Tag Archives: Norway

Norway to allow new mine waste dumping in national salmon fjord

2,500 Norwegians have signed up for civil disobedience against the mine waste dumping


Aled Dilwyn Fisher | Naturvernforbundet | 14 February 2019

• 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.


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Cooks govt looking at seabed mining interest in Norway

Cook Islands Finance Minister Mark Brown Photo: Phillipa Webb / Cook Islands News

Radio New Zealand | 14 September 2018

The Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown is currently in Norway discussing the possible exploration of seabed minerals in the Cook Islands waters.

The Cook Islands News reports that manganese nodules found in the Cook Islands, lie on the seabed, at depths of more than 5000 metres.

According to initial scientific studies, the nodules were of a very high quality and there is a large quantity on the seabed which could make the nation billions of dollars.

Mr Brown said they would re-advertise the tenders as there had been some new interest in exploring the seabed.

He added that all practices, including exploration and the extraction of the minerals, would have to be done in a manner which was environmentally friendly and did not impact negatively on the Cook Islands.

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Norway to Map Deep Sea Mineral Deposits

Maritime Executive | 12 August 2018

The Norwegian Petroleum Directorate is readying to map potential deep sea mineral deposits in the Norwegian Sea, with an expedition due to get underway this month.

The Directorate has engaged Swire Seabed, which partners with Ocean Floor Geophysics, to carry out mapping of potential sulfide minerals on the seabed over the Mohns Ridge in the western Norwegian Sea. This is a spreading ridge in the Atlantic Ocean that separates two oceanic plates, where potential valuable minerals have been formed through hot volcanic sources. The focus of the expedition is not the active hydraulic systems such as “black smokers,” but rather non-active extinct systems that are now left as mineral-rich piles of gravel on the seabed.

The mapping will be carried out using an autonomous underwater vehicle, a Kongsberg Hugin AUV, which will map the seabed using a bottom-penetrating echo sounder, multibeam bathymetry, synthetic aperture sonar data, magnetometry and spontaneous potential field data.

After the data is processed on board, mineral samples will be taken from the seabed where the data indicates the presence of deposits. Sampling will be carried out using an underwater remotely operated vehicle with a depth capability of 3,000 meters (9,800 feet).

Earlier studies by the Norwegian Research Council have indicated that the region could contain resources worth as much as $110 billion. Around 6.4 million tons of copper metal in addition to zinc (6.5 million tons), gold (170 tons) and silver (9,901 tons) have been estimated to be present in the region. 

Rising demand for minerals and metals, including for use in new technology, has sparked renewed interest in seabed mining. Since 2001, the International Seabed Authority has issued licenses to approximately 30 government and private organizations to explore 500,000 square miles of the deep sea outside national jurisdiction for minerals. 

This increasing interest in seafloor mining globally has drawn some criticism. Despite the term “mining,” much of the activity would involve extraction of minerals over very wide areas of the sea floor rather than digging down to any great depth, potentially leaving a vast footprint on the deep-sea habitats in which these mineral deposits occur. Earlier this year, a study by the University of Exeter and Greenpeace warned that mining on the ocean floor could do irreversible damage to deep sea ecosystems. The deep sea (depths below 200m) covers about half of the Earth’s surface and is home to a vast range of species. Little is known about these environments, and the researchers say mining could have “long-lasting and unforeseen consequences” not just at mining sites but also across much larger areas. 

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Norwegian Discovery Triggers Fears Underwater Arctic Mining Could Cause Damage

© Sputnik/ V. Chistyakov

© Sputnik/ V. Chistyakov

Sputnik International | 13 September 2016

Recent finds of copper and other valuable deposits on the seabed between the Norwegian archipelagos of Jan Mayen and Svalbard in the Arctic Ocean have stirred hopes for commercial underwater mining. Despite Oslo’s hopefulness, the idea has been denounced by scientists and ecologists as unfeasible and environmentally destructive.

