Q. Norway now has a world-class mineral resource confirmed at Øygrei. As the Mayor of Eigersund, what does this potentially mean for the local community and economy?
Mayor of Eigersund: The mineral resource at Øygrei has been well known for quite some time. But, understanding now that the mineral levels are this high and of such great importance, is big news for the region and the nation. The value of the minerals is yet to be determined, and the ongoing investigations are quite intriguing. Such a large and lengthy ongoing operation will probably cause ripple effects. If this results in mineral extraction at Øygrei, this will be of great significance for both the municipality and the region. Financially, these ripple effects will be experienced in terms of both income and jobs.
Q. As Norway seeks to diversify away from oil and gas, does this offer a viable and exciting alternative industry?
Mayor of Eigersund: Norway holds unique expertise, both in corporations and in workers within the oil and gas industry. This expertise can be used in new industries to seize new opportunities. All major industrial establishments may compensate for lower activity within oil and gas in the coming decades. Mineral extraction may be a large, new industry in Norway, and I hope this will be built on the expertise already present in the region to secure sustainable and environmentally-friendly mineral extraction.
Q. How does Norway feel as the owner of EU Critical Raw Materials, that Europe and the wider world so desperately need?
Mayor of Eigersund: Norway has many mineral reserves, but very few mines. This is probably due to the fact that oil and gas has totally dominated the Norwegian industry since the 1970s. Now the oil and gas industry is reducing its activity, the focus has once again shifted to the mineral resources. Even if the attention has increased, I find that very few really understand what it means. A lot of information is required on all levels – from the people who live in the area, to those who govern Norway. But if there is one country that can give the world and EU sustainable extraction of critical minerals, that country is Norway. There is a great possibility that the critical minerals will be found here, and at the same time, we have a huge responsibility to extract the minerals in a sustainable way. Both financially and environmentally.
Q. What do you feel about Norge Mining’s approach to investigating vanadium, phosphate and titanium so far?
I have had an ongoing dialogue and a close cooperation with Norge Mining since the day they started their research in the area. This has been important to get information early, but also to work together on the process to be able to inform people and the authorities about everything that is going on. Landowners in the area report that they are well taken care of. Norge Mining comes across in a professional and open way to me as Mayor, but also to people in the area. That means a great deal.
Q. What is your message to the Eigersund community regarding the confirmation of the significant mineral resources at Øygrei and Bjerkreim?
Mayor of Eigersund: My main message is that this is a huge opportunity for the region. It can create new jobs and values that the community will benefit from for decades. But, mining in Norway in 2021 must be sustainable for the environment, and also create a good place to work for those employed there. A possible future mining operation must benefit the local community in the region. There is an underlying expectation of it.
Q. With all this in mind, what do you think the future holds for your municipality, and for the country as a whole?
Mayor of Eigersund: The mineral resources are unquestionably of great importance. It means that in the future there can be an industry involving this natural resource. When this happens, will depend primarily on the industrial agencies and national authorities. I hope that we who live in the region will receive helpful and updated information, and that a possible mining operation will be planned in collaboration with us and the local authorities. I will certainly do my very best to make the processes and the decisions good and predictable. I will definitely focus on the environment and the fact that a new industry in the region will have to give something back to the local community. I look forward to seeing how this turns out.