Norway to allow new mine waste dumping in national salmon fjord
• Norway one of five countries still dumping mine waste in the oceans. • Strong opposition from indigenous communities. • Civil disobedience planned.
The Norwegian government has granted a permit for a new copper mine at Repparfjord, Finnmark, that will dump its waste into a protected national salmon fjord.
“This is one of the most environmentally damaging industrial projects in Norwegian history,” commented Silje Ask Lundberg, leader of Friends of the Earth Norway.
Two million tonnes of heavy metal waste will be dumped every year by the company Nussir – the equivalent of 17 lorry loads every hour – into a fjord given special protection to conserve the salmon population. Populations of cod, pollock, Atlantic herring, haddock, halibut, and flatfish will also be affected.
“Dumping of mining waste will kill every living thing on the ocean floor in the immediate area and disturb spawning grounds over a much greater distance. Scientists have repeatedly warned against dumping. This decision shows conclusively that the government does not take the fight to conserve ocean life seriously, and would rather prioritise short-term profit over conservation and sustainability,” added Ask Lundberg.
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.
2,500 Norwegians have signed up for civil disobedience against the project should it go ahead, including members of Nature and Youth (Young Friends of the Earth Norway). The Sami Parliament, representing the indigenous Sami people, has also opposed the plans. The Norwegian government itself has agreed a four-year moratorium on new projects planning to dump mine waste in other fjords. Norway is one of only five countries in the world that still allows mine waste dumping in its seas.