Ministry of Climate and Environment permits seafill in North Norwegian fjord

Doktorgradstipendiat Yulia Mun har undersøkt følgene av tidligere deponering av avgangsmasser fra gruvedrift ved Repparfjorden og på Røros. Foreløpige resultater av forskningen viser at sjødeponi er mindre skadelig enn landdeponering. (Illustrasjon: Nussir).
The Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment upholds the decision from the Norwegian Environment Agency (NEA) to permit dumping of tailings in Repparfjorden, a fjord not far from the North Cape.

The Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment upholds the decision from the Norwegian Environment Agency (NEA) to permit dumping of tailings in Repparfjorden, a fjord not far from the North Cape.

The NEA decision of December 2015 was appealed by several actors, and now the Ministry of Climate and Environment has decided that the appeals will not be successful.

- The environmental consequences of mining have been thoroughly researched. Strict requirements have to be met, and it is environmentally justifiable to award such permit, says Climate and Environment Minister Vidar Helgesen.


- Irresponsible and lack of knowledge

The Sami Parliament, Friends of the Earth, Young Friends of the Earth Norway, and Norwegian Salmon Rivers appealed the Norwegian Environment Agency’s decision to award a permit in keeping with the Law on Pollution. The organisations claim that there is insufficient knowledge about the environmental consequences, and that a permit therefore must be denied.
The Sami Parliament has also argued that it would be irresponsible to allow mining based on the environmental consequences the dumping of mine tailings in Repparfjorden would have for Sami culture, reindeer herding, indigenous sea fishing, exploitation and community life.

The Department regards the claims as insufficient for revoking the permit that has previously been granted, and thus upholds the NEA decision.

Young Friends of the Earth have their chains ready

The environment protection organisations are furious about the decision. Young Friends of the Earth calls the decision an environmental scandal, and have their chains ready, they say.

- It is a disgrace that Norway allows mining companies to dump their waste in the fjords, and it is an unacceptable practise from the industry. We will do what we can to stop this project, and we will chain ourself on-site if we have to, says Ingrid Skjoldvær, leader of Young Friends of the Earth Norway.

Positive ripple effects

Minister of Local Government and Modernisation, Jan Tore Sanner, says the governments wants to facilitate growth in the mining industry.

- The planned mining activities in Nussir and Ulveryggen are among the largest mineral projects in Norway and will provide new jobs and positive ripple effects in the local municipality and the wider region, says the minister.

Sanner’s own department approved the regulation plan for the area in March 2014. Nussir ASA, the company operating the mining activity, is expected to create approximately 150 jobs when the business is operative.


Optimistic about prospectives

- This is the single most important milestone politically and risk-wise for us, says a happy Øystein Rushfeldt, Managing Director of Nussir ASA, the mining company. The application for permit to deposit tailings from the mining process in Repparfjorden was submitted in October 2011. Now, after five years, it has reached a final decision and can no longer be appealed.

Nussir will have to raise nearly 100 million NOK for the final preparations before operations start, and the construction itself will cost nearly one billion NOK.

- We have to succeed in raising the money required if we are to pull this off, but that is our job, it does not depend on anyone else, he says.


Copper prizes increasing

- This is a nice time to go out and raise money, says Rushfeldt. Copper prices have soared the past month, and it could make it easier for Nussir to attract investors.

The next step in the process will be submitting an application for an operating licence, which is to be submitted to the Directorate of Mining. This directorate will have to consult the Sami Parliament, however, Rushfeldt hopes that today’s signal from the governmetn will contribute to calming the level of conflict.