While the debate over the Kvanefjeld rare earth mining project is in full swing, the Greenland government has granted the French company Orano SA a permit to search for uranium in two areas. The areas are located in the south-west of Greenland and further north. The permit allows Orano to drill test wells under certain health and safety requirements. Both projects are very controversial among the population.
The French company Orano Mining Limited has just reserved two areas in the southwest of Greenland and a little to the north for the search for uranium. The first area is located north of Arsuk and Narsarsuaq and is 1,042 square kilometres in size. The second area is 2,485 square kilometres in size and consists of two sub-areas around the fjords Ilulileq and Paatsusoq and the fjord Kangerlussuatsiaq respectively. However, the permits are granted on special conditions, where the company cannot automatically expect to receive a use permit.
The newspaper Sermitsiaq reports: ʺIf the company succeeds in discovering uranium, it will be a question for the local government and politicians whether the company should be allowed to obtain an exploitation permitʺ.
Unlike the Kvanefjeld project, where Greenland Minerals focuses on ‘rare earths’ and where radioactive material is only a by-product, the exploration areas of Orano are much further away from populated areas.
However, several associations and politicians have called for the project to be halted because of concerns about radioactive contamination from uranium.
France is the European country that operates the most nuclear power plants. The company, which is operated under state control, has uranium mining projects in several places around the world. This is to ensure the operation of the company’s own nuclear power plants. The company employs over 16,000 people worldwide.
According to the website of the Paris-based Orano Group, the company is a state-owned industrial group active in the manufacture and sale of nuclear technology equipment and fuel for its operation.
Orano Group was formed in 2017 from the formerly listed Areva Group. The group is majority owned by the French State.
Heiner Kubny, Polarjournal