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(last updated 12 Sep 2019)
General · Kvanefjeld
The following companies are performing uranium prospection and/or exploration in Greenland: Prime Minerals Ltd , Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd , Ram Resources Ltd , TANBREEZ Mining Greenland A/S
Uranium mining in Greenland is being opposed by Earth Charter Narsaq, Narsami Uranisiornermut Naaggaartut (Association against uranium in Narsaq).
> See also: Greenland's zero-tolerance uranium policy
Government of Greenland rejects company's complaint about handling of EIA report for Kvanefjeld uranium mine:
Back in April this year, the mining company Greenland Minerals made a serious criticism of the Environmental Protection Agency's handling of the EIA report for the Kvanefjeld project. The criticism is in every way unfounded, states a decision taken by the supreme authority in the field.
It is Naalakkersuisut [Government of Greenland] who has dealt with the appeal as the supreme authority and the decision cannot be appealed to any other administrative authority.
The decision states:
- Naalakkersuisut finds that Greenland Minerals (GML) complaint of April 4, 2019 is groundless and that GML has not provided any information that may justify any criticism of the Environment Agency for the Mineral Area.
- Naalakkersuisut requires GML to comply with the orders set by the Environment Agency for the Mineral Area in its decisions.
(Sermitsiaq Sep. 9, 2019)
Capital cost estimate for Kvanefjeld rare earth and uranium mine project reduced by 40%: On July 9, 2019, Greenland Minerals Ltd announced an updated capital cost estimate for the Kvanefjeld Project). The Project's capital cost estimate has been reduced by 40% from US$ 832 million to US$ 505 million. The reduction in the capital cost estimate is the result of optimisation studies covering all elements of the project from the flowsheet to civil construction.
Stability of tailings dam at proposed Kvanefjeld uranium mine unclear: There is no plan for the dam structures in the tailings depot in Taseq Lake. Thus, you do not really know the durability of the dam by, for example, an earthquake. This is the verdict from the professor of geology, which has gained access to the background documents for the preliminary EIA report for the Kuannersuit project via the environmental organization NOAH. (Sermitsiaq Apr. 28, 2019)
Demonstration against proposed Kvanefjeld uranium mine: On Apr. 26, 2019, about 75-80 adults and a couple of children held a demonstration in Narsaq to show their opposition to a possible future mining operation on the Kvanefjeld. (Sermitsiaq Apr. 26, 2019)
Formation of joint venture with CNNC for processing of Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium minerals raises concern that Greenlandic uranium may end up with Chinese military: One cannot rule out that Greenlandic uranium can be used for military purposes. Therefore, one should ask a number of questions before screwing any contract together [...], says Professor Jørgen Delman from the Department of Cross-Cultural Affairs, who is an expert in Chinese matters. (Sermitsiaq Feb. 1, 2019)
Joint venture formed for processing of Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium minerals in China:
On Jan. 23, 2019, Greenland Minerals Ltd (GML) announced that Shenghe Resources Holding Co Ltd (Shenghe) GML's largest shareholder has formed a joint venture company with subsidiaries of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), to create China Nuclear Hua Sheng Mining Ltd (Hua Sheng), in which Shenghe will hold a 45% interest.
Hua Sheng will be the designated agent for Shenghe for the import, export and trading of rare earth materials and products that carry radionuclides, common constituents of rare earth rich minerals and concentrates.
On August 21, 2018, GML entered a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Shenghe that encompasses the offtake of total output of rare earth elements from Kvanefjeld in either chemical or mineral concentrate.
Updated Environmental Impact Assessment lodged for Kvanefjeld uranium project: On Sep. 3, 2018, Greenland Minerals Ltd announced that it has lodged an updated Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report for the Kvanefjeld uranium project with the Greenland Government. The EIA will be reviewed in parallel to undergoing translation to Greenlandic and Danish in preparation for a public consultation period.
Kvanefjeld Mining Project endangers UNESCO World Heritage Site, opponents claim:
"The UNESCO world heritage site at Kujataa is located too close to the uranium/REE mining project at Kvanefjeld and should be put on the World Heritage Convention's danger list until all plans for mining at Kvanefjeld are abandoned."
