Greenland government to scrap rare earth mine | Canberra weather

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Greenland’s new government is preparing legislation that will ban uranium mining and stop development of the Kvanefjeld mine, one of the world’s largest rare earth deposits, the country’s Minister of Mineral Resources said. Kvanefjeld, owned by Australian mining company Greenland Minerals and located near the southern town of Narsaq, contains a significant deposit of rare earth metals as well as radioactive uranium which residents fear could harm the fragile environment of the island if it is extracted. The government of Greenland, which came to power in April after campaigning against the development of Kvanefjeld, has announced that it will ban exploration for deposits with uranium concentrations greater than 100 parts per million (ppm), which is considered very low grade by the World Nuclear Association. “What we do know is that the background radiation in and around Narsaq is quite high, which means the project will conflict with the upcoming zero tolerance policy on uranium mining,” said Mineral Resources Minister Naaja Nathanielsen told Reuters in an interview in the capital Nuuk. . Kvanefjeld got preliminary approval last year and was on track to get final approval under the previous government. Mining companies have been pushing for rights to mine rare earth deposits in Greenland, which the US Geological Survey says has the world’s largest untapped deposits of metals used in everything from electric vehicle batteries to missiles. A public hearing on the project ended this week. Greenland Minerals, in which Chinese partner Shenghe Resources has a roughly 10 percent stake, attended community meetings in February, but did not attend meetings in August and September, citing the political nature of the meetings. Chief executive John Mair, whose company has spent more than $ 100 million (AUD $ 137 million) to prepare the project, told Reuters on Friday that he believes his company still has the “valid right to request a license to operate the project in accordance with the laws of Greenland. “. Locals fear that a possible lawsuit against Greenland could hurt its ability to attract investment in an emerging mining sector which they say is critical to growing their economy. Mair said it was too early to consider legal action “but as a state-owned company we must protect the interests of shareholders in case a practical solution is not found.” Nathanielsen said the government in 2013 put a clause in its contract with the company stating that it “has no right to an exploration license and that a refusal can be given for political reasons.” “We cannot issue any guarantees against legal action, but we believe that we are quite well in a possible court case,” she said. The new bill, which will also include the option to ban exploration for other radioactive minerals such as thorium, will be passed in the northern hemisphere in the fall with the support of the Naleraq party, a partner of the coalition, Nathanielsen said. Associated Australian Press

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