Permit for mining activities at Engebø

The Ministry of Climate and Environment is granting a permit pursuant to the Pollution Control Act for mining activities at Engebø. The permit is in accordance with the recommendation made by the Norwegian Environment Agency with the assumption that the local development plan for the Engebø area would be approved. The Ministry for Local Government and Modernisation has approved the local development plan.

The permit is given with strict conditions to reduce pollution from the mining activity. Mining at Engebø and mine tailings disposal on the seabed in the Førde fjord has advantages and disadvantages which have been comprehensively assessed.

-The permit is granted with such strict conditions that mining activity and sea tailings disposal in the fjord is acceptable. The conditions are comprehensive in order to prevent negative environmental impacts. Through extensive monitoring of the fjord we will be able to follow closely any possible effects on the biological diversity in the fjord and nearby rivers. Seafood safety is also an important concern, says Minister of Climate and Environment, Tine Sundtoft.

 Nordic Mining ASA applied for a permit pursuant to the Pollution Control Act on August 8, 2008. The project is to mine rutile (titanium dioxide) and extract the mineral through dressing processes at Engebø in Naustdal municipality. The application has been subject to a broad consultation process. March 13, 2013, the company was asked to provide additional information. This additional information has been important to the consideration of the permit.

The Ministry of Climate and Environment is granting this permit on the basis of the recommendation made by the Norwegian Environment Agency on February 13, 2015. The Ministry has considered the environmental disadvantages of the project against other concerns. The Ministry finds the probability of serious harm to (among other) dogfish and blue ling to be limited and that the project can be permitted.

To reduce harmful effects on the environment from the project the Ministry has set strict conditions pertaining to blasting, noise and dust, discharge of process chemicals, placing extractive waste/tailings back into the excavation void and alternative use of tailings and waste rock. Conditions to prevent dispersion of fine particles/tailings from the sea tailings disposal site and monitoring of particle dispersion and biodiversity are especially important.  

The risk of dispersion of particles from the sea tailing disposal site has been central to the assessment of the permit application. The additional studies undertaken by the company show very little risk of dispersion of particles beyond the sea tailing disposal site. Therefore, the probability of negative consequences for organisms living in the fjord such as local populations of cod, eel and salmon is limited. To reduce impacts from blasting on the migration patterns of  salmon in particular the permit requires that blasting is avoided in the main smolt migration period.

The company will use chemicals in the dressing process but none of these contain hazardous substances. Requirements on monitoring will ensure that possible impacts from the use of chemicals will be discovered, including effects on seafood safety.