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Peasants, nuns and aristocrats want to stop mineraljägare

At the end of a winding gravel road between Fågeltofta and Brösarp is a catholic benedictine monastery Mariavall. The monastery in the autumn has become the meeting place for a growing resistance movement against the plans to extract the metallic element vanadium in the Österlen region.

– the other Day we had 15-16 people on the training. We really want to be serious, people should not stand and think, or mouth things. Everyone should know what the law says and be able to back up with factual arguments, " says the Mother of Christa, the monastery's abbess.

Her eyes lit by determination, in the dark, sparsely furnished the chat room where she and the rest of the board in protestnätverket Vetonu have been collected. In the summer they received, and a further just over 4,000 landowners in eastern Skåne letter from the mining inspectorate of sweden that the british company Scandivanadium applied to get the look for the vanadium in their land.

the element, is mainly used as an alloying element in the steel industry. But it can also be used in rechargeable flödesbatterier – a type of battery that stores large amounts of electricity, such as in wind farms.

– We believe you can make these batteries in other ways, but to destroy the fine land in which we live on. There is no harmless way to dig for vanadium. We are concerned that it would lead to irreparable changes of The unique values of nature and our groundwater, with a variety of consequences for those who live and work here, " says Anita Ullmann, the initiator Vetonu.


David Minchin is the managing director for Scandivanadium who want to provborra after the vanadium in the Österlen region. Photo: Anders Hansson

In the beginning of 2018 came the welsh geologist David Minchin over a report on the high incidence of vanadium in The alum-shale, a rock that is common in the area.

" I have for several years been obsessed with the idea to create batteries of vanadium. For me it is the answer to the question of how we should tackle the climate change challenges, " he says when we meet at a innerstadskafé in Malmö.

australian colleague Alex Walker, he has in a short time formed the company Scandivanadium and during the autumn, the duo travelled in the Österlen region, with the hope to be able to convince the residents that environmentally-friendly mines are possible.

David Minchin says he has seen how the need for vanadium is growing while fossil fuels will be phased out in favor of renewable energy sources.

today, the majority of the world's vanadium from south Africa, China and Russia.

" Without a secure supply of this type of batterimetaller within the EU, it is not possible to implement a green teknikrevolution, he claims.

Read more: The secret meeting that put the trip for the mining giant

The welsh geologist believe that the deposits can create hundreds of new engineering jobs in the region, it can be the talk of the local batteriproduktion and investors from all over the world. He believes that Scania with vanadinet can be a hub for the future of sustainable technology in Europe.

" I myself grew up in the countryside and know that the people in the Österlen region are married with their land. I understand if they are troubled, but we will only borrow the land. We want to prove that mining can be implemented in an ecologically sustainable way that does not leave any traces behind, " he says.

about a green revolution in southern Sweden has so far faltered in large parts of the society. Over 350 appeals to the administrative court, in particular, from the landowners, but also from the member municipalities of Simrishamn and Tomelilla. A few days before christmas, it became clear that all parties in the Region Skåne regional board go together and require a change in the law that allows landowners to have the right to say no to mining.

" We want to mining is not automatically to be seen as a general interest. You have to see how the environment is affected. I mean that mining would have a negative impact on everything from agriculture and food production to tourism, " says Birte Sandberg, chair of the regional assembly for the Centre party.


Eva Andersson and Åsa Mårtensson at Sandra Lindström's kitchen table discussing the resistance to the provborrningarna on their land in the Österlen region. Photo: Anders Hansson

This is not the first time someone tries to drill for profitable deposits in the scanian bedrock.

the landowner to Christinehof castle and Högestad goods, is an involuntary veteran of the substance.

in Total, on five occasions through the years, for my part. Most recently, it was Shell who were looking for shale gas. When you are not found enough there were many who cheered. But I have already said, then, that within ten years it would not surprise me if there is a new guy with the excavator and says, ”now, we'll look for something”.

Carl Piper, sitting in the chat room on the Mariavalls monastery. He and the others in the local protest movement don't give much for Scandivanadiums promises of eco-friendly mines.

– It is strange that you do not learn. We are a district that historically has had the mining of alum-shale. Alunskiffret contains a terrible amount of heavy metals. The slag heaps left left behind has been proven to contain dangerous substances that leaked into the water for a long time.


Scandivanadium has a total granted exploration permits for the eleven areas on a total of 22 000 hectares. The next step is to find appropriate sites for exploration drilling. The british company has found ten such places. One of them is Sandra Lindström's farm Spjutstorp 110, a few kilometres outside Tomelilla. She and her husband Oskar operates small scale production of pasture-raised and is the sixth generation in the family that seems on the farm.

had the cold anticipated that their children would become the seventh. Now they don't know anymore. Will they be able to stay here, they will be redeemed? Is it possible even to sell the farm if they would like?

" This is our livelihood, we are dependent on water and our areas on which to grow crops. We are no geologists, we are farmers – we do not know how the risks look like. There is so much we have not received an answer, " she says.

When Sandra Lindström looking out through the kitchen window she can see the place in the beteshagen which the company shall provborra in the winter.

– First, they wanted to drill out in the höstrapsen. But we wanted to absolutely not, there is no good place.

falling Under the minerals act, anyone can apply for permission to open the mine on leased land. At the drilling must speculator first agree on a work plan with the landowner. If the parties cannot agree, determined the work plan of the bergmästaren, a senior director at the authority, the mining inspectorate of sweden.

Sandra Lindstrom with his son Leo off the farm in Österlen. Photo: Anders Hansson

Sandra Lindström has become a spokesperson for the six's farm families whose land Scandivanadium want to provborra in.

– We are united in the resistance and have made a joint opinion in which we are opposed to all undersökningsarbeten, including exploration drilling, and ultimately to the open pit, " she says.

According to David Minchin is concerned about the land owners unnecessarily. He believes that vanadinet is located in the superficial layers of alunskiffret and that, therefore, it can be released in a both simple and environmentally friendly way.

– To wash out the metals from the rock and adds them back gradually. Over 99% of the masses will be restored to agricultural land, " he says.

not for the affected farmers and also from Minchins own profession will critique. Barbara Wohlfarth is professor in quaternary geology at Stockholm university, has on behalf of the Vetonu, produced a statement about the risk of pollution to groundwater during drilling. According to her, should alum-shale to be a ”no go zone” for mining.

" It is completely naive to think that you can just wash it out vanadinet. The required complexity of the chemical processes and the alum-shale is located in the sheets that in places can be up to ten metres. Put it back slaggavfallet containing the uranium, and other substances that are not mine.

According to Barbara Wohlfarth starting alum-shale crumble if it is exposed in an open pit mine which can lead to toxic substances from leaking out.

– In the open pits and mine waste exposed to rainfall becomes leachate, highly contaminated, and thus also the local surface water and groundwater. It leads to highly undesirable consequences for the different values of nature and the part of the locals who are dependent on this water, not least to agriculture.

Lindstrom feel worried about the future, but is also cursed.

" We have for a long time built up a mullhalt, a soil structure. It's not something you just recover. These are investments and life for us. It is so unfair that you have worked like an animal to get this to work and so will someone from the other side of the earth and say, ”now we are going to dig this”.

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