Norway’s government approved a copper mine near Europe’s northernmost point, despite years of protests and opposition from indigenous Sami and environmentalists.
Indigenous Sami say the plan will add to the existing problems of oil spills, climate change and poaching impacting their lives. Environmentalists fear it will open up mining and drilling projects in other fragile Arctic ecosystems.
66 million tons of copper ore is thought to be in the ground in Kvalsund, deep into the Arctic Circle. Melting sea ice has allowed ships for the first time to enter pristine habitats and many are eyeing the newly available natural resources.
Environmental groups fear a plan to dump mining waste into Repparfjord coastline threatens the habitat. Activists say more than 2.2 million tons of heavy metal waste will be dumped every year.
Mine waste dumping previously, at a lower levels, led to a large drop in the salmon populations that took more than a decade to recover. Cod populations have still not returned to their former habitat.
Thousands of people have signed up to take direct action against the project. Opponents are considering taking legal action against the mine.
Photo: “Photo of photo man #kvalsund #finnmark #visitnorway” by Bjørn Heidenstrøm is licensed under CC BY 2.0