Norway is famous for its rich, untouched nature – and for its fish. Shockingly, the Norwegian government has put both at stake with a controversial decision in 2015 to permit dumping of vast amounts of mine waste in the pristine Førdefjord.
One of the backings of this outdated practice has been the support by financial institutions such as Citigroup. Together with the international campaign “Ditch Ocean Dumping”, Friends of the Earth Norway/ Naturvernforbundet has been calling on these magnates to divest from any project or company that employs this dirty practice, in Norway or other countries.
By taking a clear stand against mine waste dumping, Citigroup and Standard Chartered are joining a growing movement of governments, companies, mine-impacted communities, and civil society organisations calling for an end to the practice.
“We applaud Standard Chartered for taking a leadership role in ending ocean mine waste dumping. It’s dirty, unnecessary and wrong,” said Ellen Moore of Earthworks, which is coordinating “Ditch Ocean Dumping”. “Banks and financial institutions must actively take steps to ensure that they are not bankrolling the destruction of our oceans.”
“This gives us motivation to keep fighting to protect our valuable fjords” said Jorunn Vallestad, Biodiversity advisor at Friends of the Earth Norway, who has worked for many years to try stop the plans of dumping mining waste in Førdefjord and Repparfjord on the coast of Norway. “Now we are calling on other funds, banks and financial institutions to join Standard Chartered Bank and Citibank, declaring that it is against their environmental profile to finance mines dumping waste in the sea.”
Mine waste, so-called tailings, can contain up to three dozen dangerous chemicals, including arsenic, lead, mercury, and cyanide. Apart from the huge impact on fish, wildlife and consumers, its dumping in the sea puts the livelihood of entire indigenous communities in danger. While most countries phased out mine waste dumping long ago, Chile, Turkey, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and Norway still have mines disposing waste in the sea.