Mine waste stains Norway’s industry revival

Norway has been singled out by a United Nations organization over its practice of dumping thousands of tonnes of mining waste into its fjords, where ocean salt water mixes with fresh mountain water.

The country’s permit-granting Climate and Pollution Agency authority said Norway’s geography is to blame, as high-mountain mining discards toxic waste into the fjords below. Only three other countries — Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Turkey — allow dumping at sea, says the UN’s International Maritime Organization.

While major industry players have stopped the practice, mining is again taking hold in Norway, with smaller operators hoping dumping costs can be kept low.  A state mining giant is also looking to launch, and has its sights set on coal-mining archipelago Svalbard and vast areas in the north of Norway.

In addition, the country’s wealth-maker — the oil industry — has been allowed to abandon the tailings made by boreholes through the seabed.

The oil industry’s drill deposits, however, are just a tiny fraction of what biologists say coastal mining drops into the fjords.

A 100-million-kroner state survey of northern Norwegian mountains is currently underway, and the government promises a new minerals policy by spring 2012.

“It’s a revival of the mining industry and they wish to re-open, double and triple production,” marine biologist Jan Helge Fossaa of the Institute of Marine Research told Dagens Næringsliv.

He said the new operations will likely lead to “one of the worst environmental cases” in coastal Norway in the years to come.

It is expected that a largely state-owned mining giant will emerge soon to do for mining what state energy champion Statoil has done for oil and gas.

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Norway’s PM pledges to spend 100 million kroner on clearing plastic from oceans

Norway and the World Band will work together to set up a fund to help fight plastic pollution of the world’s oceans.

Norway’s PM pledges to spend 100 million kroner on clearing plastic from oceans
Prime Minister Erna Solberg in Quebec. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

The fund was announced by Prime Minister Erna Solberg in Quebec City on Saturday, newspaper VG reports.

The Norwegian PM was in the capital during the weekend’s G7 talks in the city.

“We are willing to contribute 100 million kroner [10 million euros, ed.] every year,” VG reports the PM as saying to Norwegian media in Quebec on Saturday.

Solberg said that she hoped other countries would join Norway in financially supporting the effort to remove plastic from oceans.

“Popular support for this is huge now. Plastic in the ocean has become symbolic. It’s not just in Norway that we’ve seen whales washed up with their stomach full of plastic,” she said.

The Norwegian PM added that it will take time for other countries to commit themselves to the initiative.

“We spent three years talking about girls and education and not until now is it happening [that other countries have pledged to work towards it],” she said.

Solberg was invited to the G7 meeting to speak about the issue and was the only Nordic head of government to attend the summit.

Norway plans to host a research conference in the coastal city of Bergen later this year which Solberg hopes leading researchers from G7 countries will attend, VG reports.

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