The mineral industry should be a national issue and it should be possible to introduce a North Sea model for financing mining activity.
That is the argument of CEO Frode Nilsen of LNS, the largest North Norwegian entrepreneur and mining company. He is supported by Bodø’s Labour mayor Ida Pinnerød.
The CEO introduced the financing of oil and gas development in the North Sea as a model for future mining in Norway during the one-day conference Mineraldagen [the Mineral Day] in Bodø, Norway yesterday.
Agree on the Green Shift
While there is an overall consensus, even in politics, that mineral extraction is crucial for the Greeen Shift, there is not much consensus around the financing of mining activities.
Frode Nilsen has repeatedly criticized both private and state financing institutions for failing the mineral industry and the result, according to Nilsen, is that actors in the industry have to turn to financing companies with a too limited time perspective.
- It should be possible to introduce a model resembling the one Norway used for the North Sea developments, Nilsen said in his talk.
- The key idea is for the state to join in and fund (parts of) the developing of the industry, for companies to later pay back in the form of relatively high taxes and fees, once the fields are operative.
Not necessarily carbon copy, but contribution
Even if once chooses not to introduce a carbon copy [of the North Sea model] and if the state’s contribution were not to be quite as significant, it would nevertheless be a solid contribution to developing an industry most needed, Nilsen argues.
Mayor Ida Pinnerød (Labour) of Bodø agrees with Frode Nilsen:
- I can absolutely envision the state taking on such a task, a task for an industry most needed, and one that constitutes a national resource. It is all about using our political toolbox, and we have plenty of tools to choose from.
If we do it as indicated here, we will secure the overall development and future management of one of our most important resources.
National, not local, resources
It is important that we do just that, because that is how we contribute to growth, business development and the development of knowledge, Pinnerød says.
Frode Nilsen emphasizes to HNN that we should stop considering minerals a local resource.
- These are national resources, just like gas fields and oil fields – the perception of key politicians has simply to change, Nilsen argues, though he does not ask for overruling local democracy.
- It is about the state running the show without overriding local interest in order to secure the overall national management.
- Securing an overall control and management is vital, while it is important to me that we also receive and listen to input from different industries. However, without keeping an eye on the overall image we will lose the opportunities for our community at large, and this overall perspective was what we managed to achieve in the North Sea.
Labour will champion overall perspectives
- Can you envision this becoming Labour policy?
- In the Labour Party, we have a clear policy when it comes to industry and the mineral sector, and Nordland County Labour Party initiated the North Norwegian mineral strategy.
We will champion an overall perspective on management of the industry, however, we also need more knowledge, attention and competence when it comes to the opportunities represented here, Ida Pinnerød says in closing.
This article orginally appeared in Norwegian and has been translated by HNN's Elisabeth Bergquist.