Approves mineral development at Engebø mountain

The Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation approves mineral development at Engebø mountain in the municipality of Naustdal. - The government is accommodating for business development and new job opportunities in the county. At the same time we lay down strict requirements for environmental monitoring and sea food quality, underlines Minister of Local Government and Modernisation, Mr. Jan Tore Sanner.

The Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation has approved the zoning plan for the Engebø mountain in the municipalities of Naustdal and Askvoll. The ministry is of the opinion that it is important to develop valuable mineral deposits and accommodate for business developments and new, permanent job opportunities in the county of Sogn and Fjordane.

The Engebø project is the largest planned mineral development project in Norway and can provide 300 permanent job opportunities  in the region.

- Norway needs a wider range of employment in order to finance tomorrows welfare.  This project will strengthen the business development of the Sogn and  Fjordane county and provide positive impacts for the entire Sunnfjord region, states Mr. Sanner.

The environmental impacts of the planned sea disposal site in the Førde fjord have been thoroughly examined and alternative sites have been considered. The negative impacts for the marine environment and for the fisheries and sea food businesses are assessed to be limited.

- An essential prerequisite for accepting the project is that the environmental considerations and the sea food quality are being respected. This is why the discharge permit contains strict environmental requirements. Norway has experience from other sea disposal sites, and this is the strictest discharge permit issued related to disposal from mining, stresses Mr. Sanner.

Strict requirements are made to ensure that Nordic Mining is conducting the project in an environmentally responsible way, e.g. through an environmental monitoring programme for the Førde fjord. Monitoring and documentation will be supervised by the responsible authorities. This is the first time a discharge permit contains requirements related to sea food quality.

The project has been under development since the municipalities approved the planning programme for the zoning plan in 2007. The Directorate of Fisheries made an objection to the plan in 2010. Since then the currents of the fjord, as well as supple­mentary surveys of species and biological diversity, have been investigated at the sea deposit site. The research organisation SINTEF has assessed the risk of partical diffusion.

- On the basis of technical advice from  the Norwegian Environment Agency, we have found environmentally acceptable solutions. The impacts on the environment are thoroughly assessed. We have spent time on gathering supplementary knowledge and balancing the conflicting interests, emphasises Mr. Sanner.

The Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation has approved the zoning plan according to the Planning and building Act, whereas the Norwegian Ministry of Climate and Environment has given the consent to the application for discharge permit according to the Pollution Control Act.

Background information

  • Nordic Mining ASA wants to extract the mineral rutile at the Engebø mountain in the municipality of Naustdal. Rutile is used in pigment production for paints, cosmetics, medicine and foodstuff. It is also a vital ingredient in production of titanium metal.
  • Mining of rutile will be carried out as open pit production for a period of approximately 15 years, followed by underground production for approximately 35 years. Tailings from the rutile production will be deposited at 300-350 meters depth in the Førde fjord.
  • The planning process started in 2007. Nordic Mining submitted its proposal for a zoning plan to the municipalities of Naustdal and Askvoll in 2009.
  • The Directorate of Fisheries submitted an objection to the zoning plan in 2010. The Directorate was of the opinion that there was not sufficient knowledge on particle diffusion and impacts on vital fish stocks.
  • The municipalities approved the zoning plan for the Engebø mountain in 2011. The plan forms the basis for the mining and industrial production.
  • The rutile deposit at the Engebø mountain is the largest known deposit of rutile in solid rock in Norway and is of international importance. Extraction of vital mineral deposits is in line with the government’s objective to encourage growth in the mineral sector.
  • Nordic Mining conducted supplementary surveys in 2013/2014. These show that there is low risk of particle diffusion from the planned sea deposit site. Hence, there is low risk of impacts on species living outside the deposit site, e.g. salmon, coastal cod and eel. There is also low risk of impacts on nearby fish farming facilities.
  • Covering of the sea bed of the deposit site will impact on endangered species like dogfish and blue ling. The sea deposit might cause a slower increase of the stock of these species than desired.
  • Nordic Mining intends to deposit up to 4 million tons of tailing annually at sea. This is the same amount as Sydvaranger has been consented. Sydvaranger had their discharge consent renewed in 2008. Rana gruver deposits 3 million tons anually and had their consent renewed in 2012.
  • The Ministry’s approval means that the objection from the Directorate of Fisheries is not sustained.