Sweden’s government gave a green light on Tuesday to Britain’s Beowulf Mining (BEM.L) to proceed to mine iron ore in the far north that has been opposed by indigenous people over its environmental impact.
Beowulf can now begin with economic and environmental studies and apply to an environmental court to start processing ore, but it will have to meet a range of environmental and other conditions which the government attached to its approval.
Critics say the mine in Kallak, also know as Gallok, would endanger a protected ecosystem and block reindeer migration. read more
“I think there will be a mine here,” Enterprise Minister Karl-Petter Thorwaldsson told reporters. “I would say the biggest obstacle is the environmental study, because that is quite complicated in Sweden.”
Thorwaldsson said there were a range of regulatory steps for the company to pass before the mine could start operations.
Plans for the mine have been opposed by the indigenous Sami people, who have the backing of U.N. rights experts and the U.N. cultural organisation UNESCO, as well as climate-change activist Greta Thunberg.
“Sweden pretends to be a leader for environment and human rights, but at home they violate indigenous rights and continue waging a war on nature,” Thunberg said on Twitter after the government’s decision. “The world will remember this.”
Kallak is northern Sweden 40 kilometers (25 miles) west of the town of Jokkmokk, which sits just north of the Arctic Circle and houses the Sami parliament. The nomadic ethnic group live mostly modern lifestyles but still tend reindeer and some still wear their traditionally bright-colored national dress.
In a separate statement, Beowulf Mining PLC CEO Kurt Budge said its ambition “is to build the most sustainable mine possible.” Jokkmokk Iron Mines AB is the name of British company Beowulf Mining’s wholly owned Swedish subsidiary.
“The award of the concession is simply a long-awaited milestone on the development timeline and we are now looking forward to environmental permits,” he said.
For years, both the reindeer industry and the environmental movement worked to prevent Beowulf Mining’s plans to open a mine near Jokkmokk, Swedish broadcaster SVT said. The case has been tried by several different authorities and bodies — but in the end, the issue landed on the government’s plate. ———
Source – Reuters