Media Release by Saami Council and Minerals Policy Institute
Wednesday 21 Nov 2012
United Nations Human Rights Complaints for Hannans
Today, in Perth at the AGM of the Australian based exploration company Hannans Reward Ltd, investors were notified by the Saami Council and affected Saami communities that complaints to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination had been prepared and would be officially lodged with the UN if the company goes ahead with its open-pit mining plans in Northern Sweden, home of the Indigenous Saami people. Through their subsidiary Kiruna Iron, Hannans is in the process of developing several open-pit mines in crucial Saami reindeer grazing pastures, which would violate fundamental human rights of Saami reindeer herders of the Girjas and Laevas Saami communities.
“At last year’s AGM, we warned investors and financial institutions involved with these mining projects of the human rights risks. We have given the company ample opportunity to withdraw their plans, yet they continue to deceive investors by pouring money into projects that are doomed to fail because of the enourmous environmental and social risks associated with them” – Says Mattias Åhrén, Chief Lawyer at Saami Council.
Saami communities have previously been successful in halting developments in Saami areas by lodging complaints with the UN, as was demonstrated in 2005 when the UN intervened and ordered logging to cease in Northern Finland because of the damage it was causing to reindeer grazing pastures. Stora Enso – the company involved – suffered significant reputational damage and lost both customers and investors as a result. The company had all the required national permits, but this was not enough, as the operations were deemed to breach the human rights of the local Saami people.
“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 are working with other stakeholders in our region who are of the same opinion and have grave concerns over the environmental damage mining will entail for our sensitive arctic environment” says Niila Inga, reindeer herding member of the affected Laevas Saami community.
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, Girjas Saami Community +46 70 397 6977
Niila Inga, Media Contact, Laevas Saami Community +46 70 546 91 19
See the website www.saamiresources.org for more information.
Statement from Saami Communities at Hannans Reward Annual General Meeting, Perth, Australia, 21stNovember 2012
Minerals Policy Institute is authorised, on behalf of the Saami Council and the local Saami reindeer herding communities of Girjas and Laevas, to represent them at Hannans Reward AGM in Perth Australia on November 21st, 2012, and read out the following statement:
Hannans Reward, 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. The integrity and ecologically sustainable use of these lands is critical to the migration of reindeer and the practice of reindeer husbandry. 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 livelihood and the key component of the communities’ and their members’ cultural and spiritual identity. It has been practiced by Saami people in the Arctic since time immemorial, but reindeer herding is currently under enormous pressure from extractive industrial activities in Saami areas.
Given the devastating impacts Hannans Reward’s proposed mining activities would have on Girjas and Laevas respectively, the communities will never consent to the projects. Rather, they will do everything possible to protect their lands and livelihoods. In line with this commitment, and their obligations to future generations, the communities have – with the assistance of the Saami Council – prepared complaints to the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which will be officially lodged with the UN if the company goes ahead with its open-pit mining plans in Northern Sweden.
Copies of the complaints to the United Nations have been sent to Kiruna Iron, Hannans Rewards, the Swedish government and major investors in Hannans Rewards.
Given the success of previous Saami complaints to the UN – for example, in 2005, the UN ordered logging operations in Saami territories in Finland to cease because they breached the fundamental human rights of the affected Saami communities –how does Hannans Reward view the risks the planned UN complaints poses to its business?
The jurisprudence emanating out of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, as outlined in Girjas’ and Laevas’ complaint to the Committee, clearly establishes that the right to property requires that indigenous communities consent to mining activities that considerably negatively impact on their traditional land. Against this background, and since Girjas and Laevas have declared that they will never consent to Kiruna Iron’s mining activities, why is Hannans Reward persisting with this project and risking shareholders funds, when the project has been rejected by the Girjas’ and Laevas’ communities?