Greenland – The next mining destination

Greenland could become the next global mining frontier, as global warming uncovers precious metals from glacial surroundings, states new research by natural resources experts GlobalData, a UK-based global business intelligence provider.

The new research* states that substantial reserves of gold, diamond, zinc, platinum, nickel, iron, and Rare Earth Elements (REE) like niobium and tantalum are now within reach of geological land mapping technologies, as receding ice sheets reveal the extent of the country’s bounty.

The government of Greenland is making efforts to establish a strong mining industry in order to decrease the country’s economic reliance on the fishing industry and grants from the Danish government. Greenland offers a stable political environment and legal framework, which are investor-friendly, and mining is fully regulated under the Mineral Resources Act, while the Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum (BMP) presides over activity in the extractive industries.

Australia and Canada have so far been major participants in the island’s mining landscape, and Chinese president Hu Jintao’s visit to Denmark in June 2012 also indicates a level of Chinese interest. Mining companies based within developed countries have the technological expertise and financial muscle to operate large-scale exploration projects and Greenland could prove to be the next hotspot for this activity. However, companies wishing to commence mining must seek to limit the pollution caused, and plan for the disposal of pollutants.

According to Statistics Greenland, the number of exploration licenses granted has seen a marked increase from 33 in 2005 to 75 in 2011, and the number of individuals employed in the extraction of raw materials industry has grown from 117 in 2007 to 263 in 2010. The development of a skilled workforce and supporting educational and training infrastructure in Greenland must soon be considered, as labor supply will become a restraining factor once more mining projects come online. Such initiatives would help to develop the Greenlandic economy by increasing employment and the standard of life of its citizens.

The mining industry is currently in very early stages of development, and there is a strong need to create a framework which encompasses policies for all aspects of the mining industry. Strict mining laws and environmental standards are essential to ensure that Greenland’s geography is not compromised in the wake of economic gains.