– When we saw the need to extract more raw material, we wanted to open up a new outlet. In this context, we had representatives from the county inspect the site, who suggested that we lower the river instead,” says Rune Haukalid, general manager of Forsand Sandkompani.

The company saw the sense in extracting raw materials downwards and extracting the rest of the resources, rather than starting a new extraction area. They changed their plans.

– Since the proposal came from the county, we thought it would be a good idea to allow this,” he says with a sigh, before adding:

– that’s how wrong you can be.

Dozens of submissions

Although the landowners and the municipality gave the go-ahead, the application stalled at county level, where the plans had to be approved by both the county council and the county governor. During this process, the case was submitted to dozens of consultation bodies. With so many different viewpoints and interests to be safeguarded, there were objections from some quarters.

Forsand Sandkompani responded to the objections, resolved the challenges and reapplied.

In 2011, they were granted permission to lower the river – slightly, but it was so small that it would not have justified the cost. After a few more rounds, the company submitted an application to the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate.

2 years later came the 14-page rejection.

Thorough preparation led to success

Although the process has been lengthy, he highlights positive experiences along the way, especially the collaboration with both the Nature Conservation Society and the Norwegian Hunting and Fishing Federation.

– They were actually against it, but they realized that it was more than just their own interest that mattered. We contacted them for help and asked both organizations to get involved,” he says.

Together, they did a comprehensive job to ensure that life in the river and all other aspects of the river were preserved, and designed a completely new river course based on this.

Forsand Sandkompani

Creating a new river course

Water from the river is also required for production at Forsand Sandkompani. They would get the most sand and the least work by letting the river run in a straight line. Now it is placed in slings to take care of the fish.

To appeal the rejection, the case had to be submitted to the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy for a hearing. They were the ones who finally cut through and gave permission to sink the ship.

– The decision was based on the fact that we had carried out thorough work that would safeguard all interests related to the river, and that the social benefits of exploiting the resource outweighed the negative consequences. It was very good to have this established and overturned by a higher authority,” he says and adds:

– I’m glad we didn’t give up, but had we known how long this would take, we would have thought twice, twice and three times.

Rune Haukalid General Manager of Forsand Sandkompani at the office

Incorrect mass balance and expensive production

It took 20 years from the idea of mining downwards to the company receiving a positive decision.

Meanwhile, the sand roof steadily expanded its area outwards, taking more and more cultivated land. The landowners had to be compensated while the area was unavailable for agricultural production, and it also caused problems in the production of concrete aggregates.

– The mass balance in the extraction has been poor for long periods. As we constantly expand outwards, we first peel off the coarsest at the top, leaving the finest underneath. To achieve a good mass balance, we prefer to take out the entire living room at the same time.

To get the right curve stock, they bought fine sand from other quarries in the municipality and drove it to Forsand while they extracted the coarse soil at the top. Now that there is largely fine raw material left, they need access to coarser materials to get the right curve.

Sign up for our newsletter:
25 years of knowledge straight to your inbox

Hectic months

Down in the outlet, excavators, dumpers and wheel loaders are working to lower the river course. They only have a few months to move large amounts of sand, as the work in the river itself can only be carried out in July and August for the sake of the fish.

While the work is going on, they also need to ensure that the fish live in a safe zone, so they spend much of the year creating a new river terrace where the water can flow in parallel with the excavation work.

In July, the new stretch opens, the water finds its way into the new pathway and forms a temporary home where the fish can swim safely in the meantime.

Then Forsand Sandkompani has two hectic months where the original stretch of river must be excavated down to the desired level.

Read more:
Is this the construction industry’s most underrated machine?

Detailed work plan

Further down the valley, the river is more developed. There, a small excavator hovers with a focused driver behind the controls. He painstakingly uses the rotor tilt to dig, push and adjust rocks, while puffing on a cigarette every now and then.

He performs the fine work in the detailed work plan. It describes which stone sizes should be laid where.

I’m glad we didn’t give up, but had we known how long this would take, we would have thought twice, twice and three times.

-Rune Haukalid, General Manager

For the sake of the fish, it is out of the question to let the fines swirl in the river, or to let them follow the water to the river mouth. Therefore, he forms bumps where the fines collect. When the basins start to fill up, they are emptied again with an excavator.

Trees that are dug up are replanted as soon as possible, and other vegetation is also planted. Trees hanging over the water create insect life, which in turn becomes food for the fish, while the roots help to bind the riverbank.

Expensive but rewarding work

The cost of the project overall is relatively high, including the application process with external consultants. Despite this, Haukalid believes the process is rewarding.

– “It’s inspiring to know that this work allows us to maximize the resource where we have already opened up the landscape, as there are still large amounts of available sand there,” he says.

Moving mass at Forsand Sandkompani
Much of the year is spent creating a new river terrace so that Forsand Sandkompani can continue to extract sand in accordance with requirements.

– The process itself is both educational and exciting. Working with the Hunting and Fishing Association is particularly rewarding. When the digging is in progress, they are involved in the extraction and make suggestions. They tell us where to place different stones to slow down the river and create a place for the fish to rest. They are forward-thinking and keen to protect life in the river,” he describes.

This work will continue for four, perhaps five years, until the entire stretch of river has been lowered to a level where both Forsand Sandkompani and the fish can live well.

Spreadsheet to lost production