As the Greenlandic parliament prepares to revise a ‘large scale act’ (storskalalov in Danish) that would allow foreign workers in large mining projects to be paid below Greenlandic minimum wages, London Mining has finally received an exploitation license for the Isua site, near the Nuup Kangerlua (Godthåbsfjord) some 100km from Nuuk. London Mining looks forward to extracting up to 15m tonnes a year of iron concentrate, enough to make Greenland a significant iron ore producer and possibly heralding similar projects elsewhere on the island.
Some form of the storskalalov is essential to the Isua project: the 3000 workers it’s said to require can’t be found locally. They would instead come mostly from China, likely the future mine’s main customer and the source of financing for its construction. The law was actually passed last year, but the controversy it created paralysed the project, interrupted negotiations with potential financial backers from China, and indeed led to the fall of the government and fresh elections. The revised form of the law, with broad support across the political spectrum, still continues to generate skepticism among trade unions and environmentalists. The Greenlandic legislature is expected to give the revised bill a second reading in mid November.
Meanwhile, the repeal of a ban on uranium mining clears the way for the Kvanefjeld project, that could make Greenland the biggest supplier of rare earths outside China. The ban applied because some uranium is also present in the deposit.