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Mining and Reindeer Can Mix?
Written by Philip Burgess   
Tuesday, 13 April 2010 14:34
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dumptrukA multi stakeholder seminar was held in the Kautokeino, Norway yesterday which focussed on the issue of mining in Finnmark, an issue of some controversy in the region since the passing of the Finnmark Act which devolved desicion making powers over multiple resource issues to the region of Finnmark. The seminar was attended by the leader of the EALÁT project and several EALÁT partners including the leader of the Sami Reindeer Herders Association of Norway. Heavyweight politicians were present, including the Parliamentary leader of the governing Labour Party Helga Pedersen and the leader of the mining company Store Norske Gull, who have been active in staking claims  most particularly in the Karasjok region. Pedersen was unequivocal in her support for the future development of mining in the the region, which reindeer herders fear will mean the further erosion of winter pastures that are already under duress. Pedersen told NRK Sami Radio

Both Finnmark society and the Sami community is entirely dependent on new activity. If one is to preserve the culture and language we are going to have to have new jobs for the youth in the Sami villages. You can not save the Sami culture simply by having Sami kindergarten at Tøyen in Oslo and courses in communities with cafe lattes, it has to happen here, "said Helga Pedersen told NRK Sámi Radio.

Pedersen had recently announced investment in mining as being a part of Norway's High North strategy stated that she believed that 'stein og rein' (reindeer and stone / mining) could co exist:

The desire to develop the mining industry is welcomed and can be combined with taking care of reindeer industry. At sea one has managed to combine petroleum development, fishing and farming. We must manage the country well

Nils Henrik Sara, leader of the Sami Reindeer Herders Association of Norway (NBL-NRL) was not so confident that coexistence could occur in all areas,

There is talk of Finnmark as a whole, but you forget that reindeer herding is concentrated on the plateau (vidda). We know that there are some who have pastures where you can have both reindeer herding and mining, but we also know that there are areas where it is impossible to combine the two because of the organization of work and the limitations on grazing...I know that there exist several wishes, requirements and plans that have not yet been made public, and there is at least one thing is for sure, not all the planned activities can be built because the reindeer herding will be lost over most of the pastures

The Mining company Store Norske Gull AS has been looking for gold for the last six years in Finnmark, mainly in an area stretching from Porsanger to Anarjohka in Karasjok. The head of the company, Jorgen Stensvold, stated to NRK,

Reindeer and mineral business goes together in a larger context, in the big picture. But you go specifically into a specific area where you will find a gold deposit, there will be some areas where that there can be no grazing in the period in operation in progress...It means that someone (the reindeer herder) simply must move on. It is a reality we must realize that we can discuss openly and honestly even now

Certainly the mining claims that are currently available to public record are considerable in Finnmark - most expecially in the Karasjok and Kvalsund areas which are both important areas of reindeer husbandry - See pictures below.

Sara stressed the need for dialogue:

It's reindeer owners in that district who know best whether it is possible to have mining operations in the area and to what extent. That way you can customize the mining operations to reindeer herding in the area. The reindeer owners who know how much is tolerated.

In the last election (2009), the Labour Party of Norway won over 45% of the vote in Finnmark, one of the highest levels of support for the party in the country.

Read original story here

Finnmark, Mining
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