MAC: Mines and Communities

Sweden: Saami Communities take on foreign miners

Published by MAC on 2011-11-30
Source: Saami Council, The National Saami Association

Urgent rights appeal made to Canadian funder

An Australian company's proposal to mine on Saami land in Sweden "would leave 20,000 reindeer without grazing lands, and Saami families and communities without access to their customary lands".

That's according to a statement issued by the communities at Scandinavian Resources 2011 AGM, held on 25 November in Perth, Australia.

Scandalously, Swedish law does not recognise the right of its indigenous peoples to block mineral development when it goes against their interests.

However, revised OECD Guidelines for Multinational Corporations (2011) do insist that financial institutions undertake a risk-based "human rights due diligence" study of any project they may support.

In the light of this, the Saami Council's chief lawyer has urged Canaccord Financial (main backer of Scandinavian Resources) to visit the communities "in order to understand the severity of the human rights breaches concerned and why the communities will never consent to Scandinavian Resource proposed mining activities".

Meanwhile, a UK-based mining company has also been accused of violating international conventions by  encroaching on Saami territory - as well as breaching its own pretended "ethical guidelines".

For more information on Canaccord, see:

For previous coverage on this issue: Sweden: Saami communities protest against mining on their land

Saami Communities reject Australian mining proposal

Saami Council Media Release

25 November 2011

Scandinavian Resources (SCR), a small, Perth based, ASX listed exploration company, was criticised today about its plans to open several mines in the middle of critical reindeer herding habitat in northern Sweden that is essential for the survival of Saami reindeer herding as a traditional indigenous livelihood.

"We are absolutely opposed to exploration and mining on our traditional lands and we will do everything we can to stop this short-term plundering of our mountains" says Ingemar Blind, Chairman of the affected Girjas Saami Community. "We also know that other stakeholders in our region are of the same opinion and have grave concerns over the environmental damage mining will entail for our sensitive artic environment" says Tor-Erik Huuva, Chairman of the affected Laevas Saami community.

Members of Girjas and Laevas communities acted to ensure their voices were heard at the Annual General Meeting of Scandinavian Resources, which is trying to develop the mines through their subsidiary Kiruna Iron. Scandinavian Resources planned mining activities would violate fundamental human rights of the local Saami reindeer herders. Those backing Kiruna Iron also contribute to human rights violations.

Today the Saami Council has again written to Canaccord Genuity and Parety Securities - financial institutions mandated by SCR to raise financing for the mines - and advised them of the high environmental and social risks associated with the projects.

"Without the consent of local Saami communities, these projects are doomed to fail," says Mattias Åhrén, Chief Lawyer at Saami Council. "It is also ironic that a company with backing from Australia - a country where indigenous rights are well recognised - would come to Sweden and ignore the Saami people's right to say no to exploration and mining".

The Saami communities are opposed to any further mining in their areas and are being assisted in their campaign by Saami organisations, such as Saami Council and the National Swedish Saami Association, and also Australian based Mineral Policy Institute.

Media Contacts:
Mattias Åhrén, Chief Lawyer, Saami Council +47 47 37 91 61
Charles Roche, Mineral Policy Institute +61 (0)450 901 714
Mats Berg, Media Contact, Laevas and Girjas Saami Communities +46 70 397 6977

Statement from Saami Communities at Scandinavian Resources AGM

25 November 2011

Minerals Policy Institute is authorised, on behalf of Saami Council, the National Swedish Saami Association (SSR) and the local Saami reindeer herding communities of Girjas and Laevas, to read out the following statement at Scandinavian Resources AGM in Perth Australia on November 25th, 2011:

Scandinavian Resources, through their subsidiary Kiruna Iron AB, are planning mines on the traditional lands of the Indigenous Saami communities of Laevas and Girjas in the north of Sweden. These lands are of critical importance should the two reindeer herding communities be able to continuously pursue reindeer husbandry in the Arctic.

