Nussir ASA is considering listing its shares in Oslo this year after signing a deal with local officials to build the world’s first fully electric copper mine in the Arctic, its chief executive told Reuters.
The project, located in Norway’s northern Kvalsund area, has faced opposition from indigenous Sami herders and fishermen who say the mine could damage summer reindeer pastures and destroy spawning grounds for coastal cod.
But in a statement on Thursday, Nussir said the mine had signed a cooperation agreement with the local Hammerfest municipality.
“We have been successful in reaching very strong support from the local community,” Chief Executive Øystein Rushfeldt said.
As part of the deal with the municipality, Nussir committed to use local suppliers and provide jobs, thereby helping to remedy local population decline and boost the economy.
Approved in February 2019, the project has been viewed as a litmus test for the Arctic, where climate change and technology are enabling mineral and energy extraction, shipping and tourism, but threatening traditional ways of life.
Tailings from the mine, which has a 10-year supply agreement with Germany’s Aurubis, will be deposited at the bottom of the fjord using pipelines and will not disturb any marine life, Rushfeldt said.
While many locals support Nussir’s project, others remain opposed. “Dropping the tailings of the mine in the fjord is complete madness,” fisherman Tommy Pettersen told Reuters. “This a spawning ground for cod.”
Reindeer herders, who use the area for summer pastures, are preparing legal action to stop production. “We are still opposed to this mine,” reindeer herder Nils Mathis Sara told Reuters.
Rushfeldt said a final decision on whether to float its shares will be made in the coming months.
“It’s something that could happen this year once decided,” he said of the listing.
He said high copper prices had helped to drive interest in IPOs, particularly on the Norwegian Euronext Growth exchange, which aims to promote growth among smaller companies.
Cyprus-based Seabird Exploration listed its deep-sea mining arm Green Minerals on Tuesday on the exchange.
The Nussir project hosts 80 million tonnes of copper and is carrying out an electrification study to avoid the use of diesel on site, which accounts for many of the emission from mines.
(By Zandi Shabalala and Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle and Barbara Lewis)