Eiliv, a member of the Association of Norwegian Salmon River Owners, is fighting a proposed open-pit rutile and garnet mine that would dump nearly 250 million tonnes of waste into the Førdefjord, impacting fishing and tourist industries, human health, animals, and the environment. We’re sharing Eiliv’s story as a part of our efforts to pressure mining companies and the banks that fund them to #DitchOceanDumping.
Eiliv Erdal lives where the Nausta River connects with the Fordefjord. Salmon pass this intersection in both directions, traveling out to sea and coming back to spawn. Eiliv knows what this migration represents: the backbone of the local economy.
“I used to see the mine as positive for the region,” he says. “But now it is clear we aren’t going to benefit. The fjord will be destroyed and the profit will go elsewhere. ”
The mine he’s referring to is Nordic Mining’s proposed Engebø mine which would, if built, remove the top of Engebø Mountain and dump 250 million tonnes of mine waste directly into the fish-rich Førdefjord.
After spending his teenage years abroad, Eiliv returned to Naustdal and the pristine waters of the fjord. Along with his wife, Eiliv rents out fishing rights on the Nausta river, attracting sports fisherman from around the world. Together they also run a small dairy farm that supplies milk to the local dairy coop. He cooperates with the Association of Norwegian Salmon River Owners, which is working to improve salmon habitat in Norway’s rivers. Earlier this year, Eiliv pushed the association to take a position opposing the company’s plans to dump mine waste in the fjord.
“Our main concern is that the salmon won’t have food during their migration to the sea. The dumping will create a wasteland, or a food desert, in the middle of the fjord,” he says.
Over the years, he became disillusioned by Nordic Mining’s tactics and less and less convinced by their science. Now he is one of the most vocal opponents of the project. He says attempts to get more government investment in tourism in the area has been blocked by “the boys” – the industry representatives and their friends in local government.
“Our government should focus on promoting local industries that sustainably use nature,” he says. “People here don’t want job opportunities in the mining industry. People want to be part of nature while making money.”
Eiliv has heard that one of the products from the Nordic mine would be titanium dioxide, which is used to make white whiter.
“If it means destroying our nature,” he says, “I’m willing to accept a bit of grey.”
Banner Photo: Anders Neteland / Netelandproduction