Mining in this area would leave 20,000 reindeer without grazing lands, and Saami families and communities without access to their customary lands. Reindeer herding is the central Saami traditional Indigenous livelihood and the key component of the communities’ and their members’ cultural and spiritual identity and is currently under enormous pressure from extractive industrial activities in Sápmi.

Given the devastating impacts Scandinavian Resources’ proposed mining activities would have on Girjas and Laevas respectively, the communities will never consent to the projects.

Rather, they will fight the planned mines to the largest extent possible. The Sami Parliament, Saami Council and the National Swedish Saami Association will do their utmost to support the communities in this struggle. They are optimistic that they will win this fight, as Scandinavian Resources’ planned mines violate fundamental human rights of the reindeer herders.

The reindeer herding communities hold property rights to the areas in question under both national and international law. They hence have the right to reject companies wishing to access the areas. As a key element of the Saami culture and the cultural identity of Saami reindeer herders, reindeer herding is also protected under the right to culture.

The UN Human Rights Committee’s application of Article 27 of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights affirms that mining activities rendering it seriously more difficult for reindeer herding communities to continuously pursue reindeer husbandry are prohibited.

Should Scandinavian Resources go ahead with the planned mines, investors in Scandinavian Resources and anyone purchasing products originating from the areas in dispute are complacent in human rights violations, something the Saami Council will make absolutely clear to potential investors in and customers to Scandinavian Resources.

In conclusion, we submit that pursuing the two planned mines would be very bad business for Scandinavian Resources.


The Saami communities welcomed a statement by Damien Hicks, Executive Director of Scandinavian Resources, made on the 28th August 2011 that the company cannot operate in an area without the support of local communities. Given this, will Scandinavian Resources commit to a process of Free Prior and Informed Consent of the affected Saami reindeer herding communities as a prerequisite to mining?

If so, when will this process commence? If not, how will Scandinavian Resources achieve the necessary permits and how will it explain the risks of a confrontationist strategy to shareholders and investors?

Letter to Canaccord Financial Inc

25 November 2011

Mr David Cassie, Group Chairman
Canaccord Financial Inc
2200-609 Granville Street, Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Mats Carlsson, CEO,
E. Öhman J:or Fondkommission AB
Box 7415, 10391 Stockholm

Dear Mr. Carlson and Mr. Cassie,

It has come to the attention of Saami Council that your companies – Pareto Öhman and Canaccord Genuity respectively – have been mandated by Scandinavian Resource Ltd to provide financial advice regarding their exploration and mining activities in Saami areas in northern Scandinavia.

We contacted your companies in September 2011 outlining our concerns over Scandinavian Resources (through their subsidiary Kiruna Iron AB) planned mining operations and the negative impacts on the local indigenous Saami communities (See Appendix 1).

We would now like to take the opportunity to further outline your obligations under the revised OECD Guidelines for Multinational Corporations 2011 (“Guidelines”) and how these impact upon your responsibilities as financial advisors to SCR. Please note, however, that as outlined in our previous letter the OCED Guidelines are only one of many international instruments your companies risk breaching.

First, the revised Guidelines have clarified that the Guidelines are applicable to the financial sector. They have also placed a heavier burden on financial institutions, requiring them to identify, prevent and mitigate all harmful impacts associated with their operations, including their supply chains. In other words, provisions in the Guidelines apply to financial institutions providing services to mining companies engaged in human rights breaches (OECD Guidelines, 2011, Human Rights §3).

Second, and following from this, the Guidelines now require that companies – including financial institutions – undertake a risk-based “human rights due diligence”, (OECD Guidelines, 2011, Human Rights §5).

This means that your companies need to ensure, through robust due diligence, that you are not complicit in human rights breaches through your services to Scandinavian Resources Ltd. Among other things, this requires companies to engage with impacted communities and rights-holders through meaningful stakeholder consultation.

In this context, it is necessary for us to reiterate that it is not sufficient for your companies to rely on Swedish law to ensure that Saami rights are protected. The Swedish mineral law and permitting processes have been heavily criticised by the UN for excluding Saami communities and not respecting indigenous rights, most recently in the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples´ report on the Saami people.

