Let your fingers do the talking

Foreground | Greenland’s mining officials are in Toronto to make their case to investors

The proof is in the drilling (📷: Hudson Resources)

Kevin McGwin

The best thing Prince Frederik, Denmark’s heir apparent, could to do promote Greenland’s mining industry would be to raise a finger at those sceptical of its potential.

No, not that finger. Frederik’s wedding ring (as well as the one worn by his wife) was fashioned, in 2004, from some of the first gold that was produced from the then-newly-operational Nalunaq mine, in southern Greenland. As such, it serves as a symbol of the potential of the country’s mineral wealth. It also a reminder of how much the country has riding on the sector. Nuuk, for example, is hoping that mining will form one of the pillars of a country that is economically (and, eventually, politically) independent from Copenhagen.

Unfortunately, Frederik’s ring is also a reminder of just how arduous a task it will be to accomplish that goal. The mine that produced the gold that went into the rings is no longer in operation. Its closure, in 2013, left the mining sector in a period of complete dormancy that was not broken until 2017, with the opening of the Aappaluttoq ruby mine. A second operation, this one producing anorthosite, came on-line in 2018. More are in the pipeline, though some have been about to enter production for years.

These facts meant that Frederik, and the entourage of Danish and Greenlandic officials attending PDAC, a huge mining trade show being held in Toronto this week, were already going to have their work cut out for them to attract investors. Their assignment was made harder last week after the Fraser Institute, a Canadian market-research outfit, published its annual survey of mining companies.

Greenland, which once ranked as high as seventh (in 2013, out of a total of 112 jurisdictions) this year slipped for the third year running, to 63 (out of 83), the worst in Europe. One of the main reasons, according to the Fraser Institute, is a drop in Greenland’s Policy Perception Index, which measures the effects of government policy on attitudes toward investment.

In response, Greenland’s mining officials point out that the Fraser guide is not the be-all and end-all of mining outlooks, and suggest that surveys that rely on objective measurements are more reliable.

“I’m not surprised when someone goes 20 places ahead or back,” Jørgen T Hammeken-Holm, the deputy minister for mining, told Sermitsiaq, a Greenlandic news outlet. “I find it hard to take a study that is based on subjective criteria very seriously, given its lack of a professional approach.”

In other words, he is raising a finger to Fraser. Yes, that one.

When: 3-6 Mar
Where: Toronto, Canada
WWW: PDAC 2019

Related article
Sustainable Arctic Mining? A Comparative Analysis of Greenland and Nunavut Mining Discourses

Foreground articles offer a preview of events related to the Arctic that will be taking place in coming week.

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