GENEVA (AP) — Two independent U.N. human rights experts called Thursday on Sweden’s government not to issue a license to industrial backers of a planned iron-ore mine that environmentalists say would generate large amounts of toxic waste and other pollution.
The proposed project would involve British company Beowulf Mining and their Swedish subsidiary Jokkmokk Iron Mines AB. Teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg, who is Swedish, joined a protest against the planned mine over the weekend.
The experts say plans for the mine in the Gallok region have gone forward without obtaining the “free, prior and informed consent” of the indigenous Sami people, whose lives and livelihoods could face risks from the project. They said migration of reindeer, who are herded by the Sami, could be endangered.
“There has been insufficient assessment and recognition of the environmental damage the mine will cause,” they said in a statement, pointing to a Swedish law passed on Jan. 27 – but not yet in force — that will require authorities to consult with the Sami before taking actions that could affect them.
Thursday’s call came from José Francisco Cali Tzay, a special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, and David Boyd, special rapporteur on human rights and the environment. Special rapporteurs work on a voluntary basis under a mandate from the U.N.-backed Human Rights Council, and do not represent the United Nations.
The Sami people are the indigenous people of Sampi, the region historically known as Lapland, and their lifestyle in under threat by the mining and forestry industry that encroach on grazing land.