Greenland looking for Korean investors

After an extended Spring Festival break, I’m back to report on Greenland minister Vittus Qujaukitsoq’s recent visit to Seoul, where he touted the island’s mining potential.

At a mining seminar on March 16 in Seoul, Vittus stated that companies mining in Greenland are competitive enough to attract investors. He mentioned natural resources among the main areas of cooperation with South Korea since Lee Myung-Bak’s visit to the island in 2012, reports news portal Global Economic News (글로벌이코노믹). A second seminar promoted tourism, fashion and food.

Vittus also had meetings with steelmaker POSCO and chaebol Daelim. The latter showed “a great interest” for the island’s hydroelectric potential, according to a story posted on the Greenlandic gov’t website.

Hydropower was prominently mentioned in a “historic” agreement last year between the parties in Greenland’s ruling coalition that sets forth ambitious (if vague) plans to develop the island’s infrastructure. Vittus’ meetings with Sinohydro (中国水电), China State Construction Engineering (CSCEC, 中建) and other SOEs last October in Beijing were likely related to those plans, as seem to be the recent visit to Seoul and the promotion events planned for later this year in China.

Last year’s Beijing meetings went largely unreported in Danish and English media, except for what I wrote on them in December.

Representatives from companies mining (or expected to start mining soon) in Greenland also attended the seminar, among them Ironbark and Greenland Minerals and Energy, two Australian companies working towards production licenses, possibly in cooperation with China Nonferrous. More on that here.

Neither the Danish nor Korean-language reports linked to above mention the elephant in the room: South Korean state-owned miner KORES, that had been conducting exploration activities at a REE+Nb deposit with NunaMinerals. NunaMinerals has been in suspension of payments for months now, and restructuring plans are stalled as of refinancing has repeatedly failed to materialise. New Korean investors might need some convincing given that precedent.

To finish on a transcriptional note, the Global Economic news story transcribes the minister’s name as 비투스 쿠아오키속 Bituseu Kuaokisok, likely transcribed ‘by ear’ given the simplification of the ja and the ts.

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