Karelian Diamond Resources – KDR, an Irish mining company that was granted potentially illegal permission to start exploring for diamonds in Utsjoki, Finland is pulling out.
Media reports emerging from Ireland confirm the company has begun the process of withdrawing its mining claim in the area. The Irish Independent reports that KDR’s decision is a direct result of local protests that development of the Utsjoki area would have a negative effect on the homeland of the Sami people and a protected nature reserve in the area.
KDR had wanted to explore and potentially develop diamond mining inside the strict Kevo Nature Reserve, which is also a crucial Sámi Indigenous cultural area. Against international law, the Finnish mining authority, TUKES, provided the necessary licenses to the company last year.
In response to the threat from KDR, local Sámi organisations and other stakeholders formed the Anti-Mining Coalition of Deatnu Valley to resist plans to mine in the area. The coalition has been building pressure on local and national authorities and recently sent a letter to several senior Finnish officials, including the Finnish Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, asking for the activities of Karelian Diamonds to be stopped.
In their efforts the coalition were assisted by Snowchange Cooperative in their communiques with the company and raising international awareness. Snowchange was able to raise the concerns of the coalition and their demands during a high-level panel at the recent World Parks Congress, held in Sydney, Australia, November 2014.
As a result of the coalition’s commitment and tenacity,this week KDR announced it is withdrawing its claim in the area and will focus on other potential developments further south.
“We had a claim reservation in the area [but] we are now in the process of withdrawing it. We are not sure how long it will take and it could take quite a while but once you press the button then that’s it” said KDR CEO Richard Conroy.
A spokesman for the Anti-Mining Coalition of the Deatnu Valley commented: “Of course we are very happy that they have withdrawn their claims, now the message that we want to get out is that no other company should look to do that again [explore for resources in the area].”
KDR’s decision is an important victory for all parties involved in resisting mining in Utsjoki. It is a crucial precedent in terms of deterring future claims in the area.