From Iceland — Iceland Expresses Interest In Greenland Mining Projects

Iceland Expresses Interest In Greenland Mining Projects

Published February 11, 2021

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Axel Sig

As protests against several mining projects in Greenland continue to reveal the tensions between international mining concerns and Greenland residents, a new report from Iceland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs outlines in part Iceland’s willingness to take part in mining in Greenland in numerous sectors.

Greenland has long been a favourite target of international mining companies, as the island is rich in numerous minerals. Supporters of these projects have contended that they create jobs and bring infrastructural improvements, but critics have pointed out the environmental damage mining does, as well as the disruption of wildlife upon which the Inuit depend. Most prevalent within this discussion is the Kuannersuit (also called Kvanefjeld) rare earths and uranium mine, which overlooks the southern town of Narsaq and has been a political flashpoint in Greenland.

A new report from Iceland’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Cooperation of Greenland and Iceland in a new Arctic” (“Samstarf Grænlands og Íslands á nýjum Norðurslóðum”), was made public late last month. This reports details the many ways in which the two countries have been, and could continue to be, working together in the Arctic. This includes the field of mining.

Amongst these projects is the Kuannersuit project, called Kvanefjeld in the report.

“In conversations with authorities in Nuuk, it was presented that Greenlanders believe that cooperative efforts with Iceland are the best option for installing and establishing necessary technology [for the mining project] that would be suitable for a small community,” the report reads in part, saying that such technology would be necessary for granting a work permit for the operation.

When it comes to mining in general, Icelandic authorities believe they can have a participatory role in numerous respects. This includes providing construction equipment, passenger flights and helicopters, radiation testing, and rental labour, amongst other things.

This cooperation would include the involvement of the Iceland Chamber of Commerce and the Confederation of Icelandic Enterprise, both of which are non-government organisations, specifically for the purpose of providing potential labour for the mines.

How these cooperative plans will ultimately play out, if at all, still remains to be seen.

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