In the words of the Special Rapporteur: “The current [Swedish] Mining Act does not contain any provisions to accommodate for any special rights relevant to Sami people, and existing mining policies do not appear to be sufficient to protect Sami interests and rights over lands affected by mining”. In other words, complying with Swedish law is in no way any guarantee for Kiruna Iron, or its investors and partners, that they are not in breach of human rights.

We would prefer to avoid a situation where we are forced to raise a specific instance (i.e. complaint) with the National Contact Points in Canada, Norway, Sweden and Australia over Canaccord Genuity’s, Pareto’s and Scandinavian Resources involvement in human rights breaches in Scandinavia.

We would therefore like to extend an invitation to both Canaccord Genuity and Pareto so that you may visit the impacted Saami communities and undertake the necessarily due diligence as required by the Guidelines. We feel it is important that your companies engage directly with the Saami communities in order to understand the severity of the human rights breaches concerned and why the communities will never consent to Scandinavian Resource proposed mining activities.

We hope that you will accept this genuine invitation and contact us, so that we may assist you in organising meetings with the affected Saami communities. We are also more than happy to answer any questions you may have.

Yours respectfully,
Mattias Åhrén
Chief Lawyer
Saami Council
Telephone: +47 47 37 91 61

Canadian National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
Norwegian National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
Australian National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
Swedish National Contact Point for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises
OECD Watch
Human Rights Watch
Scandinavian Resources Board of Directors

Sweden: Saami Communities tell British mining company to respect their rights

The National Saami Association (SSR) Press Release

23 November 2011

Beowulf, a British based mining company, are currently in breach of internal human rights conventions by not respecting the right of local Indigenous Saami communities of Sirges and Jåhkågasska in Jokkmokk, Northern Sweden, to participate in negotiations concerning mining activities that affect their customary reindeer grazing lands. The company's conduct is not only in violation of international conventions, but also in breach of ethical guidelines that the company themselves claim to follow.

In contrast to what Beowulf has reported to its shareholders, the company has not shown any willingness to cooperate with Saami communities, as required by international conventions. This is demonstrated by the company's refusal to assist the communities' participation in impact assessments, which are necessary to obtain knowledge of how the proposed mining would impact upon the Saami communities and their land uses.

"Beowulf's behavior is extremely disrespectful. It suggests both a great reluctance to engage with Indigenous People and a lack of knowledge of indigenous rights. Mineral exploration in an area inhabited by Indigenous People requires indigenous consent to the project. But this also assumes that the company engages with the affected indigenous community, and this is something Beowulf has not done" says Mattias Pirak, Jåhkågasska tjiellde.

The Saami communities are Indigenous Peoplea and a national ethnic minority protected by the Swedish constitution and international conventions.

The company's mining plans affect the grazing heartlands of the Saami community, without which they cannot continuously pursue their traditional reindeer herding. The Jokkmokk municipality is constituted by a large Saami population with several different Saami communities. Since time immemorial the Saami communities have engaged in reindeer herding in northern Sweden and today reindeer husbandry is one of the most important employers in Jokkmokk.

"The Sami culture within the municipality is alive and vital. Reindeer husbandry and its ancillary industries have helped to create a living landscape, both historically and into the present, as recently confirmed by the established of the World Heritage area of Laponia, instituted with respect for the unique nature and culture that have long existed in the area. Any mining project will not only affect our communities, but also neighbouring ones" says Jakob Nygard, Sirges Saami community.

The mining plans will affect those Saami communities within close proximity to the mine, but also impact upon others given the negative impacts of additional traffic due to transportation of the mined ore. Reindeer herding requires large tracts of land in order to survive and the municipality of Jokkmokk is clearly defined as reindeer grazing area.

For further information contact:-

Jenny Wik Karlsson
SSR - The National Saami Association
Phone +46 90 14 11 8 cellphone + 46 72 202 12 00

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