A report has just established that the main mines of critical raw materials, essential to EU countries, are in Greenland.
Lithium, fluorite, tantalum, niobium, hafnium, zirconium. Names that may not mean much to you but are nevertheless part of everyday life. These are in fact minerals which constitute electronic compounds such as magnets, batteries or the metal alloys of most of our modern devices. Compounds therefore essential to our economy but also to the green transition.
At least, that’s what the European Commission defined by determining that 34 raw materials were of crucial importance to the economies of European Union countries. However, most of these critical raw materials (CRM) are found in Greenland, according to a report recently published by the Center for Minerals and Materials (MiMa) of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland GEUS.
It is in particular the south, southwest, east and north parts of the island which contain the most important deposits of CRM. In addition, the island has high potential for eleven of these materials considered essential to the economy of EU countries. Reserves of “world caliber” as recently mentioned in the columns of Sermitsiaq by Jakob Kløve Keiding, director of MiMa and one of the authors of the report.
South Greenland, in particular the province of Gardar, constitutes an exceptional CRM reserve. The large Ilímaussaq deposits contain rare earth elements (REE) but also lithium, fluorite, tantalum, niobium, hafnium and zirconium. Without forgetting the Amitsoq deposit which contains graphite. The latter is particularly interesting for its numerous industrial applications. In addition, it appears that significant undiscovered deposits may be found elsewhere in the south, as well as to the west and east of the island.
In the southwest, there is phosphorus, REE or feldspar. The latter is notably used in the composition of ceramics and glass along with soil fertilization in agriculture.
Eastern Greenland represents an even more interesting potential as this part of the island is still under-explored. However, significant deposits of tungsten, tin, antimony or sedimentary copper could be found there and could be added to the large deposits of Malmbjerg, Karstryggen and Skaergaard which contain elements such as molybdenum which is used to harden alloys and make stainless steel, the very versatile strontium (electrical and coloring applications), the precious metals of the platinum group or titanium.
As for northern Greenland, the Thule region contains a significant reserve of titanium, an element particularly important for the aeronautics, energy and military sectors. The Franklinian sedimentary basin would have potential for zinc or lead deposits.
If at present only two mines are active and exploit rubies and anorthosite, Greenland conceals a real gold mine in its soils. The demand for CRM is also increasing and the Greenlandic deposits could be able to satisfy it. It remains to be seen how the island will exploit these resources – if they exploit them.
Link to the GEUS report : https://pub.geus.dk/da/publications/review-of-the-critical-raw-material-resource-potential-in-greenla
Mirjana Binggeli, PolarJournal
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