Norway gives go-ahead to disputed Arctic copper mine

Local reindeer herders are considering legal action to halt the mine.

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Norway’s government last week approved construction 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 by some 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.

In a statement, Industry Minister Torbjoern Roe Isaksen of the center-right coalition government, said the project would strengthen the industrial base in the north and 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.

A group of reindeer herders will discuss whether to take legal action in an attempt to stop the mine, reindeer herder Nils Mathis Sara told Reuters.