Activists chain themselves to mining drill in Sweden

Radio SwedenEye on the Arctic

Around 10 activists chained themselves on Wednesday to a large drill machine at a mine in Norra Kärr, by Sweden’s second largest lake, Vättern.

“People are sitting on the back of drill,” activist Malin Norrby told Swedish Radio P4 Jönköping.

The company Tasman Metals is doing test drilling for rare earth elements at Norra Kärr.

The metals are used in the manufacturing of things like computers, mobile phones and wind power generators. Until now this type of metal has mostly been found in China. According to the company, the deposit in Norra Kärr is the only one in Europe and one of the four biggest in the world.

But there has been a lot of protest against the company’s plans. The site is a few miles from Lake Vättern. The Green Party and the activist organization Save the Water, among others, have spoke out against the plans.

“This destruction of the environment must stop,” a person at the scene told P4 Jönköping.

Concerns about water quality

One of the demonstrators said that they are concerned that the drilling will affect the safety of the water in the region.

The activist group calls itself Kolonierna (the colonies) and one of the demonstrators, Mose, who did not want to give his last name, said that they began sitting on the drill at 5 a.m. Wednesday.

“We are hoping that this will lead to a reasonable discussion about the mines,” Mose said to newspaper Smålandsnytt.

Tasman Metals Chief Executive Officer Henning Holmström was taking the protest calmly.

“It is naturally disappointing, but at the same time it is expected. But the test drilling has been ongoing for two weeks already, so one can say that the guests have come too late to the party,” Holmström said.

Holmström also said that the company is not doing exploration drilling now, but drilling for environmental surveys, done in conjunction with tests for ground water among others.

“One can see it as a bit ironic, that environmental activists are protesting against environmental surveying,” Holmström said.

Police officers were on the scene earlier, but all of them have since left. Police have not received a complaint from the mining company and the occupied machine was not planned to be used on Wednesday.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch News as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.