The Norwegian Copper company Nussir is given permit to discharge the tailings from the ore processing into a pre-fixed location at sea where it will fall to the bottom.
“It is very strange for us to hear that a mining company in Norway will throw the waste to the sea,” says Elena Kruglikova with Kola Environmental Centre. She lives in Apatity, a city on Russia’s Kola Peninsula famous for its research- and science expertise in mining.
“We have a lot of mining activities in our country, but don’t throw the waste to the sea. Such tailings are stored onshore. Maybe one day someone will find values in the waste,” argues Elena Kruglikova.
Her group now calls for the Norwegian mining industry, like the Nussir company now to start mining in Finnmark, to take a study tour to the Kola Peninsula and learn how the Russian mining industry handle tailings.
Meeting with Naturvernforbundet, Friends of the Earth Norway, the Russian environmentalists now plan to join the ongoing protest movement aimed at getting a ban on dumping of mining waste to sea.
“In late June, we will arrange a protest camp in Repparfjord,” says Kjersti Album with Naturvernforbundet.
Nussir itself says it will use a technology which introduces sea water in the tailings before it is pumped out to the exact location of the tailings. The mixing in of sea water makes the tailings fall to the bottom instead of rising up and mixing with the sea, and by that limit the spread of fine particles and also the spread of the deposit itself.
In addition to Nussir’s mine in Repparfjord in the western part of Finnmark, the iron-ore company Sydvaranger in Kirkenes further east on the Barents Sea coast already dumps large amounts of tailing to the Bøkfjord, not far from Norway’s border to Russia.
Both Bøkfjord and Repparfjord are on the list of national salmon fjords in Norway, waters that the Ministry of Environment says should have special protection due to their importance for the wild salmon.
The eco-group Naturvernforbundet are protesting all dumping of mining waste to sea, arguing that there are only three other nations in the world that allows such sea dumping of tailings; Turkey, Indonesia and Papua New Guinnea.