A new era for mining in Greenland: uranium ban lifted

Uranium glass. Source: photobucket

It’s been a critical 48 hours in Greenland’s mining history. Today, the Greenlandic government lifted the zero-tolerance ban for uranium production.

In a dramatic turn of events yesterday, one of the coalition party members, the nationalist Partii Inuit, was kicked out of parliament because of a disagreement about uranium. The debate was over whether Greenland should approve the production of mining uranium, which is usually exploited for its nuclear properties.

It is a historical decision to change a law, and lift a zero-tolerance ban on mining uranium. This decisionΒ has divided both the parliament and the people. While it will probably be awhile before actual mining production of uranium takes place, the first decisive step has been taken as of today.

Furthermore, this morning the first Greenlandic big-scale venture into iron ore mining was given the green light.

The Chinese company London Mining will find resources to fund an iron project 150 kilometres north of Nuuk, the capital city (where I now live!). Now they just need to source investors – all 14 billion Danish crowns worth of it. The plan is to bring in 3000 workers to build and operate the mine.

FLASHBACK: Most of these workers are expected to be Chinese. At the beginning of this year, ‘a dangerous Chinese influx’ was all the media could talk about so that’s all I could find out about the country. For the record, I’ve only met one lovely Chinese woman and know of one other living in the capital. Perhaps that will change soon.

The leaders of the country have decided that the need for mining production and easy money is more important than the risks involved in the process. They do need new economic revenues if they want to become financially and totally independent from Denmark. Furthermore, many have been unhappy about how Greenland’s decision-making on uranium has been a democratic failure.

For a parliament that doesn’t usually yell at each other like the crazy British and Aussie politicians do, it was pretty dramatic. The winners were singing with joy and the losers were crying (KNR radio news, in Danish).

  • The country as a whole doesn’t really use Twitter, but a niche group of journalists and citizens are using the hashtag #glpol when writing about Greenlandic politics
  • www.KNR.gl (national Greenlandic media, in Danish and Greenlandic)
  • Sermitsiaq.ag (local media, in Danish and Greenlandic)
  • The Arctic Journal (in English)

8 thoughts on “A new era for mining in Greenland: uranium ban lifted

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Tanny. I was actually listening to a short report the other day about this mining story and the effect it is having on some people’s lives. It was on the BBC and you can find it on the following link.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03ffkfn

    I should warn you though, it is not very encouraging.

    Best wishes, Mark

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