Ingvil Smines Tybring-Gjedde is now a Non-Executive Director at Norge Mining. She’s also been a professional climber who once trained the Norwegian military, a Special Adviser at Innovation Norway, a former Minister of Public Security and the Deputy Minister of the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum. To say she brings a wealth of valuable experience to the table is an understatement. Here, we find out a little more about Ingvil – her past political career, her natural resources experience and her vision of Norway’s future.
Q. A lot of your career focus has been on protecting the environment – whether it’s making Norway’s oil and gas industry greener, or seeking investment for EV battery technology. Why so?
Ingvil: Actually, this is a large part of why Norge Mining ignited my interest. I’ve been working – in some way or another – in renewables for more than 20 years. Norge Mining’s values and commitment to sourcing EU Critical Raw Materials in a way that impacts the environment as little as possible struck a chord with me. I started out as a professional climber when I was young, training the Norwegian military. There was a devastating avalanche disaster in Norway in 1986 while soldiers were on a NATO ski patrol exercise. Two of the people who died were my friends. Ever since then, I’ve learnt to respect nature more – to protect it and treat it well.
Q. You’ve held many roles relating to Norway’s oil and gas sector over the years. How has this industry created foundations for a new era of mining?
Ingvil: I used to hate the oil and gas industry when I was younger and what it stood for. But with time, and experience, I realised that contrary to my beliefs, Norway was doing everything it could to save its oceans and the air we breathe. In fact, my country is a world-leader in solutions to reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions. Over the years, we’ve had to combine the interests of our fisheries, maritime and oil and gas industries. To do this we’ve had to push the boundaries of innovation and technology. I see our vast experience in natural resources and the regulatory framework we already have – with the environment always at the forefront – as a fantastic foundation on which to build a new mining industry; one that will provide EU Critical Raw Materials to the world.
Q. In fact, this is not the first time you’ve been involved directly in the mining industry?
Ingvil: That’s true. I worked on regulatory framework for offshore sub-sea mining. I was also a minister for Svalbard – an archipelago in the Arctic Ocean – and there were coal mines there. I was an integral part of their closure, when we decided to lock them down. What was interesting was seeing how we can put nature back again, to recreate how it once was. Norge Mining has a huge preoccupation with environmental issues. And that’s a really good thing. Yes, it’s inevitable there will be holes drilled in the ground. It’s a necessary evil. But we can’t have things like EV batteries and eco-friendly fertilisers without getting them from the earth. You can’t say yes to Electric Vehicles and no to mining. Norge Mining will, however, do this in the kindest way to nature – using cutting edge technology and running on renewable energy wherever possible.
Q. Norwegians seem to be extremely innovative people. Why do you think that is?
Ingvil: God must love Norway. We have a lot of oil and gas, wind, rain and tall mountains – that help power production. Us Norwegians, we may seem quite blunt. We say things as they are. It’s in our genes. We are a hardy people. It’s cold here! We were under Swedish and Danish rule for a long time. And now, we are proud and we want to do things our own way. That means we dare to challenge the status quo. Hierarchy here is not about being subservient; quite the opposite. It’s quite flat. We are constantly questioning our bosses on the best approach and tirelessly working to achieve the optimal outcomes. This desire to challenge breeds an highly innovative environment, I think.
Q. You have had a very varied political career. How will that help Norge Mining navigate the next few years, following the confirmation of its world-class resource of EU Critical Raw Materials at Øygrei?
Ingvil: It’s funny, I never wanted to be a politician. But I’m pleased to say I’ve had successful tenures with little controversy and few adversaries. My extensive experience in the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, the Ministry of Public Security and at Innovation Norway – that stimulates both entrepreneurship and investment – means I will be able to help guide Norge Mining on a national and local political level. I understand how the politicians here think and act – including the opposition – how the processes unfold, how hurdles are tackled, and importantly, I have strong relations with environmentalists. This insider knowledge will contribute to Norge Mining’s understanding of our idiosyncratic ways of doing business.
Q. Norway is a hugely progressive society. But is being a woman in the types of industries we are talking about still an anomaly?
Ingvil: When I used to travel the world – roughly 200 days a year – talking to other countries about oil and gas, I would always start my speech with: ‘Ladies, gentlemen, gentlemen, and gentlemen’. It didn’t matter whether I was in Saudi or Norway. I think this is an area that still needs work. But I regard being a woman in a male dominated industry a huge benefit. I am remembered and so is my work. I view being a woman a competence that I have. More importantly, I feel like being part of Norge Mining’s ventures here in Norway is part of making history. In the future, I believe Norwegians will thank Norge Mining for having the guts to believe and invest in transforming this nascent industry into a lucrative reality for the country.