> View NOAH release Aug. 8, 2018
Demonstration against uranium mining in Greenland: On May 15, 2018, about 50 people held a demonstration in Narsaq to protest against the coalition government's uranium policy. (Sermitsiaq May 16, 2018)
UN Special Rapporteur has concerns on public involvement for Kvanefjeld rare earth/uranium mine project: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes, Baskut Tuncak visited Denmark and Greenland on 2-13 October 2017:
"Mining activities> View: UN Special Rapporteur's News release · End-of-visit statement , Oct. 13, 2017
[...] Despite this positive starting point, the task of informing communities and organizing discussions around especially complex topics is inherently challenging. Attention should be given to the time offered for discussion (currently comments can be submitted within 45 days, but this deadline might be too difficult to meet considering complexities and challenges in mobilizing civil society in remote locations), challenges in translating technical concepts to Greenlandic language, and to the need to reach directly remote communities as the internet might not be the sufficient channel for them.
Particular concerns exists with regard to the prospects of opening a mine for rare earth elements, zinc and uranium in Kvanefjeld, near Narsaq, considering the proximity of this mine to local settlements and the use of some neighboring areas for sheep farms. However, the assessment process for this project is still underway."
Kvanefjeld uranium mine project obtains first approval:
On behalf of Greenland, the Danish Maritime Authority has approved GME's statement on maritime safety in connection with the Kvanefjeld project.
With the approval, the first of three important studies was approved in connection with the consultation and investigation of the impact of the mining project in this area. The other two statements are EIA and VSB, ie explanations for the impact the project has on the environment and the locals. The report on safety at sea in the mining project consists, among other things, in clarifying the safest and most environmentally friendly methods of transporting freight to and from the mine area. (KNR Oct. 15, 2017)
Newly listed World Heritage in the shadow of proposed Kvanefjeld uranium mine:
Five areas in South Greenland, which have been farming for 1,000 years, were admitted to UNESCO's prestigious World Heritage List.
South Greenland is rich in minerals, but no mining operations may take place in areas on the UNESCO list.
The World Heritage Committee has no doubt that South Greenland is worthy to be listed, but until the very decision taken on Sunday, July 9, in the Polish cultural city of Krakow, Greenland was faced with critical questions about the future interaction between World Heritage and Mining.
The World Heritage Committee would like, among other things, to study the popular protest and environmental consequences of a uranium deposit at Kvanefjeld, which is not far from Qassiarsuk - one of the five subdivisions [of the Kujataa World Heritage ], says Anja Jochimsen of the Department of Culture, Education, Research and Church. (Sermitsiaq July 31, 2017)
NGOs release withheld EIA draft report for Kvanefjeld mining project:
"The Kvanefjeld project does not meet the environmental requirements of Greenland's Mineral Resources Act", says Niels Henrik Hooge from NOAH Friends of the Earth Denmark's Uranium Group. "The EIA draft report raises more questions than it answers. It does not ensure that environmental risks are assessed and reduced as much as is practically possible. Chapter 13 of this Act is very clear: GMEL must apply the best available techniques, which is not the case, when both the concentrator tailings and the chemical tailings from the refinery are disposed of in Lake Taseq high up in the Narsaq valley river system. From here, radioactive isotopes and toxic chemicals will enter the groundwater, rivers, fiords and the sea. [...]"
> Download: NOAH press release Mar. 10, 2017 (143k PDF)
> Download: Greenland Mineral and Energy Limited Kvanefjeld Project, Environmental Impact Assessment, Draft, October 2015 (9MB PDF)
> Download: Comments on: Kvanefjeld Project. Environmental Impact Assessment, Greenland Mineral and Energy Limited, Draft, October 2015 , prepared by Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen, MSc, 22 Jan. 2017 (776kB PDF)
Greenland regulator rejects medias' request to access Environmental Impact Assessment for Kvanefjeld uranium project: The requests of [radio] DR and [newspaper] AG, who last fall were seeking access to the previously submitted EIA materials - environmental assessment of the project - have namely just been refused by the Environmental Protection Agency of Mineral Resources. AG will now appeal the decision to the Environmental Protection Agency for Mineral Resources. (Sermitsiaq Mar. 8, 2017)
Environmental Impact Assessment for Kvanefjeld uranium project still being withheld from public:
Citizens still have to wait for specific knowledge about the environmental impact of mining uraniferous ore at Kvanefjeld at Narsaq.
The draft of the so-called EIA assessment of the project has been played back and forth between the raw material department and the company for many months now, while the final deadline for submission is postponed again and again.
And although, according to the law, access should be given to documents that go in and out of the self government, this rule apparently has been temporarily suspended. (Sermitsiaq Jan. 11, 2017)
Company is blocking access to Environmental Impact Assessment for Kvanefjeld uranium project
(Sermitsiaq Oct. 26, 2016)
[It appears the company is eager to get a Hall-of-Infamy page of its own on our website as soon as possible...]
