Metallurgical Corporation of China (MCC), citing unacceptable levels of environmental damage. MCC operates the Ramu nickel-cobalt mine in Papua New Guinea, which dumps millions of tonnes of toxic mine waste into the ocean each year.
Storebrand joins several other financial institutions taking measures to prevent disposing of tailings in the ocean. Citigroup and Standard Chartered both issued new policies that restrict financing submarine mine waste disposal in response to the Ditch Ocean Dumping campaign. The Ditch Ocean Dumping campaign, which has support from 40 groups in 17 countries, is calling on financial institutions to divest from any project or company that employs aqueous tailings disposal.
“Dumping of mining tailings directly into marine environments is a controversial practice internationally. Marine ecosystems are crucial to a healthy planet and must be protected,” said Bård Bringedal, Chief Investment Officer of Equities at Storebrand Asset Management.
Mining companies dump 220 million tonnes of mine waste directly into our oceans, rivers and lakes every year: more waste than the United States puts into its landfills. While it has been phased out in many parts of the world, proposals in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Norway, including the Nussir and Nordic Mining mines, would employ the outdated practice.
“By taking concrete measures to address aqueous mine waste dumping, Storebrand, Citi and Standard Chartered are joining a growing movement of governments, companies, mine-impacted communities, and civil society organizations shining a spotlight on the harmful practice,” said Ellen Moore of Earthworks, which is coordinating the campaign.
While Storebrand does not have ties to Nussir and Nordic Mining, conservation groups pointed out that Norway has its own issues with ocean mine waste dumping.
“Storebrand’s decision is good news for communities in Papua New Guinea,” said Silje Ask Lundberg, president of Friends of the Earth Norway. “By divesting from MCC, Storebrand makes a clear stand that they do not tolerate mining practices that are harmful to the environment and Indigenous peoples. We encourage investors in the Nussir and Nordic Mining mines in Norway to follow their lead.”
Mine waste dumping into natural water bodies is prohibited by many international institutions and processes. At the 2016 conference of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, 51 of the 53 participating countries voted in favor of an international ban on ocean mine waste dumping and to develop a plan to stop ongoing dumping due to the irreparable destruction and degradation of marine environments.