“Nøkken” (The Nix) lures people into the water to drown. Prime Minister Erna Solberg steers Norway’s environmental reputation into a dive. In Europe, only Cyprus has more negative development. Photo Marie Sjøvold, VG
Norway allows copper waste in National Salmon Fjord, connected to the Barents Sea
Prime Minister Erna Solberg and the Norwegian government once again shows its true face where money always fronts environment and biodiversity. At a meeting in Hawaii organized by the World Wildlife Union in 2016, 53 countries voted that mine tailings from mining should not be dumped in the sea. Only Norway and Turkey voted to allow the dumping of mining waste in the sea.
The mining company Nussir will be allowed to start up with copper recovery in Kvalsund Municipality. Mining Lamb will be dumped directly into the national salmon fjord Repparfjorden during mining.
Activists said two million tonnes of heavy metal waste will be dumped every year in the next 20 years – the equivalent of 17 lorry loads every hour – into a fjord given special protection to conserve salmon.
Mining sludge contains heavy metals such as copper, nickel, and chromium which are considered highly toxic to life in the fjord. Mining Lamb will directly kill all life in bottom fauna in the area, but the fine-grained masses containing heavy metals could also spread to the rest of the fjord, and slowly but surely killing most of his life in the bay. The fjord is in addition to being a protected national salmon also spawn area for cod.
Environmentalists fear it will lead to mining and drilling projects in other fragile ecosystems in the Arctic, which has become the latest frontier in the quest for rapidly depleting mineral and fossil fuel reserves. Melting sea ice has allowed heavily polluting ships to enter pristine habitats and nations are eyeing up its precious natural resources.
I am shocked by the government’s decision. I had hoped that the Norwegian government would have heard our arguments.
Nils Mathis Sara, reindeer herder
This is one of the most environmentally damaging industrial projects in Norwegian history,” Silje Ask Lundberg, leader of Friends of the Earth Norway.
We are very critical to sea deposits because the ocean, fisheries and sea food industry is so important for all of us living up north,» President of the Sami Parliament, Aili Keskitalo
Earlier mine waste dumping in the same fjord, at a lower level than planned in the project approved today, led to a large drop in the salmon populations that took 13 years to recover. Cod populations have still not returned to their former spawning grounds
Critics are considering whether to take legal action, potentially delaying the project, which had been waiting on a government licence since it was given the green light by local officials in 2012.
More than 2,500 people have signed up for civil disobedience against the project.
The Russians are skeptical
«I know the position of the Norwegian side about the “safety” of such “recycling” of waste. Nevertheless, it is significant that during the last meeting of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Norway, along with Turkey, were the only 53 participants who voted against the international ban on dumping mining waste at sea. Of course, we are worried about the situation,» Dmitry Kobylkin said after the last meeting with Ola Elvestuen, a press release by the ministry reads.
The Guardian ran an article in 2014 about another fjord on the west coast of Norway and how Nordic Mining planes to dump 6m tonnes of waste a year in the scenery seen on the picture. One could wonder for how long Norway’s image as on of the world’s cleanest, greenest and most unspoiled countries could survive such policies.
Fact is Norway is world leading in deposing mine waste to sea
Here is an overview of which countries have mines with sea deposits per. 2014 and how deeply the water extraction is discharged on: Indonesia (1 mine – 4000 meters depth), Turkey (1 mine – 3000 m), Papua New Guinea (3 mines – 800-1500 m), Chile (1 mine – 200-800 m), Norway (6 mines – 35-80 m). Worth noting only Norway apporves of this method for depth less than 200 meters (!)
Repparfjorden is not the only fjord in the land of the fjords threatened by mining waste under this government. Which Fjord is next? this poster reads.