A recent expedition in Arctic waters launched by a mixed crew of Norwegian and foreign researchers confirmed previous research, conducted by, among others, the University of Bergen, that geological formations along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge may be very rich in copper, zinc, silver and gold.

“We have charted a lot of copper on the seabed between Jan Mayen and Svalbard. Perhaps in 20 years commercial mining may start in this area at a depth of 2,300-3,000 meters,” Martin Ludvigsen, a professor at the Department of Marine Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and expedition leader told the Norwegian national broadcaster NRK. “We have also found lesser deposits of gold and silver, but it is copper that is most valuable,” Ludvigsen said.

Prior to the expedition on board the research vessel Polar King, which relied on underwater robots and was lauded as a major success, Martin Ludvigsen wrote an article in Norwegian economic newspaper Dagens Næringsliv, together with his colleagues at NTNU, Kurt Aasly and Steinar Løve Ellefmo.

“Through crises come changes. Norway should take this opportunity to clarify the industrial potential of mineral extraction on the seabed. The first step in a national Norwegian campaign would be to step up efforts to collect data on the quantity and quality of resources. Moreover, efforts to develop the relevant technologies must be intensified, while administrative aspects must be clarified. Simultaneously, focus should be placed on sustainability and environmental issues,” the researchers wrote in their opinion piece.

The Norwegian researchers noted an increasing global interest in seabed minerals. Japan, South Korea, China, India, Germany, Russia and France are all countries that have established large national programs to explore the potential for mineral extraction on the seabed. Norway, which possesses a long tradition and great expertise in the maritime industry, such as offshore oil and gas and marine science, should utilize their knowledge in order to avoid being left behind and miss out on great potential opportunities, the researchers pointed out.

According to Professor Martin Ludvigsen, further research must be conducted before the unearthed mineral deposits on in the North Atlantic can be exploited.

The environmental organization Greenpeace has already expressed criticism over plans for deep-sea mining.

“Naturally, we believe it is important to chart the deep waters. But then it becomes more important to look for exciting things that you do not know anything about and that need protection, than to search for minerals that may be utilized with considerable environmental damage,” Truls Gulowsen of Greenpeace Norway told NRK.

Jan Mayen is a partly glacier-covered volcanic island in the Arctic Ocean and a part of Norway, lying 600 kilometers northeast of Iceland, 500 kilometers east of central Greenland and 1,000 kilometers west of the North Cape, Norway.

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Global Conservation Body Votes to Ban Marine Mine Waste Dumping

Tailings waste from the mine flows through the Porgera Valley in Papua New Guinea’s remote Enga Province. Photo: Emily Allen

Tailings waste from the Porgera mine in Enga Province. Photo: Emily Allen

Shreema Mehta | EARTHWORKS | September 12, 2016

Mining companies move staggering amounts of earth to extract small quantities of minerals like gold and copper. Much of this waste is contaminated with heavy metals and chemicals used to extract metals from ore. Dealing with the resulting waste is a constant problem — for the industry, environment and nearby communities.

In select places around the world, notably Indonesia, Papua New Guinea — and now, Norway —  mining companies handle this problem by simply dumping their waste into rivers, lakes and oceans. In fact, mining companies are dumping more than 180 million tonnes of hazardous mine waste each year into the world’s rivers, lakes and oceans.

This week, thousands of activists, academics and policymakers from around the world are gathering in Hawaii to attend the IUCN World Conservation Congress to discuss the state of global natural resource conservation, including the issues of marine mine waste disposal.

IUCN, or the International Union of Conservation in Nature, is a global network of over 1,300 government and civil society organizations. Every four years, the IUCN passes motions during this Congress that, like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, set priorities for the global conservation community.

This year, IUCN members almost unanimously approved a resolution calling for an end to the disposal of mine waste into marine and coastal environments, as well as an end to current sites of marine mine waste disposal.

As noted by the resolution, most national governments do not allow marine tailings dumping, given both the severity of its impacts and available alternatives.

