Rhetoric vs Reality at Europe's Extractive Frontiers

New research from YLNM reveals that, beneath the greenwash, massive, business-as-usual mining expansion is underway in the island of Ireland and Fennoscandia.




Read: Fennoscandia research dispatchRead: Island of Ireland research dispatch

Image: the ongoing occupation against Nussir in Riehppovuotna/Repparfjorden, Norway. Photo: Svein Lund

New research has revealed a spike in the number of mining projects and massive expansion of areas under concession for mining on the island of Ireland and in Sweden, Finland and Norway.

Analysis of geological and permitting data shows that a staggering 27% of the Republic of Ireland and 25% of Northern Ireland are now under concession for mining. 

Meanwhile Finnish, Norwegian and Swedish authorities have granted concessions for tens of thousands of hectares of land, with mining pressure increasing particularly dramatically in Sápmi – the home territory of the Indigenous Sámi Peoples. 

Two new research dispatches from the Yes to Life, No to Mining Network (YLNM) explore how and why these nations – and the mining industry – are re-framing mining as a solution to climate change in order to facilitate domestic extraction of so-called ‘strategic’, ‘critical’ and ‘transition’ minerals required for renewable energy, military and digital technologies. 

Read YLNM’s research dispatches from the island of Ireland and Fennoscandia.

Svein Lund, co-author of the Fennoscandian dispatch, says:

“In 2013 the Norwegian Government made a Mineral Strategy saying that mineral extraction should be increased and that it was acceptable to dump tailings into sea. The motivation for extraction was income for the state and municipalities and working places. There was no talk of any ‘green shift’. That came three years later… Suddenly all mining companies and their allies became ‘green’. This was an immense PR trick for them. Later, when northern Norwegian counties made their own Mineral Strategy, they presented the whole and sole motivation for mining as the Green Shift. Now all miners are supposedly green and they are attacking protesters for not bothering about the climate!”

YLNM’s new research examines state and corporate claims that mining in Europe represents a gold standard of regulation and corporate practice that justifies creating new mining sacrifice zones in the name of climate action.

Without exception, the authors – in all nations – report a vast gap between this rhetoric and the realities of mining at Europe’s new extractive frontiers, highlighting systemic rights violations and ecological harm. 

Adjunct Professor Tero Mustonen, Lead Author of the IPCC, Member of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group, Snowchange Cooperative, and report co-author says:

“Finland and the Nordics should lead in global conservation and rights issues and that is why it is so sad that behind the international facade we find blatant power politics, greed and full dismissal of precautionary principles when it comes to mining on our lands, some of which are the last remaining intact wilderness in Europe. The public and the people need to know these issues in this even, balanced and scholarly assessment released today.”

Communities on the frontlines of mining across Fennoscandia, the Island of Ireland and beyond are seeing through the greenwashing of the mining industry at a time of climate emergency, write the authors. 

Hannibal Rhoades, Northern European contact for the YLNM Network, says:

“There is growing evidence that the ecological toll of massive, market-driven global mining expansion will have a serious negative effect on our efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. It will also undermine the human rights of communities worldwide. The pressing question, then, isn’t where new mining should happen, as European states and the European Union suggest, but how to immediately and dramatically reduce the need for new mines anywhere by tackling the ultimate drivers of this industry- overconsumption, inequity and unlimited economic growth.”

In solidarity with people impacted by mining globally, communities in the Island of Ireland and Fennoscandia are demanding and demonstrating solutions to the climate crisis that do not expand dirty mining. 

Lynda Sullivan, author of the Island of Ireland dispatch, says:

“Calls for the Republic and Northern Ireland’s governments to recognise that we cannot mine our way out of the climate crisis are growing, as are community-led examples of alternative pathways out of the climate crisis and towards justice and lasting peace among people and with the land. The message from communities at the new frontlines of the Island’s new extractive frontiers is clear- respect our existence, or expect resistance.” 


Read YLNM’s research dispatches from the island of Ireland and Fennoscandia.


Press contacts:

Hannibal Rhoades, Yes to Life, No to Mining Northern Europe



Lynda Sullivan, Author, Island of Ireland dispatch



Mirko Nikolic, Editor, Fennoscandian dispatch



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