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Norra Kärr near lake Vättern, Sweden


The mining project in Norra Karr is located in Jonkoping municipality and started with prospecting in 2009. Tasman Metals Ltd (a subsidiary of a Canadian firm) was originally responsible for the project but they merged with another mining company and is now called Leading Edge Metals. They have found rare earth minerals and zirconium in Norra Karr and claim that the deposit is the fourth largest in the world. Leading Edge Minerals also claim the deposit will be important for the whole world and the minerals will mostly be used for green technology. Compared to mining in other parts of the world, the company states that it would be better to mine the minerals in Sweden considering that the regulation is stricter there than in most other countries. Since 2009 they were granted a concession, which gave them permission to continue exploring the ground for minerals. However, the concession permission was appealed to multiple instances including the government, but the appeal was rejected. The Swedish government has a set target to be Europe's leading mining country. Finally, the Supreme Administrative Court overturned the concession permission due to the fact that Leading Edge Materials had not described the potential environmental impact of facilities such as tailing dams on the surrounding environment. Norra Karr is located near a "Natura 2000" area which is protected by EU law. The proposed mine is also located close by and uphill of Vättern, a lake which now (2020) provides 250 000 people in Sweden with fresh water, but the number will in the next 20 years increase to 400000. Even Stockholm and Copenhagen have shown interest for the water from Vättern. Vättern is the biggest fresh water reserve in Europe. A lot of environmental groups including Save the Baltic have been concerned by the impact the mine might have on Vättern. One of their concerns is that sulphuric acid is used to separate the rare earth minerals from other minerals. The waste minerals are then stored in tailing ponds. Environmental groups are concerned that both acids and minerals will leak into the surrounding environment and specifically into Vattern, which could spoil the drinking water for hundreds of thousands of people. Environmental groups are also concerned about the consequences this will have on the surrounding environment, and how this will affect plants and animals in the area. These groups also stress that the company only deposit a small bond as security against damages, this is way to small for the actual damage that could occur. The bond accounts for 50,000 SEK (5,500 USD), comparing to similar companies that have spent up to 200,000,000 SEK (22,000,000 USD) on damages. The environmental groups stress that the company have reserved an insufficient amount of money to pay for the environmental degradation.

Update 20/06/2023:

The project is still under discussion. In May 2021, the Swedish Mining Inspectorate rejected an application from the company Leading Edge Materials Corp for a processing license on the grounds that a Natura 2000 (natural protected areas defined by the EU with special protection requirements) permit was required. But the decision was appealed and it is still unclear what will happen in the future with the plan for a mine [1].

The local group Aktion Rädda Vättern (“Action to Protect Vättern”) is monitoring the moves of the companies closely. They have laid out their arguments to be against the opening of the mine: it threatens the lake’s drinking water, it poses a threat to the environment of the lakes east of Nörra Kärr, there’s a risk of constant leakage of heavy metals and other pollutants as well as floodings, rare earth elements can be recycled which will reduce demand for new extraction, the tourism industry provides more jobs than the potential mine, etc. One is the low concentration of rare earth elements in the area: they will need to “break apart” 1000 kg of mountain to obtain 1kg of REE.

Currently, there is a process under way to change the Swedish Mineral Law. There is a new proposal under discussion to remove the requirement  for a permit in Natura 2000 marked areas prior to the application for a mining concession [2] [3].

The mining company is waiting to submit the environmental impact assessments requested by the county administrative board several years ago. 

The company's latest idea is to transport the extracted material to a facility in Luleå, which is expected to be built there. LKAB intends to exploit the deposit of rare earth metals found north of Kiruna and do the final processing in Luleå. The company in Norra Kärr would thus be able to avoid the dirtiest part of the mining process taking place at Vättern. However, the landfill of the rest remains, which is a large part of what is mined: the proportion of the mineral is on average 0.4%, more than 99% crushed material is deposited. This mound (the size of at least 50 Globes) causes significant environmental impact through leaching via acid rain and flooding of uranium, thorium and lead in the bedrock. The mineral that contains REM - Eudialyte - is magnetic and should, after crushing, be distinguishable with magnets and not acids. It remains to be seen whether this is technically possible. The Mining Inspectorate has abandoned its rules and postponed its requirement to submit an EIA within three years without the company losing its exploration license. 

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Norra Kärr near lake Vättern, Sweden
State or province:Jönköpings municipality (Jonkoping)
Location of conflict:Gränna (Granna)
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mining exploration and/or ore extraction
Specific commodities:Water
Rare metals
Rare earth minerals. Zirconium

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Leading Edge Materials plan to extract 1,2 million mineral ore/year

Project area:1000
Level of Investment for the conflictive project11,476,000
Type of populationSemi-urban
Affected Population:> 250000
Start of the conflict:01/12/2009
Company names or state enterprises:Leading Edge Materials Corp from Sweden
Tasman Metals AB from Sweden
Relevant government actors:-The Swedish government
-The mining inspectorate of Sweden
-The Geological Survey of Sweden.
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Faltbiologerna (
Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC) (
Supermiljobloggen (
Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (
Aktion Rädda Vättern

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityLOW (some local organising)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Local ejos
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Media based activism/alternative media
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns


Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Waste overflow, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Other socio-economic impactsSlow violence


Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Project temporarily suspended
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:The project has been revoked by the Swedish Supreme Administration Court and is temporarily on hold. Leading Edge Materials now has to submit a new environmental impact assessment to the Mining Inspectorate where the potential effects of tailings ponds on the surrounding environment are included. The fact that Leading Edge Materials needs to make further assessments and the project has been put on hold can only be viewed as a temporary success if the ultimate goal is to stop the mine altogether, which many environmental groups believe is necessary. Otherwise the drinking water and the wildlife are forever threatened.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[2] Bokstavsutredning om Natura 2000-tillstånd i samband med gruvverksamhet, 2023

Miljöbalk (1998:808). The Swedish Environmental Code

Adjudgement by The Swedish Supreme Court.öranden/2016/Februari/2047-14.pdf

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries


"Leading Edge Material Corp. Condensed consolidated interim financial statements for the three months ended January 31 2017.

[1] SVT, may 9 2022. Omstridd gruvplan lever vidare – riksdagspolitiker på plats vid Norra Kärr

[3] Aktuell Hallbarhet, MArch 15 2023. ”Gruvutredningen om Natura 2000 ett magplask”

Leading Edge Material Corps's website

Tasman Metals AB's website

The environmental group "faltbiologerna" calls for mobilization.

Mining plans on hold at Gränna (Granna).

Save the Baltic. An organisation that works for the protection of the lake, Vattern

The mining project and the surrounding Natura 2000-areas.

Tasman Metal AB set 50 000 SEK (5500 USD) as a bond guaranteeing the safety of their operations. Taxpayers may account for the mining companies remediation costs, since a remediation is estimated at 200 million SEK (22 million USD).

The government is sending back application for mining operations at Norra Karr to the Mining Inspectorate for a new assessment.

This means that the mine will be investigated again

Aktion Rädda Vättern (Website)


Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

A Facebook-page for people engaged in the future of Vättern (Vattern).

Meta information

Contributor:Linnea Petersson, Frida Krüsell, Joar Alf (Lund University)
Last update13/04/2017
Conflict ID:2768