Reppardfjord/Nussir copper mining case, Norway

The company Nussir ASA plans a large copper mine in the inner part of the Reppardfjord, a rich fishing fjord hosting Norwegian and Sámi fishers. The project also disrupts the livelihoods of the reindeer herding Sámi community.


The company Nussir ASA seeks to extract 50 000 tonnes of Copper ore annually through sub-surface mining at two deposits located at Nussir and Ulveryggen in the inner part of the Reppardjford. Together providing the largest known copper deposits in Norway at 74 million tonnes of copper ore. Prior mining has taken place at Ulveryggen which the company seeks to reopen, as well as opening a new shaft at Nussir.  Both shafts, as well as all current and new buildings, roads, equipment and activities will take place on Sámi reindeer herding land. The terrestrial area is grazing and calving land for district 22 Fiettar and the Ulveryggen shaft blocks the migration path between summer and winter pastures for district 20 Fálá. 

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Basic Data
NameReppardfjord/Nussir copper mining case, Norway
SiteKvalsund municipality
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Mineral ore exploration
Tailings from mines
Wetlands and coastal zone management
Specific CommoditiesCopper
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsDeposits: 74 million tonnes of copper ore

Extraction: 50 000 tonnes of copper concentrate/yr

Sea-tailings: Up to 2 million tonnes of waste.

Norway is one of the few countries in the world which allow dumping of mining wastes to sea. The Nussir field was discovered in the late 1970s and is the biggest copper deposit ever found in Norway. The field is located in Kvalsund, a municipality on the Barents Sea coast. The project is 100 percent owned by company Nussir ASA. (1) The tailings from the mine will be deposited in the fjord, a total of 30 million tonnes of toxic mining tailings over a period of 20 years. (3).

Nussir’s plans are like a new Alta controversy.(2). (This refers to massive protests in the late 1970s and early 1980s concerning the construction of a hydroelectric power plant in the Alta river in Finnmark, Northern Norway.)

As reported by Mines and Communities in 2015, Norway gave permission to a domestic company to dispose of its mine wastes into a major pristine northern fjord. (4). And this, by a government known throughout the world for its "ethical" investment stance that has seen its national Pension Fund disinvest from a number of mining outfits for similar unacceptable practices over the last decade. The villain in this particular piece is Nussir ASA, which dubs the intended practice as "sea tailings placement". Others will know it as "submarine tailings disposal" or, quite simply "dumping". It's now widely condemned across the world. (4).
Level of Investment (in USD)150,000,000
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population1,000 - 4 000 people
Start Date2014
Company Names or State EnterprisesNussir ASA from Norway - Extractor
Relevant government actorsNorwegian Government

Norwegian Environmantal Agency

Sámi Parliament
International and Financial InstitutionsCredit Suisse (CS) from Switzerland
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersFriends of the Earth/Naturvernforbundet (

Nature and Youth (

Bivdi (Sea-Sámi fishing organisation)
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Objections to the EIA
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Shareholder/financial activism.
Street protest/marches
Arguments for the rights of mother nature
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Genetic contamination, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Accidents, Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
OtherImpact on Sámi reindeer pasture land and also on salmon fisheries
Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseUnder negotiation
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The process has provided the negatively impacted stakeholders with no real power to influence the process. The government and the company do not listen to the right-bearers in the community, neither do they take the IA on reindeer pastorlism seriously.

The expected negative impacts will be shifted upon the current users of the natural resources, especially the Sámi reindeer pastoralists and fisherfolk.
Sources and Materials

Rør, Anders. V. (2018). Mining or traditional use? Conflicts in the Northern Norwegian copper frontier. Master thesis (60 ECTS) at Norwegian University of Life Sciences, NMBU.
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(1) Government gives thumbs up for mining company, will be allowed to dump wastes in Arctic fjord. Amid big protests from environmentalists and the Sami Parliament. By Atle Staalesen.

December 20, 2016
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(4) Can Norway's Sami score another success against mining? Published by MAC on 2015-12-10
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(2) High North News. 22 Dec. 2016. The new Sami Parliament Council is opposed to the mining project in Repparfjorden ... Nussir’s plans are the new Alta controversy. (This refers to massive protests in the late 1970s and early 1980s concerning the construction of a hydroelectric power plant in the Alta river in Finnmark, Northern Norway.)
[click to view]

(3). New Internationalist. Risking fjords for profit? Norway’s dirty mining story. 2 October 2014.
[click to view]

Media Links

Norwegian documentary about the fishermen's conflict
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Other Documents

Source: Young Friends of the Earth, Norway.
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Meta Information
ContributorAnders Vieth Rør, former student at Norwegian University of Life Sciences, EJ Activist (email:[email protected])
Last update17/07/2018