Greenland is expected to go from having no active mines to
operating between three and five producing deposits by 2018,
delegates at the Mines and Money 2015 conference in London
heard in December.
"Despite having similar geology to Scandinavia, where there
are over 90 operational mines, there are no active mines in
Greenland," Julie Hollis, head of the geology department at
Greenland’s Ministry of Mineral Resources, told
The North Atlantic Danish territory offers a number of
industrial mineral development opportunities, including rare
earths, barite (barytes), graphite, olivine and antimony, with
a handful of mines in these sectors slated to come online in
the next few years.
Canada’s Hudson Resources Inc. owns the Naajat
or White Mountain anorthosite mine, which aims to supply
calcium feldspar to the fibreglass industry as an alternative
to kaolin and potentially as a substitute for bauxite in the
production of alumina. Naajat has a predicted mine life of more
than 100 years at an output rate of 200,000 tpa.
In rare earths, Tanbreez Mining Greenland AS is developing a
deposit with an inferred resource of 4.7bn tonnes at average
grades of around 1.8% zirconium oxide, 0.2% niobium oxide, 0.5%
light rare earths, 0.15% heavy rare earths and 0.01% tantalum
On the other half of the same development, Greenland
Minerals and Energy Ltd holds a 1.01bn tonne mineral resource
with 0.37% heavy rare earths and 0.87% yttrium oxide.
Hollis expects both of these sites to proceed to
construction over the next 12 months.
Other prospective industrial minerals sites in Greenland
include a barite deposit, which Henrik Stendal, chief geologist
at the Greenland Ministry of Mineral Resources, told
IM was at one point being explored with a view
to providing drilling grade material for North Sea oil wells,
but ultimately lost out to competition in Scotland.
An olivine mine was active in the country between 2004 and
2009, Stendal added, operated by Swedish mining company
Minelco, which has since rebranded as LKAB Minerals Group. This
mine was forced to close due to high transport costs, Stendal
A number of graphite deposits are also under exploration in
the country. Denmark’s 21st North is
investigating sites at Eqalussit-Akulianiseq in eastern
Greenland and has recently started exploring the Kangikajik,
also in the east of the country.
UK-based Alba Mineral Resources Plc, meanwhile, has secured
an option to acquire the Amitsoq graphite project in western
According to Michael Nott, Alba’s CEO, the
Amitsoq deposit has a non-compliant mineral resource of around
300,000 tonnes graphite. "There is also nickel, gold and
platinum group elements in there," he told
Nott said that even though graphite prices are depressed at
present, he was confident of the longevity of the graphite
sector and had taken the opportunity to secure a potential
foothold in the Greenland project.
He explained that Alba, which also has a stake in the Horse
Hill oil project in the UK, is looking to diversify its
resource portfolio. "We want to try and spread ourselves
(…) If you are only in one commodity, you can find
yourself in a dead space when the market goes down," he
While there are no roads between settlements and towns in
Greenland, Hollis noted that large parts of its coastline are
accessible year round, unimpeded by ice, allowing for efficient
transport of materials.
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of
Denmark with a population of just 57,000. It became
self-governing in 2010 and has since made a concerted effort to
use its geology to its economic advantage.
Land use and costs hold Scandinavia
While Greenland is being touted as a future mining
destination, some exploration businesses are struggling to get
projects off the ground in Scandinavia.
Speaking at IM’s
5th Graphite and Graphene Conference shortly after
Mines and Money, Havard Gautneb, senior geologist at the
Geological Survey of Norway, said that Norway was highly
prospective for metallic and industrial minerals including
ferroalloy metals, silicon, nickel, manganese, magnesite,
olivine and graphite.
He told IM that even though Norway and
Scandinavian countries in general are "mining friendly" with
well-developed associated infrastructure, land ownership issues
and the relatively high costs of mining in the region are among
the reasons why Scandinavia does not have more resource
One company, which preferred not to be named but which is
investigating developing graphite alongside its metallic
mineral operations in Sweden, told IM that it
was very positive about the opportunities to develop mines in
Scandinavia, but said that even relatively straightforward
projects required extensive stakeholder negotiations, for
example with reindeer farmers.