Government of Greenland supports mining activities, despite no to uranium

By Minister of Housing, Infrastructure, Mineral Resources and Gender Equality, Naaja H. Nathanielsen

In the election campaign, opposition to exploitation of uranium was a topic that took up much space. It was a topic that politically separated the parties and a topic that occupied the population. Therefore, the debate also found its way to newspapers and TV at home and abroad. On the other hand, there was not much talk about the widespread political agreement on support for mining. But it exists and it extends across party political boundaries.

To my knowledge, there are no parties that oppose mining. On the contrary, we have a strong and shared vision that the mineral resources area will, in the future, constitute a larger part of our economy for the benefit of all citizens. The new government adheres to the existing mineral strategy for the period 2020-2024 and the legislation is the same today as yesterday. Investors can therefore safely participate in the development of projects, as long as the projects do not involve mining of radioactive elements.

Resistance to mining of and the use of radioactive elements is not unique to Greenland. Elsewhere in the world, too, it is a topic that arouses debate. In Greenland, we have so far solved it by issuing special terms to the (very few) projects dealing with radioactive elements. The special terms relate to the possibility of exploiting radioactive elements. In this connection, it is important to point out that the special terms have been issued under various governments. The special conditions can therefore not only be reduced to a question of party politics, but have also been about the fact that we as an authority have needed to install an emergency brake in the projects, as exploitation of radioactive elements requires quite a lot of the authorities in relation to control and supervision, and as there may be special environmental, health and societal conditions in this regard.

The new government has a good understanding of the need to communicate clearly about the approach to mining, especially in relation to radioactive elements. The coalition is not in favor of uranium exploitation and according to a recent poll, this view is shared by a large part of the population. To counteract unrest, it is therefore necessary to create clear guidelines for the exploitation of radioactive minerals in Greenland. The coalition expects to be able to present a proposal for a zero-tolerance policy this year and looks forward to discussing this with the Parliament.

In relation to the Greenland Minerals’ project at Kuannersuit, it will be processed in accordance with the Mineral Resources Act and the special terms issued to the company. The government operates in accordance with the Mineral Resources Act and complies with the terms set out in the exploration licence. A public consultation is already planned in connection with Greenland Minerals’ application for an exploitation licence, and I will of course help to complete it. But I make no secret of the fact that I am simultaneously assessing the possibilities within the framework of the Mineral Resources Act and the exploration licence to avoid exploitation of uranium - also for the Kuannersuit project.

The government is thus completely clear about the goals and ambitions. We say yes to mining and no to uranium. We welcome investors and will develop projects that benefit the population and society. We work within the framework agreed and have never had anything else in mind. And every day we welcome the many exciting projects throughout the country, that do not contain radioactive elements.