Tina Andersen Vågenes is a member of Young Friends of the Earth Norway.
This week, I, along with nine other activists, went to trial for peacefully protesting a mining company’s proposal to dump mine waste into Norway’s iconic fjords. We pled not guilty, arguing that our act of civil disobedience was crucial to protect the Førde fjord.
Activists from all over Norway protested Nordic Mining this past February by blocking its test drill site in the Engebø Mountain. Eighty-six people were arrested during the 3-week action, and 10 of those protesters just wrapped up our trial.
In 2015 the Norwegian government granted Nordic Mining permission to start mining rutile from this region. The permits would allow the company to dump 250 million tons of mining waste into the fjords. This plan has drawn opposition from people from all walks of life in Norway – from people in the fishing and tourism industries to marine researchers to students like me. We are concerned the deposit will harm fish species critical to both the economy and local ecosystems, including cod, blue ling and salmon. Marine researchers warn the mining tailings can suffocate the organisms living on the bottom of the fjord, as well as raise the seabed by almost 150 meters. Nordic Mining claims life in the deposit area will come back some years after the mining period is over, but even if this were true, their waste dumping would still leave parts of the fjord practically dead for more than 60 years.
That’s why I joined this large group, peacefully occupying the proposed drill site for 12 hours everyday for three weeks. Police fined us $117,000 for these actions. As most of us refused to pay the fines, we now face trial.
We’re thankful for the outpouring of supporting we’ve received. Private donations have helped cover some of our legal fees, and many Norwegians have organized events supporting those of us in trial. We hope the trial can continue to raise awareness about the mine, and push the Norwegian authorities to retract the permission.
While we wait for the verdict, here are some things you can do to help us:
– Share information about the Førde fjord mine on social media using #savethefjords
– If you haven’t already, urge the Norwegian government to revoke Nordic Mining’s permit here.
– And contact Young Friends of the Earth Norway to see how you can contribute