Environmentalists Block Test-Drilling for Minerals in Lapland, Finland


Europe’s green transition pushes for more mines to open. However, a group of environmentalists stopped test drilling in what is believed to be an exceptionally rich copper and nickel deposit in northern Finland on Tuesday

Photo: Extinction Rebellion Finland

Viiankiaava is a well-known protected swamp area north of Sodankylä in Lapland, Finland, some 120 kilometres inside the Arctic Circle.

Waders, wood sandpipers and willow warblers are some of the birds nesting in the area. By law, human activity is limited to bushwalking and picking berries. Moreover, it is forbidden to disturb animals or move rocks and plants in this area.

For Sakatti Mining Oy, a Finnish subsidiary of the giant Anglo American mining company, potential mining will for environmental reasons take place deep underground with no surface installations inside the nature reserve. However, current test borings aimed to assess the potential for metals are conducted from a rig on the earth’s surface.

I think it’s outrageous that even protected areas are not safe from mining companies, says one of the four environmentalists with Elokapina - Extinction Rebellion Finland that blocked the drilling rig on Tuesday.

According to the Extinction Rebellion’s website, an environmental movement, known in Finland as Elokapina, is an international movement which uses non-violent civil disobedience in order to halt the progression of the sixth mass extinction and to minimise the risk of social collapse caused by the climate and environmental crisis.

The group argues that underground exploration here could threaten to dry up the marshland above the mining tunnels.

Groundwater will leak into the tunnels, drying up the groundwater in the entire swamp area, the group states.

Sakatti Mining has valid permits to drill the rocks during this winter season both inside and outside the boundaries of the protected area.

The company describes Viiankiaapa as a rich multi-metal deposit with “excellent exploration potential for metals of the future.”

The environmentalists warn locals against promises of big money and bright prosperities.

They promise work and livelihood, but most of the profits will in reality go abroad and the disadvantages will remain on the account of the locals forever, one of the four environmentalists continued.

Political pressure to find climate solutions from inside Europe doesn’t make it easier for environmentalists to protest the mining plans.

Battery manufacturers for carmakers such as VW, Nissan, Hyundai and Tesla are already rushing to get as many raw materials as possible. In addition, metal prices are skyrocketing, making mining companies even more eager to explore new areas…

Electrification of the transport sector and renewable energy production are key factors in slowing the global climate crisis. Yet, it all comes with a price: Mining that leads to negative environmental impacts.

Source: The Barents Observer