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Hindu religious leader supports Sweden's Sami reindeer herders in their fight against a mining company
US based noted Hindu religious leader has expressed support for Sami reindeer herders in northern Sweden who are fighting against an British iron ore mining company for their rights.
Distinguished Hindu statesman Rajan Zed has urged Swedish authorities not to approve British company Beowulf Mining's application for a 25-year mining concession, known as Kallak project. Sweden should not base its decision on mercantile greed only and put people first instead of profit first, Zed added in a statement in Nevada (USA) today.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, argued that proposed mine and its infrastructure on this ancient land could endanger the livelihood of Sami community; affecting reindeer grazing, migration and herding; and thus destroying Sami culture and their unique way of life.

The Hindu religious leader stressed that Swedish authorities should show more responsibility to its Sami community by protecting their traditional rights and not bowing to powerful mining lobby, properly follow Swedish law and international conventions, and consult the area Sami communities before making any final decision. He urged intervention of Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt.

Zed further said that mining in this area; dominated by nature reserves, national parks, spruce woods, sparkling lakes and stunning mountain environment; reportedly would have negative implications on wilderness, could lead to the contamination of a river next to the proposed mine site and could adversely affect the environment. Moreover, mine sat on a popular spring grazing ground for the reindeer.

He suggested Beowulf to abandon its Kallak project; thus ensuring the survival of unique culture of Sami, Europe's only indigenous people, who faced uncertain future.

Zed pointed out that world needed to save the culture of the Sami (who had lived in the area for over 5,000 years, predating the founding of Sweden), which generations of Sami community had tried to preserve, nourishing a harmony with nature philosophy.

He also appealed to the United Nations to intervene to protect Sami rights and help preserving their spiritual and cultural identity. Mine could also be threat to nearby Laponia World Heritage Site of UNESCO, known for its outstanding natural beauty and cultural importance for the Sami. Exploitation and encroachment of areas, where Sami communities functioned and lived; and damage to Sami grazing lands needed to stop, Zed added.

Beowulf Mining, headquartered in Cambridgeshire (England) with Clive Sinclair-Poulton as Executive Chairman, currently holds 18 exploration permits in Northern Sweden. It is reportedly expecting to extract up to 10m tonnes of iron ore annually at Kallak, generating around $2.9 billion in revenue. Sweden reportedly produces over 90% of the iron ore in Europe and its mining exports yearly are worth $23.4bn.

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