This morning representatives of several Indigenous Saami communities from Scandinavia protested outside the ‘Mines and Money’ London conference in order to raise awareness over the destruction of their traditional lands by mining.
Saami areas in Sweden are currently experiencing an explosion in mining developments by both Scandinavian and foreign companies. Ironically, while these companies commonly market themselves to investors based on principles of Corporate Social Responsibility, many of them risk breaching human rights conventions, because they all too often fail to see the connection between the impacts of their activities and Saami rights.
The Saami Council, the National Swedish Saami Association, and individual Saami communities are in dialogue with several mining companies and their investors, including Scandinavian Resources and Beowulf Mining, to name just two. “These companies claim to respect the rights of Indigenous peoples, yet they seem to have no problem with performing intrusive exploration and mining activities in sensitive Saami reindeer herding areas”, says Mattias Åhrén, Head of Human Rights, at the Saami Council.
Many Saami communities are at a crisis point. “Reindeer herding, and our Saami culture, simply cannot tolerate any more industrial activities. We have very little lands left and the last of them are being taken by private mining companies”, says Mats Berg, on behalf of the Saami delegation to London, representing the Saami communities of Girjas, Laevas, Sirges and Lainiovuoma.
Saami organisations are also critical of Sweden’s failure to protect Saami rights.  “Sweden’s mining legislation does not provide any protection of Saami rights and the Swedish government has been critiqued numerous times by the UN for its failure to take action”, says Jörgen Jonsson, Chairman of the National Swedish Saami Association.
See Saami media release at