Organizations will sue to prevent mine waste dumping in Førdefjorden
Friends of the Earth Norway (FoEN) and Young Friends of the Earth Norway (YFoEN) will sue the Norwegian government over the permits to allow the dumping of mine waste into the Førdefjord, on the country’s western coast. The government recently approved the final permit for Nordic Mining’s open-pit rutile and garnet mine, which would allow the company to dispose of up to 250 million tonnes of tailings waste into the designated National Salmon Fjord.
“We stand with the local population, research institutions, and future generations in this matter. We are ready to give everything in the fight for clean fjords. We are now taking this case to court to stop this catastrophic project,” says Gina Gylver, leader of Young Friends of the Earth Norway.
FoEN decided on June 11th that the organization would sue the state provided YFoEN also joined the lawsuit. YFoEN’s National Board voted yes at the organization’s summer meeting yesterday. The two organizations will now start work on a summons.
FoEN and YFoEN believe that the Ministry of Climate and Environment's approval of the permit to dump up to 250 million tonnes of mine waste in the Førdefjord is a clear violation of Norway’s Pollution Control Act and the EU Mineral Waste Directive. According to the legislation the waste management plan must “prevent or reduce waste production and its harmfulness.” When the discharge permit was granted in 2015, minimizing harmful waste was not part of the application.
“Nordic Mining has been granted permission to dump the mine waste directly into the fjord without a requirement to study how the waste could be prevented or reduced as much as possible, and thus achieve other, more environmentally friendly solutions. In this case, consideration for the rich and clean fjord has come last. We therefore take the case to court to ensure legal protection for the Førdefjord,” says Truls Gulowsen, leader of Friends of the Earth Norway.
An EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) investigation into plans for mine waste dumping in Førdefjorden and Repparfjorden determined that the submarine tailings disposals are in breach of the EU Mineral Waste Directive. The ESA informed the Ministry of Climate and the Environment of its findings on October 8, 2021. The ESA took up the case following a complaint filed by FoEN and YFoEN.
The mining company Nordic Mining received a mine waste discharge permit in 2015 and an operating license in 2020. Both permits were appealed to the Ministries. The Ministry of Climate and Environment denied the administrative appeal for the discharge permit in 2016. In May 2022, almost two years after the operating license was granted, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries denied the administrative appeal for the license.
“The mining company has received all permits, and there are no more options for administrative appeals. Therefore, we take the case to court. We cannot sit and watch such an outdated and polluting project go forward. We believe that we can win,” says Gylver.
Dumping of mining waste in the Førdefjord will have serious negative consequences for the Førdefjord, according to the state's own marine expert advisers at the Institute of Marine Research and the Directorate of Fisheries. Førdefjorden is a species-rich and intact fjord with great natural value, which has provided a basis for settlement and nature-based industries for several thousand years. The fjord is a national salmon fjord that is connected to four salmon-carrying rivers. It has a rich benthic fauna and is home to endangered and vulnerable species.
“Norway is now alone with Papua New Guinea in permitting new mine waste dumping in the sea. Here we are on the completely wrong course, especially since we are in the middle of a natural crisis where we are losing species at a record pace. It is high time to end this practice in Norway as well,” says Gulowsen.
Key reasons Friends of the Earth Norway and Young Friends of the Earth Norway are suing the state:
- The mining company has received all important permits, there are no more administrative appeal options.
- The mining company has not sufficiently investigated how the project can be designed in a way that provides maximum waste minimization and avoids the need for submarine tailings disposal.
- ESA has identified shortcomings in the implementation of the Mineral Waste Directive.
- There are many indications that submarine tailings disposal is unnecessary and therefore illegal.
- Good legal protection for nature depends on the courts hearing cases on administrative decisions that have an impact on the environment.
Artikkelen ble sist oppdatert: 20.07.2022