Samis sour over time lost to Kiruna move

Two Sami villages in northern Sweden have been denied compensation from the state-owned mining company LKAB for the time village representatives spent on planning for the relocation of Kiruna.

The reindeer herding villages of Gaban and Leavas first turned to the government for money to make up for time spent tending to the relocation of nearby Kiruna instead of tending to their reindeer.

After the government refused the request, they then turned to the LKAB mining company for 500,000 kronor ($82,000) to cover income lost due to the consultation process.

LKAB is funding the relocation of Kiruna’s city centre so the company can continue operating a lucrative mine which has created underground cracks that threaten to sink the city in the coming years.

“We take seriously the fact that the state-owned company which is saddling a third-party with additional costs but won’t take responsibility for those costs. If it hadn’t been for LKAB’s expansion plans, we wouldn’t have had participate in all those extra meetings,” said Anders Blom, who represents the villages in the ‘National Association of Swedish Sami’ (Svenska Samernas Riksförbund), to Sveriges Radio.

Göran Olovsson, a mining rights specialist at LKAB in Kiruna feels strongly that the Sami villages did a thorough job planning for the city’s move, but doesn’t see any money forthcoming to make up for any lost working time.

“Instead we will try to minimize any infringement on them,” he said.

Olovsson added that the consultations in which the village representatives participated were voluntary and that no requirement existed to respond to the legislative referrals.

“But if people don’t participate in the consultative process we can’t take their interests into account in order to minimize any infringement,” he said.