- Sep 21, 2012
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Mining companies are flocking to northern Finland as new deposits of gold, nickel and other minerals promise vast profits. But the area's fragile wetland ecosystem is paying the price. Conservationists are so far fighting a losing battle.
Riikka Karppinen used to catch pike as long as her arm here. She and her brother would spend days exploring the marshy wilderness. It was eight years ago, when Riikka was just 10 years old, that she saw the first red sticks stuck into the ground. To begin with, there were only a few but before long there were hundreds. "No one cared much back then," Riikka Karppinen recalls.
In the mean time, though, the red markers have given way to the machines. "You can hear the noise of the drills day and night," says Karppinen. Anglo American (AA), one of the world's biggest mining companies, went treasure hunting in Finnish Lapland, 120 kilometers north of the Polar Circle. And deep below the marshlands of Viiankiaapa are nickel deposits that AA has hailed as the find of the century.
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