Company refuses to disclose documents on Chinese company's option to acquire majority share in Kvanefjeld uranium project, because it has no confidence in the government's ability to keep secrets (!):
Greenland Minerals and Energy refused to disclose the agreement with Shenghe to the Raw Materials Department. The Department requested the agreement, after it emerged that Shenghe has secured an option to bid for 60% of the Kvanefjeld project.
GME director John Mair states also that a major reason he will not disclose the agreement is that he does not trust that the department can keep it secret. - We have little confidence in the Greenlandic government's ability to preserve and protect the confidentiality of documents which, pursuant Australian law, must remain private and confidential between GME and Shenghe. (Sermitsiaq Oct. 13, 2016)
[It's interesting to note that the company believes it can behave like this, while still awaiting a mining license from the same government...]
Chinese rare earth company to acquire 12.5% stake in owner of Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium mine project, with option up to 60%:
On Sep. 23, 2016, Greenland Minerals and Energy announced that Shenghe Resources Holding Co. Ltd is to acquire a 12.5% interest in the company, subject to shareholder and Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) approval being obtained prior to November 30th, 2016.
According to Politiken (Sep. 27, 2016), the Chinese company has also acquired an option to purchase up to 60 percent of the shares at a later date if the mine becomes reality. This option is not mentioned by Greenland Minerals and Energy, but only in a stock exchange disclosure of Shenghe Resources.
> Download: Shenghe Resources Holding Co. Ltd announcement Sep. 23, 2016 (315k PDF - in Chinese)
[Ehm - wasn't independence from the Chinese rare earth producers one of the initial incentives for the project?]
Greenlandic Broadcasting Corporation KNR fires uranium-critical journalist: Kalaallit Nunaata Radioa (Greenlandic Broadcasting Corporation) has fired journalist Søren Lyberth for displaying a 'Uran Naamik' (Uranium No) sticker while conducting interviews at the anti-uranium demonstration held on April 8. (Sermitsiaq May 19, 2016)
Inuit Association ICC publishes report criticising lack of citizen involvement with Kvanefjeld uranium mine project:
> Download: 'Ajorpoq' - vi får ingen svar! "Bedre borgerinddragelse om Kuannersuit" , by Mia Olsen Siegstad and Mads Fægteborg, December 2015 (5.2MB PDF - in Danish)
Demonstrations at eight locations in Greenland against mining of uranium:
On Apr. 8, 2016, demonstrations against the mining of uranium were held at several places in the country.
(Sermitsiaq Apr. 8, 2016)
Demonstrations were held in eight towns: in Nuuk, Ilulissat (about 50 people), Qaqortoq (about 50 people), Narsaq, Narsarsuaq (about 50 people), among others. (Sermitsiaq Apr. 9, 2016)
Feasibility Study update announced for Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium project: On Apr. 6, 2016, Greenland Minerals and Energy announced that it has completed an update to its feasibility study, incorporating several modifications "which significantly improve the Project's financial outcomes".
Hearing confirms criticism of uranium mining in Greenland and need for referendum, NGOs conclude:
At the initiative of Aaja Chemnitz Larsen (Inuit Ataqatigiit), Danish Parliament held a hearing on Wednesday (Mar. 16) on the possible extraction of radioactive substances in southern Greenland.
The organizations Avataq, the Association Urani Naamik in Narsaq, Nuuk Fjord Friends, The Ecological Council in Denmark, Noah Friends of the Earth Denmark and Renewable Energy believe that the consultation confirms Greenlandic and Danish environmental organizations' criticism of uranium mining, and think at the same time that the consultation underlines the need for a referendum in Greenland reintroducing the uranium ban. (Sermitsiaq Mar. 19, 2016)
> View video of hearing (in Danish)
Permitting phase begins for Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium mine project:
On Nov. 25, 2015, Greenland Minerals and Energy Limited announced that the Greenland Government has approved the public pre-hearing White Paper, and Terms of Reference
(ToR) for the Kvanefjeld project.
> Access project documents (Government of Greenland)
> Download Amended Terms of Reference for Environmental Impact Assessment , Oct. 2015 (3.5MB PDF - English version)
> Download Terms of Reference for the Social Impact Assessment , Oct. 2015 (2.0MB PDF - English version)
> Download White Paper with Responses to Questions Put Forward During the Pre-Hearing Period , Oct. 2015 (492k PDF - English version)
Environmental groups criticize planned lake disposal of Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium project tailings: The organizations Avataq, Urani Naamik / Nej Til Uran, VedvarendeEnergi and the Ecological Council, do not believe that the mining company Greenland Minerals & Energy (GME) uranium and rare earth mining project in Kuannersuit near Narsaq is justifiable. This applies especially to the mining company plans to deposit millions of tons of so-called tailings waste that is radioactive in Taseq Lake. Such a solution would not be a possibility if Greenland was an EU country, as it would be contrary to the Union's environmental regulations, argue critics. (Sermitsiaq Aug. 14, 2015)
Positive Feasibility Study announced for Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium project: On May 25, 2015, Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd announced that it has completed a Feasibility Study for the development of the Kvanefjeld Multi-Element Project. The Study 'Base Case' evaluates the development of a mine, mineral concentrator, a refinery and supporting infrastructure located in Greenland treating 3.0 Mt/annum of ore to extract rare earth elements (REEs), uranium and zinc.
Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd signs new Memorandum of Understanding with Chinese partner NFC on development of Kvanefjeld Project:
On April 7, 2015, Greenland Minerals and Energy Limited (GMEL) announced that a second Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed with China Non-Ferrous Metal Industry's Foreign Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd. (NFC).
Under the terms of the new MoU GMEL will be responsible for finalising the exploitation license application and commencing the permitting process. In addition, GMEL will complete pilot plant operations in the coming months that will provide further confidence and rigour to the proposed process flow sheet. NFC will provide assistance to GMEL in preparing the exploitation license application, and both parties will cooperate in identifying and completing further work programs required for the Project to reach bankable status.
Demonstration in Copenhagen against uranium mining in Greenland: On Friday afternoon (Aug. 1) Danish time about 100 people participated in an announced demonstration against uranium mining in Greenland. (Sermitsiaq Aug. 1, 2014)
Plan for overseas refinery of Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium concentrates abandoned: On July 22, 2014, Greenland Minerals and Energy Limited (GMEL) announced that "based on the support from NFC and the advice from the local key stakeholders GMEL considers that the most suitable location for the hydrometallurgical refinery is in Greenland, adjacent to the mine and concentrator. Consequently this scenario has been selected as the basis for the Feasibility Study and the Terms of Reference for the EIA and SIA (approved in 2011) will be updated to reflect this."
Refining of Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium concentrates to take place in China:
On Mar. 24, 2014, Greenland Minerals and Energy Limited (GMEL) announced that it has signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with China Non-Ferrous Metal Industry's Foreign Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd. (NFC). "The MoU sets out a framework for both parties to cooperate in aligning the rare earth concentrates from GMEL's Kvanefjeld Project, with NFC's substantial rare earth separation experience and capacity, to create a powerful force in global rare earth supply. [...] NFC's participation in the rare earth industry comes through its subsidiary Guangdong Zhujiang Rare Earths Company [...]"
No more need for appeasements after lifting of zero-tolerance uranium policy: refinery for Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium project now planned in Greenland: If the company succeeds in attracting international investors to invest the 5.5 billion Danish Crowns [US$ 1 billion] in the construction of mine, ore concentrator, refinery and port in southern Greenland, it is realistic that the mine could start production in the first half of 2017, says Greenland Minerals & Energy director Rod McIllree. (Berlingske Nov. 5, 2013)
Proposed Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium mine to dump millions of tonnes of tailings in nearby lake:
Lake Tasek is to receive 56 million tonnes of tailings from the proposed Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium mine, according to the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS). The tailings will still contain the thorium and half of the uranium initially present in the ore.
Chemical engineer Gert Asmund , who is a senior fellow at the University of Aarhus Department of Bioscience - Arctic Environment, says that it is impossible to isolate the tailings in order to prevent leakage and emissions: "It will rain down on the lake, and so there must be an overflow". (Ingeniøren Nov. 5, 2013)
[The 56 million tonnes figure is based on the obsolete 1983 Risø report (see below). The 2012 Prefeasibility Study (see below) assumed the mining of 232.6 million t of ore, resulting in approx. 230 million t of tailings. Given the deposit's total resource of 956 million t of ore, the amount of tailings can reach approx. 940 million t. This definitely exceeds the capacity of Lake Tasek, necessitating an additional tailings deposit of some sort.]
Company proposes to locate refinery for Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium project in Denmark: Greenland Mining and Energy recently proposed that the separation of uranium from rare earths could be made in Risø (Denmark). (Sermitsiaq Oct. 3, 2013)
Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium mine project only viable, if uranium is sold: "Is the project sustainable without export of uranium? No. I think that the project requires all revenue from the products that can be made from the different raw materials if it is to be internationally competitive," said Roderick McIllree, CEO of Greenland Mining and Energy (GME ). (Politiken Sep. 23, 2013)
Off-shore refinery under consideration for Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium project:
On Feb. 28, 2013, Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd announced that it is investigating the potential of establishing the refinery for its Kvanfjeld project outside of Greenland. The company is finalising a study for the establishment of a 3 million tonne per year mine and mineral concentrator in Greenland and expects to complete the studies for an off-shore refinery during 2013. The establishment of a refinery overseas will mean a smaller project footprint in Greenland.
