Entrance to the former Nalunaq gold mine. Photo: Yu Jia

The Greenland subsoil contains a variety of valuable minerals, rare earth metals, precious metals, precious stones, coal, graphite and uranium. Greenland has been a mining nation since the late 1700’s, where coal was excavated in Qaarsut on the Nuussauq Peninsula.

In addition to coal, a mining has included gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, graphite, olivine, cryolite and marble.

A number of mines have closed in recent years, including the Seqi olivine mine near Maniitsoq, which was shut down in 2011, and the Nalunaq gold mine near Nanortalik, which was decommissioned in 2013.

However, new mining projects have been launched, including a ruby mine near Qeqertarsuatsiaat (Fiskenæsset). Furthermore, a permit has been granted for the extraction of rare earth elements at Killavaat Alannguat, of the mineral anorthosite near Kangerlussuaq, and an application is expected to be filed for a mine to exploit rare earth elements and uranium at Kuannersuit (Kvanefjeld). 

A current list of assigned exploration and exploitation licenses can be found on the Greenland Self-Government website www.govmin.gl/minerals.

The role of the department is to advise the responsible authority - the Environmental Agency for Mineral Resources Activities - in issues concerning possible environmental impacts associated with mining activities. The advice is related to the issuing of exploration and exploitation permit licenses, approval of fieldwork, EIAs (Environmental Impact Assessment) and monitoring in connection to construction, operation and decommissioning of mines.

Updated 03.10.2016