Arctic mine signs giant copper contract with a green touch in Norway

On the shores of Repparfjord last winter: Nussir CEO Øystein Rushfeldt (right) with minister of Trade and Industry Torbjørn Røe Isaksen and Kvalsund Mayor Terje Wikstrøm (left). (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)
Nussir aims at becoming the world’s first fully electrified underground mine, with zero emission of CO2.

Preparing for production could start later this year and the first shipments of concentrate by 2022 as the mining company this week announced the deal with the German smelter.

“It emphasizes the importance of moving towards the green economy, with a clean production cycle and encourages recycling of copper,” Nussir writes in a press release explaining why Aurubis won the fierce competition.

The copper mine is located in Repparfjord, not far from North Cape and will be the northernmost mine on mainland Europe.

“We are very pleased with our planned association with Aurubis and the terms fully recognize the high quality of the concentrate to be produced by Nussir. This is a positive step forward towards the financing of the development of the mine and in creating a new significant European copper producer. As part of the agreement Aurubis appreciates and valued Nussir’s plan for fully electrified production without any CO2 emission.” Øystein Rushfeldt, CEO of Nussir

The ten years sales contract is the largest copper contract in Norwegian history.

Global demand for copper, a key metal in production of batteries, is booming as the on-going transport revolution increases the sale of electric vehicles.

While both Nussir and the Aurubis highlight the green touch of the mining and smelting process, environmentalists in Norway are not at all happy. They argue dumping of tailings to the fjord will harm the marine life and local fish stocks.

“It will have catastrophic consequences for life in the fjord and the reindeer herding in the area,” Nature and Youth writes in a Facebook update. The organization has collected 4500 names who are said to be willing to engage in civil disobedience to protest the dumping of waste.

Sámi reindeer herders, local fishermen and environmental groups are against the mining plans. Here from a demonstration in the village of Kvalsund last winter. (Thomas Nilsen/The Independent Barents Observer)

The Sámi people in the area are also protesting.

“The mining will have too big consequences for Sámi culture and way of life, both for fisheries and reindeer herding. We can’t allow this to happen,” Beaska Niilas with the Norwegian Saami Association has previously told the Barents Observer.

He warned about the Repaprfjord mine could just be the beginning.

“This is a test pilot project to see if it is possible to destroy indigenous land in the north of Norway. If they manage to open this, then it will be open for grab by anyone,” Niilas said.

The mining is estimated to create some 150 to 200 jobs.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Fortune Minerals switches focus to gold, gets $144K from Canada’s Northwest government, CBC News

Finland: Miners hunting for metals to battery cars threaten Finland’s Sámi reindeer herders’ homeland, The Independent Barents Observer

Norway: The Arctic railway – Building a future or destroying a culture?, Eye on the Arctic

Russia: Russian Indigenous groups call on Elon Musk to boycott company behind Arctic environmental disasters, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Sami in Sweden start work on structure of Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Eye on the Arctic

Thomas Nilsen, The Independent Barents Observer

For more news from the Barents region visit The Independent Barents Observer.

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