Hunt For Battery Metals Threatens Sámi Reindeer Herders' Homeland

"Tuomas Siilasjoki and Minna Näkkäläjärvi say they were taken by surprise when a mobile drill rig one day appeared in the horizon. Nobody had asked them about exploring for minerals inside their siida, a reindeer foraging area, in northern Finland. The Sámi families here in Tarvantovaara wilderness area fear the world's hunger for metals to ramp up the green economy will destroy their indigenous way of life.

There is not much vegetation on the mountain plateau, but for reindeer, this is valuable feeding grounds in summer and autumn. Windy enough to avoid insects so more time can be spent on eating. The picturesque landscape in Finland’s northwestern “arm” is one of Europe’s last great wilderness. The nearest road is several hours’ walk away. From a height of about 600 meters above sea level, the Norwegian municipality of Kautokeino can be seen to the north and the Swedish village of Karesuando is in the far horizon to the south.

Homeland to Sámi reindeer herders since ancient times, though, it is what is beneath the surface of these moss- and lichen-covered rocks that now draws global attention. Studies made by the Geological Survey of Finland show findings of nickel, copper, vanadium and cobalt, all being minerals highly demanded in the production of electric vehicle batteries. According to a scenario report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) the numbers of electric vehicles are expected to boom up to 116 million in 2030. That is significantly up from the 2020 estimated sales of EVs, believed to be 1,7 million globally."

Thomas Nilsen reports for the Barents Observer July 9, 2020.

Source: Barents Observer, 07/13/2020