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Norway gives go-ahead to disputed Arctic copper mine

Mining News - Published on Fri, 15 Feb 2019

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Reuters reported that Norway’s government approved building of a copper mine near Europe’s northernmost point despite years of opposition from indigenous Sami herders and fishermen. Norway’s decision on the copper mine has been viewed as a litmus test for the Arctic, where climate change and technology are enabling mineral and energy extraction, shipping and tourism, but threatening traditional ways of life. Industry Minister Torbjoern Roe Isaksen of the centre-right coalition government said “The mining project will strengthen the industrial base in the north. It will contribute positively to the local community, with new jobs and skills.”

The Nussir ASA project is expected to bring jobs and investment to the Kvalsund municipality, but the digging could damage summer reindeer pastures and a plan to dump tailings in the fjord would destroy spawning grounds for the coastal cod.

Reindeer herder Nils Mathis Sara told Reuters “I am shocked by the government’s decision. I had hoped that the Norwegian government would have heard our arguments ... They do not take us seriously. We will definitely protest against this decision.”

A group of reindeer herders will discuss whether to take legal action in an attempt to stop the mine, he said.

Nussir says the area contains an estimated 72 million tonnes of copper ore - Norway’s largest reserve - and plans to invest more than 1 billion crowns ($115.8 million) in the mine while making only minimal intrusion in the local way of life.

Local officials gave a green light in 2012, but the project has since been stuck awaiting an operating license, with big industry players paying close attention to the process, the International Centre for Reindeer Husbandry has said.

Kvalsund, a village of painted wooden houses on the Repparfjord with 1,027 inhabitants, said the mine would boost a municipality which spends 40 percent of its income caring for the elderly as young people move away.

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Fri, 15 Feb 2019
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