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SCARS AND MASSES THE MULTILAYERED LANDSCAPE

Ingrid Aas


SCARS AND MASSES Ingrid Aas Our world’s growing appetite and dependency on metals and minerals has led to an expanding hunt for new resources. Continuously venturing into new and unexplored territories, the industry now has its eyes on the circumpolar areas of Norway. Promising survey results and prospects of combining local energy sources in the northern territories and the emerging trade routes makes an increasingly attractive landscape for extracting resources. In 2012 the Norwegian government will present its own mineral report, and it is expected to draw up an offensive strategy for mineral extraction in the arctic areas of Norway. But mining does not only denote big profits; its industry also entails large scale impacts on landscape, nature and society. What do we really know about these forces? Our focus on the oil industry, mining companies, governmental interests and our more tightened relationship with an unstable global economy is today highly discussed. But have we reflected on the consequences and impact of contemporary and future mining? Should not this be the main focus for debate? Mining cities can be seen as models for building communities. In this sence digging and turning the ground can be seen as a positive effect. The mining activity used to be the start for developing communities. Røros is an example of a town that grew and established itself because of the resourses that was found in the area. The mining activity became the livelihoods for the community building. From adding growth and positive effect, the masses later on contributed to a situation where the city collapsed as a dominonoeffect. The masses had set its scar. It is frightening to witness the consequenses that Kiruna now is an example of. Turning the ground under the surface has set its mark on the landscape. As a chainreaction the landscape has now reacted to the deformation of the masses, the ground has become unstable and there will be dramatic consequenses if no one takes action.

The ground is no longer stabil and the city of Kiruna has become a part of a moving landscape. Because of this new humanmade landscape the whole city of Kiruna must be moved. The geologists on the other hand, have another perspective on duration of the landscape. They see the ground as layers of masses creating a landscape over time. According to the geologists time perspective and how quickly the mining companies have turned the masses around, the Kiruna example shows clearly how these forces can have a huge impact on the landscape. The vounerable landscapes in North have severe waste issues that must be addressed during and after the actual mining operation. Open-pit mining involves extraction of large quantities of waste rock in order to extract the desired mineral ore. The scar in the landscape itself is huge, but after handling the waste rock the wound gets even bigger. Low prices for these large quantities of waste materials means that it is not profitable to transport it more than three miles before the traveling costs get higher than the aggregate and gravel itself. This is a challenge that we have to solve. Today the discussion goes on wether we should put the waste on land or in the sea, but the negative consequenses are still an issue. Dumping the waste material at land causes problems for vegetation and animal life, for example reindeer herding. Reindeers need big pastures which in several cases collide with the mining activity. These conflict areas cause problems because of the human deformation of masses. We do not know how big consequences the dust and toxic problems connected to the activity will cause. In the same way we do not know the effect of the environmental issues for the biosphere in the sea. The fishing industry, which is an important resource and a big part of the identity in the Northern Norway, could be influenced and threatened. We have to think in new directions.


The interplay of nature is fragile and carefully matched. Changes in the ecosystem will affect the interraction and the system gets out of balance. Through time the mining activity have left its scars in the environment. Is the big hunt for new resources more important than taking care of the fragile landscape and its activities that has existed for millions of years? The scars in the landscape after periods of mining are still visible. Once the reserves have been extracted the mining site is traditionally abandoned as it is, leaving non-transportable mining infrastructure and settlements behind. Is it possible to heal this fractured, polluted and scared landscape? In my opinion this should be the main issue of this discussion. Who will reclaim this landscape and fit it in to its natural biosphere? Today the mining industry does not set aside money for cleaning up the landscape after the mining prosess. It is essential to secure a reclamation fund for these areas. To set up a deal with the mining company might be the only way to raise money to increase the natural quality of the area. In addition to an economic fund the reclaimation plans should also contain strategies that shows how these landscapes could function as a natural landscape again. The up tempo revolution of mining, with its scars and deformation of masses, have turned the landscapes of the North of Norway up side down. Eventhough the big profits are tempting to get a hand on, I think it is nessesary to show humility when we enter these uncharged territories. We do not know the consequenses and we are lacking research on how the mining activity will have an impact on landscape, nature and society. I am sure we are facing a landscape in change, but we should have the time to consider what forces are in play and how we can prepare tomorrows landscapes to be developed sustainable.


Scars and masses  

Scares and masses in the landscape

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