Cobalt is a mineral used for the batteries of electric cars and renewable energy infrastructures, among others. As the energy transition is gaining momentum due to climate change, its demand is expected to grow exponentially in the near future . Today, half of the cobalt production comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)  . Nevertheless, the interest in carrying out mining in the global north is continuously growing . In Europe specifically, mineral exploration and consequently mining licenses are increasing so as to reduce the dependency on other countries .
In the Arctic, resource extraction has been increasing since 2005 . The north of Finland specifically, has been ranked as one of the most attractive countries for mining  . These northern regions are considered to be one of the richest in copper and nickel around Europe , and consequently also in cobalt. Today, mining is already a key income source for the country . Yet, under the increase in demand, the Finnish government has augmented mining exploration massively . Accordingly, Finland offers inviting laws in favor of mining companies such as low taxation, building infrastructure, and offering to finance for mining companies , . In Lapland, the northernmost area in Finland, it goes so far that one-third of its territory is reserved for mining activities . What is more, even though the land is under the government’s ownership and there are indigenous people inhabiting part of the territory, its use is prioritized for private profit .
In the north of the municipality Sodankylä, a resource-rich region  located in the region of Lapland, the mining company Anglo America has underway one of the most controversial mining projects, the Sakatti mine. The project is estimated to run from 2026 to 2028. Afterward, it is expected to continue for 20 more years . The exploitation of the minerals is going to be performed on top of a natural protected area, the Viiankiaapa nature conservation area, where ten plant species and twenty-one bird species that are being listed as threatened have been located . Furthermore, Viiankiaapa is considered to be the habitat for many more species. Yet, it is not only flora and fauna that are endangered by the Sakatti mine but likewise, the indigenous community Sámi is facing high threats to their rights and livelihood. Importantly, this indigenous community, living in the northernmost Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, and Finland) and Russia, is the only indigenous community left from the European Union . The total Sámi population is estimated to be over 75.000 who, since 1996, have constitutional self-governance in their homeland, managed by the Sámi Parliament. In Finland specifically, approximately 10.000 Sámi people are living in northern Lapland .
Most of the Sámi people live from reindeer herding . Furthermore, these animals are crucially a part of their culture and lifestyle . It has still not been proven whether reindeer herding and the Sakatti mine can coexist. However, the reindeer herders are considered to be the group that will probably be the most negatively affected by the mining project . Mining will interfere with the herd’s pasture rotation and it could destroy the habitat of the reindeers and Sámi community . There are further possible social and environmental impacts caused by noise, dust, tremors from blasts, tailing ponds, among others. These are consequences that worry the herders since it could not only affect their own health but also the one from the reindeers and other plants and animals. Moreover, it can be very dangerous for reindeers to walk into the mining area. These animals also face higher risks due to the expected increase in traffic. Additionally, there are “unpredictable effects from the underground mining on the hydrology of the peatland and rivers”, which will consequently also compromise the water resources, affecting negatively reindeer herders and other living species . In addition, individuals living or using the lands just outside the project for hunting, berry picking or hiking, will also be negatively impacted by the mining project since the area will be occupied by mining infrastructure .
Even though the mining company has made, according to them, an environmental assessment of the project and has dialogued with the herders , the consequences have not been considered relevant enough comparing it to the amount of employment and income the project will generate . This corroborates the relative disregard for the indigenous rights the Sámi people have. While in Finland the community has constitutional rights to their own language, culture, and traditional livelihood practices, such as reindeer herding, and the right to the land and water they used before the Finnish state emerged, the government still owns 90% of the Sámi lands . Furthermore, Finland has not yet approved the ILO169 agreement, which ensures these rights . Finally, while the Sámi people should by law be consulted before deciding whether to launch or not a mine, they do not have the right to make any request regarding their Sámi homeland. This right is reserved for private mining companies .
For the endorsement of the Sakatti mine, different workshops were organized in order to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the project. However, “representatives of the village associations and reindeer herders had to go to the workshops at their own expense”, which narrowed down a lot the number of potential participants . The Sámi Parliament directly declined the invitation since they considered that the whole project would only be harmful to them . The Sámi community has declared not to be interested in reaching any agreement since their livelihood is directly threatened by the mining activity. Accordingly, the government is not prioritizing the indigenous community and is not fully allowing the people most affected by the project to have a say in the decisions that affect their lives, which as Hanna (2000, 2005) stated, is something fundamental . Ironically, the mining company Anglo America, promises that they respect all stakeholders and that they are in continuous contact with them in order to understand and fulfill everyone’s needs. They also promise that the project will be developed in a responsible matter and that Sakatti will improve everyone’s lives in the future .
The Sakatti mine is expected to become a huge international environmental conflict . The Sámi community sees their territory targeted which will cause them to be displaced, or even to change their way of life. A similar situation occurred in the Tarvantovaara wilderness area, where one of the Sámi mentioned in an interview that they will not have any other place to go to as all other territories are already occupied by further Sámi groups . Therefore, as a consequence of the Sakatti mine and in many other similar cases, the indigenous community experience the environmental impacts that mining causes, as a form of dispossession and environmental injustice .