Global Warming Has Mining Companies Turning Their Attention to Greenland
Thursday, March 22, 2012
With its ice sheet slowly receding because of global warming, Greenland has become popular with mining companies seeking new stores of valuable minerals.
Beneath the thinning glaciers are lodes of uranium, zinc, iron ore, copper and gold, as well as the extremely important “rare earth” minerals. These latter minerals, including lanthanum, cerium, neodymium, praesodymium, terbium and yttrium, are vital to the production of everything from consumer electronics to military hardware.
Currently, China controls 97% of the market for rare earth minerals, and its attempts to raise prices on them have forced the U.S. and other countries to seek alternative supplies.
An Australian firm, Greenland Minerals and Energy, has already obtained licenses to conduct test mining on the island. The company estimates there could be at least 6.5 million tons of rare earth minerals underground, along with large quantities of uranium.
Meanwhile, oil companies are already exploring off the western coast of Greenland.
Some of the companies seeking access to Greenland’s new mining frontier include Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Dong E&P, Esso, GDF Suez, Husky Energy, Maersk Oil, P. A. Resources, Petronas, Shell and Statoil.
Greenland, long a colony of Denmark, gained greater autonomy in 2009. In a State Department cable from May 2009, then-U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Jim Cain boasted that “To help the Greenlanders secure the investments needed for such exploitation, I recently introduced Home Rule Premier Enoksen and Minister of Finance and Foreign Affairs ALEQA Hammond to some of our top U.S. financial institutions in New York.”
-Noel Brinkerhoff, David Wallechinsky
To Learn More:
As Greenland's Glaciers Recede, a Rush on the Riches Buried Below (by Silvia von der Weiden, Die Welt via Worldcrunch)
As Arctic Ice Melts, U.S. Competes for Oil, Gold and other Resources (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
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