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Reppardfjord/Nussir copper mining case, Norway


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. 

The company Nussir ASA has currently permission to deposit up to two (2) million tonnes of waste (mostly excess rock with traces of copper and nickel) into the Reppardfjord anually. The Reppardfjord is a national salmon fjord and rich fishing fjord hosting a local fishermen collective with Norwegian and Sámi fishers.  The project has received major criticism for the potential destruction of marine and terrestrial habitat inflicting socio-environmental costs for the local community and disruption of the traditional livelihoods of the indigenous Sámi community.  The conflict reveals incommensurable traditional values versus industrial values, the power asymmetry in the decision-making process, the shortcomings of consultation as a participation method, the potential violation of laws and rights, and the disputes over mining impacts for development, on the environment and on stakeholders. The conflict has not been resolved due to the local and national government’s strong political will to expand mining extraction in Northern Norway. As a result, the process to establish the Nussir mine is a case of procedural injustices, while the expected cost-benefit distribution from the mine is unjust as costs can be shifted upon impacted stakeholders.  

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Reppardfjord/Nussir copper mining case, Norway
State or province:Finnmark
Location of conflict:Kvalsund 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 commodities:Copper

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Deposits: 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:150,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:1,000 - 4 000 people
Start of the conflict:2014
Company names or state enterprises:Nussir ASA from Norway - Extractor
Relevant government actors:Norwegian Government
Norwegian Environmantal Agency
Sámi Parliament
International and Finance InstitutionsCredit Suisse (CS) from Switzerland
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Friends of the Earth/Naturvernforbundet (
Nature and Youth (
Bivdi (Sea-Sámi fishing organisation)

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Recreational users
Local scientists/professionals
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
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-economical 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
Other socio-economic impactsImpact on Sámi reindeer pasture land and also on salmon fisheries


Project StatusPlanned (decision to go ahead eg EIA undertaken, etc)
Conflict outcome / response:Under negotiation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain: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 & Materials

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

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.

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

(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

(4) Can Norway's Sami score another success against mining? Published by MAC on 2015-12-10

(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.)

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

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Norwegian documentary about the fishermen's conflict

Other documents

Source: Young Friends of the Earth, Norway.

Meta information

Contributor:Anders Vieth Rør, former student at Norwegian University of Life Sciences, EJ Activist (email:[email protected])
Last update17/07/2018



Source: Young Friends of the Earth, Norway.