Nussir Still Needs Important Permission

Independent third-party estimates for the two copper deposits estimate that given the current surveys, some 80 million tons of copper ore is to be found in the areas around the Reppar Fjord. (Photo: Nussir)

The Norwegian Directorate of Environment has not yet given Nussir, a mining company, permission to use the flotation chemical SIPX, which is used in the extraction of copper ore. The company expects a positive reply this autumn, whereas Friends of the Earth Norway argues that any permission for emissions of this material would be irresponsible.

Nussir’s copper mine is located in the Reppar Fjord in Hammerfest municipality in Norway, near the North Cape. The mining company has worked for more than 15 years to establish a copper mine.

The 2015 emission permit to Nussir from the Norwegian Directorate of Environment (NDE) says that both the degradation of SIPX and its potential release from deposits are uncertain. The NDE thus specified that Nussir will need to apply for permission to use the chemical as the NDE wanted to acquire more knowledge about the effect of SIPX on the environment before potentially giving out new permits.

Nussir CEO Øystein Rushfeldt says to High North News that they expect a positive reply from the NDE.

Øystein Rushfeldt har jobbet i 15 år med å realisere gruveprosjektet i Repparfjorden i Finnmark Foto: Nussir
Øystein Rushfeldt has worked for 15 years to realize the mining project in the Reppar Fjord. Photo: Nussir

You have not yet received permission to emit SIPX. If you do not get one, will the project come to a halt?

“Of course we respect the fact that the NDE wants to increase its knowledge before handing out new permits. Xanthates are used in all flotation of metal sulfides. It is used in every copper mine all over the world. This is a standard that has been for a long time, and we expect a positive answer.

“It is important to stress that 99 percent of the xanthates follow the product. The chemical is fixed to the copper ore we are selling. Only one percent of it will go into the deposits. The dose released into nature is so small that it cannot be measured.

“Levels referred to as toxic are somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 times more than the estimated emissions from us.”

Levels referred to as toxic are somewhere between 10,000 and 100,000 times more than the estimated emissions from us  
Øystein Rushfeldt, CEO of Nussir

Are there any alternatives to this material?

“Xanthates rule the ground. Such limited emission of xanthates are not considered by the Norwegian Institute for Marine Research to be problematic for marine environments.”

When do you expect a final reply from the NDE?

“We have read in the media that an answer can be expected some time this autumn. There will still be two to three years before we start using this material, so that does not represent a problem for us.”

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Leader of Friends of the Earth Norway Silje Ask Lundberg argues that Nussir should not be permitted to use SIPX.

“We expect the NDE to say no to Nussir’s using SIPX. Permitting emissions of such a toxic material into the Reppar Fjord would be completely irresponsible”, Lundberg says in a press release.

Leder i Naturvernforbundet, Silje Ask Lundberg mener det er uforsvarlig å tillate utslipp av SIPX. Foto: Naturvernforbundet
Silje Ask Lundberg, leader of Friend of the Earth Norway, argues that permitting emissions of SIPX would be completely irresponsible. Photo: FoE Norway

“There are few alternative chemicals when it comes to flotation of copper ore. Xanthates are widely used in industrial mines, however 12 out of the world’s 2,500 mines deposit mining tailings into the sea. This paints a rather grimy image of the Nussir project. The project should never have been permitted”, Ask Lundberg says.

Permitting emission of such a toxic material in the Reppar Fjord would be completely irresponsible  
Silje Ask Lundberg, leader of Friend of the Earth Norway

Early August, the Norwegian Directorate of Environment wrote in an email to Friends of the Earth Norway that:

“(…)as the permit says, Nussir must apply to use SIPX should the company want to use this chemical. It does not hold such permit today. When an application is submitted, the NDE will assess whether the documentation submitted is sufficient and whether or not to send it out on a hearing.”


This article was originally published in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.