Dumping mine tailings into oceans is destructive to marine life. Tailings are the waste leftover when the desired mineral, such as gold or copper, is separated from its ore. This waste is an often toxic sludge of waste rock and processing chemicals that can contaminate water, smother aquatic plants, and poison fisheries on which coastal communities depend.

Earthworks has documented some of the egregious examples of marine mine waste disposal in a report, Troubled Waters. The toxic mine waste has led to reduced populations of fish and bottom-dwelling organisms in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, and local groups in both countries found higher concentrations of toxins such as arsenic or mercury in some surviving fish. In Norway, tailings have been found to be dumped into designated national salmon fjords, which support huge fishing and tourism industries.

But coastal communities around the world are fighting back. Norway, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia have seen communities rally against mines that are polluting the coastal waters on which they depend.

Just this past February, more than 100 local activists conducted a powerful act of peaceful civil disobedience to protect majestic fjords from toxic mine waste. The protesters blocked test drilling from Nordic Mining, which proposes to build a rutile mine that would dump waste into the Førde fjord. Norwegians of all types — from fishers to student activists — have united in opposition to companies proposing to dump tailings into fjords.

Norway was among the only countries to oppose the IUCN’s ban on marine mine waste dumping.

The world’s oceans should not be considered dumping grounds for the mining industry. Mine tailings dumping is an egregious practice that should have been phased out decades ago, but instead, the practice continues – and is being considered in new, fragile marine environments like fjords and intact coral reefs.

The almost unanimously approved IUCN resolution shows wide consensus among civil society, governmental and academic organizations that dumping tailings into oceans and rivers is environmentally destructive and unacceptable. National governments, particularly those of Norway, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, should respond to this signal of public will to by banning the dumping of tailings into oceans. Mining companies should take a stand too — by publicly committing to ban marine dumping for future operations and phasing out the practice at existing operations.

It’s time to bring the mining industry into the 21st century and end marine mine waste disposal.

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Why Is Mine Waste Being Dumped Directly Into the Ocean?

“Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Norway lead the way using DSTP at their mines”

The Los Pelambres Mine in Chile proposes to dump wastes into the ocean.

The Los Pelambres Mine in Chile proposes to dump wastes into the ocean.

Terry Odendahl, Roy Young and Gary Wockner** | Eco Watch | March 4, 2016 

Picture a 4-foot diameter pipe running into the ocean filling the offshore canyons at a rate of 160,000 tons per day. The pipe runs from an enormous gold and copper mine directly into the Indian Ocean. The pipe is filled with mine “tailings”—a toxic sludge of heavy metals, rock and coagulants mixed in with the pulverized mine wastes that spreads and covers the seabed dramatically impacting plant and animal life and polluting the surrounding water. That is the Deep Submarined Tailings Disposal (DSTP) system at Newmont Mining’s Batu Hijau copper and gold mine in Indonesia.

Although Batu Hijau is the biggest mine that is using DSTP, at least 16 mines in eight countries are also using DSTP, with others to follow. Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Norway lead the way using DSTP at their mines. In Chile, mines in the mountains north and east of Santiago are proposing to run pipes 50-100 kilometers so they can dump into the canyons of the Pacific Ocean off of the Chilean coast. The enormous Los Pelambres Copper Mine in Chile proposes to use DSTP in the future, discharging its wastes directly into the ocean.

The 4-foot diameter pipe dumping mining wastes into the ocean at Batu Hijau mine in Indonesia.

The 4-foot diameter pipe dumping mining wastes into the ocean at Batu Hijau mine in Indonesia.

While you might think this mining disposal would be limited to the unregulated developing world, Norway actually leads with the most mines using this polluting disposal system. The mining wastes are dumped into Norway’s pristine fjords, filling much of those fjords over time. One such mine has prompted a backlash by Norwegians who, working with Friends of the Earth International, have started the Save The Fjords campaign.

As stated on their website, “In April 2015, the Norwegian government gave its final permission for an open-pit mine in a mountain called Engebo. The mine will dump more than 250 million tons of chemicals and waste into the pristine Forde fjord.”