On Mar. 26, 2013, Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd announced the completion of a Mine and Concentrator Study. The mine and concentrator (flotation circuit) will produce a high-grade REE-uranium mineral concentrate, along with zinc (6,180 tpa) and fluorspar by-products (8,865 tpa). The REE-uranium mineral concentrate containing 14% total rare earth oxides (REO) and 0.24% uranium oxide (U3O8) will then be treated in a dedicated refinery to produce 23,000 tpa of high purity mixed rare earth hydroxide, and 1.1 Mlbs U3O8 (423 t U). The incremental cost of recovering the uranium is less than US$ 37/lb U3O8. Following expansion to 6 Mtpa the uranium unit production costs drop to less than US$ 31/lb U3O8.
Greenland Minerals obtains full ownership of Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium project: On Aug. 6, 2012, Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd announced that it has finalised an agreement with Westrip Holdings and Rimbal Pty Ltd to complete the acquisition for the outstanding 39% of the exploration license (EL 2010/02) that contains the Kvanefjeld, Sørensen and Zone 3 deposits, with an equity-based transaction.
Positive Prefeasibility Study announced for Kvanefjeld rare earth - uranium project: On May 4, 2012, Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd announced that the "Kvanefjeld Prefeasibility Study confirms a long-life, cost competitive rare earth element - uranium project".
Greenland authorizes exploration of radioactive minerals at Kvanefjeld deposit:
Greenland Minerals and Energy A/S has now been authorized to investigate radioactive elements, the company announced, after the Department of Business and Employment changed the conditions for exploration.
Naalakkersuisut's [Government of Greenland] decision means that Greenland Minerals and Energy has been authorized to apply for a use permit, including radioactive minerals, says the company.
The decision comes after Greenland Minerals and Energy has announced that the company can not complete the so-called feasibility studies of environmental, health, profitability and social impact without also including radioactive elements in the investigation.
In a press release the company acknowledges that the decision lies within the coalition Qoornoq agreement, which maintains the zero-tolerance policy. The decision means that Greenland Minerals and Energy A/S can continue its planned activities in Narsaq in 2012 and 2013. (Sermitsiaq Dec. 1, 2011)
"Terms of Reference" approved for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments on the Kvanefjeld project:
On Aug. 2, 2011, Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd announced that the Greenland government has approved the "Terms of Reference" (ToR) for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessments on the Kvanefjeld project.
> Download: ToR for Environmental Impact Assessment, Kvanefjeld Multi-Element Project , July 2011 (2MB PDF)
> Download: ToR for Social Impact Assessment, Kvanefjeld Multi-Element Project , June 2011 (726kB PDF)
Former Greenland premier becomes chairman of mining company that plans to extract uranium in Greenland: Former Greenland premier Lars-Emil Johansen is new chairman of the Australian mining company Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd that will extract rare earth metals in Kvanefjeld. This mining is only possible with uranium by-product extraction. (Sermitsiaq avis July 2, 2009)
Greenland issues first exploration license for uranium as an accompanying mineral: On Dec. 14, 2010, Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd announced "that it has received approval by the government of Greenland to fully evaluate the Kvanefjeld multi-element project, inclusive of radioactive elements (uranium). The permit has been issued in accordance with the recent amendment to the standard terms for exploration licenses in Greenland that creates a framework for the evaluation of mineral deposits that include uranium amongst other economic elements."
On Feb. 1, 2010, Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd announced the receipt of positive interim pre-feasibility report for the Kvanefjeld rare earth/uranium deposit.
A Pre-Feasibility Study (PFS) for the Kvanefjeld deposit is on-schedule for completion late in the third quarter, 2009. (Greenland Minerals and Energy June 19, 2009)
On Jan. 29, 2009, the Association for opponents of the mining of uranium-bearing minerals at Kvanefjeld was founded. Kalistat Lund was appointed president. (Sermitsiaq avis Jan. 30, 2009)
> Download: Preliminary Environmental Impact Statement for the Kvanefjeld Uranium Mine , by
Kim Pilegaard, Risø National Laboratory, Roskilde, Denmark, Risø-M-2875,
September 1990, 138 p. (3.3MB PDF)
[This report was prepared in 1983 as part of the documentation for the Kvanefjeld Uranium Project funded by the Danish Ministry of Commerce. It covers a mining and milling operation solely for uranium.]
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