Nature and Youth to continue battle against Engebø project “as long as the permit allows ocean dumping”

Natur og Ungdom protest - Nordic MiningPhoto: Amanda Iversen Orlich / Natur og Ungdom / NTB
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Last Friday, Norway’s Ministry of Trade and Industry decided to award an operating license to Nordic Rutile for a mining project by the Førdefjord. 

At the time, Minister of Trade and Industry Jan Christian Vestre (AP) said that the environmental requirements in the operating license had been tightened. 

“The Ministry has thoroughly reviewed the case and concluded that the company must be granted an operating license in accordance with the current Minerals Act. However, the complaints have not been in vain: I have listened to the environmental movement and tightened the environmental requirements in the operating license significantly. It has been important for me to go as far as my room for maneuver allows,” Vestre stated.

For years, the project has been controversial. Environmental organizations have fought against the Engebø project loudly and relentlessly, claiming that the mine would dump tonnes of mine waste directly into the fish-rich Førdefjord.

Norway Today reached out to Nature and Youth (Natur og Ungdom), one of the most prominent critics of the project, and asked the organization to comment on the most recent developments in the case. We spoke to Simon Balsnes, Deputy Director of Nature and Youth. 

NT: How do you comment on the decision published by Minister of Trade and Industry Jan Christian Vestre last Friday in the Nordic Mining case?

SB: I think it’s really weak. (It’s) cowardly that he doesn’t use the opportunity to put an end to this disastrous project. (It’s) a betrayal of the environment and the local community.

NT: Minister Vestre claims that the environmental requirements in the operating license have been “significantly tightened.” Are you satisfied with this tightening?

SB: (The environmental requirements) have been somewhat tightened – but not enough, far from enough… For example, the talk of electric excavators… The fish don’t care whether the excavators are electric. It’s all very vague, with no hard limits. As long as the permit allows for ocean dumping, it is not enough. 

NT: What environmental risks do you see in relation to the project?

SB: The biggest risk if the project moves ahead would be the destruction of the healthy ecosystem in the fjord. But the battle is far from over; the project still lacks financing. The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) is still considering whether or not Norway is in breach of the Water and Mining Waste Directive.

NT: Does your organization plan to continue opposing the mining operations in the area?

SB: We will oppose it as long as there are ocean dumping plans – through civil disobedience action. The Ministry puts a big focus on the need for a sustainable mining industry within the green transition. But the rutile that will be excavated will be used in white paint; it is not the most crucial thing to have within the green transition. To destroy a healthy fjord for that makes no sense. 

Norway Today has reached out to Nordic Mining to get their comments on the case. We will publish them as soon as we get them.

Robin-Ivan Capar is a contributor and editor at Norway Today.

Source: #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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