The Forde Fjord in Norway would be partially filled with mining wastes.

The Forde Fjord in Norway would be partially filled with mining wastes.

The Norwegian proposal sparked the “biggest civil disobedience actions in newer Norwegian history” where hundreds of people protested and 80 people were arrested blocking the mining action and trying to save the fjord. Through Global Greengrants Fund, a grant has been given to Friends of the Earth International to help inform Norwegians about the Engbo mine and its ocean disposal.

wegian protestors rally against filling their fjords with mining wastes.

Norwegian protestors rally against filling their fjords with mining wastes.

It could make sense in some cases to dispose of mining wastes in the ocean, but only if those wastes were non-reactive and only if the toxic heavy metals in the wastes are removed. In addition, if ocean disposal does take place, it should be closely monitored and regulated and it should only happen where local people are not dependent on the marine environment for food. Proposals to use DSTP along the coastline of Chile threaten the Humbolt Current System (HCS) which sustainably produces almost 20 percent of the annual harvest of fish biomass. The HCS is the most productive marine ecosystem on the planet. Just four mines would dump one million tons of mine waste into the HCS every day, one gigaton every three years.

Over the last 25 years, international regulatory bodies including the 1996 London Convention and Protocol by the International Maritime Organization and the 1992 Oslo Paris Convention have attempted to set minor regulations for DSTP, but those standards are mostly being ignored.

In the very few places where monitoring has occurred, studies have measured dramatic decreases in the amount of benthic meiofauma (animals less than I millimeter long) as well as all forms of benthic macrofauna (larger than 1 millimeter), which, along with phytoplankton, form the basis of the food chain in marine environments. Almost no research has occurred about the consequences of dumping 100’s of millions of tons of mine wastes at current DSTP sites. This phenomenally destructive pollution is virtually unregulated across the planet’s marine environments.

** Terry Odendahl, PhD, is president and CEO of Global Greengrants Fund. Roy Young is the former executive director of Global Greengrants Fund and founder of Nature’s Own. Gary Wockner, PhD, is an environmental activist, writer and consultant to Global Greengrants Fund.


Filed under Environmental impact, Papua New Guinea

Norway stands alongside PNG in allowing the sea dumping of toxic mine waste

norway fjord

Norway moves to destroy another fjord 

Friends of the Earth

The government of Norway has doomed another of their world famous fjords to destruction by allowing the dumping of toxic waste from a copper mine into the Repparfjord Arctic fjord, reports Naturvernforbundet/Friends of the Earth Norway.

Two million tons of the mining waste, containing large amounts of heavy metals, will annually be deposited in spawning waters of cod and other fish stocks important to coastal fisheries in the far north of Norway. Small particles spreading in the water column could also harm the threatened Atlantic salmon in what has been classified as a ‘National Salmon Fjord’.

Lars Haltbrekken, leader of Friends of the Earth Norway, said:

“It is totally unacceptable to use Norwegian fjords as a dump site for the mining industry. Emissions from the copper mine will breach the limits for heavy metals, and in this cocktail of contaminants, the nickel content is alone enough to give poor chemical status in the fjord.”

The discharge permit is contrary to national and international environmental legislation regarding water management, and Friends of the Earth Norway will appeal to the Surveillance Authority of the European Free Trade Association (the intergovernmental organisation of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), claiming that Norway is violating the European Water Framework Directive.

Friends of the Earth Norway believes the Norwegian Environment Agency has abandoned the role of professional environmental administrative body in mining matters.

Lars Haltbrekken said:

“For the Norwegian Environment Agency to give the green light for one of the most environmentally harmful industrial projects in Norwegian history, despite professional advice and warnings, is not environmental management. It is promoting a dirty industrial policy based only on uncertain assumptions about future revenues”.

Most countries have stopped the practice of dumping of mine waste into the sea, and today, Norway is the only country left that still practices sea dumping in Europe. Marine scientists, environmental organizations, fishermen and reindeer herders of the Sami people have also raised concerns about the plans.

norway waste dumping

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