Melting Ice Caps Expose Mineral Wealth in Greenland

Melting Ice Caps Expose Mineral Wealth in Greenland
Jeff Squires
  • 5 october 2007

As global warming continues to melt the polar ice cap away, rocks hidden from life for thousands of years are finally being exposed – and luring diamond miners with the prospect of striking it rich. All this comes after a 2.4-carat diamond was found at Garnet lake in west Greenland earlier this year. In addition to diamonds, other resources such as gold, zink, and oil are also being explored and are luring foreign investment to desolate island.

The recent interest in Greenland has fueled another debate for country still under colonial rule from Denmark; can exploiting their mineral resources buy their independence? Heavily dependent on subsidies from Denmark, the flood of money from oil and mineral companies could be sufficient to break free.

However, Aleqa Hammond, the foreign minister of Greenland’s home-rule government has another idea for drumming up the funds to gain independence. The Guardian reports:

Rather than putting her faith in mineral wealth, Mrs Hammond believes that her country’s best prospect of buying its independence lies in hydro-electricity. The vast lakes and melting ice cap provide enormous potential for electricity free from fossil fuel and the Greenland government is negotiating with Alcoa, an aluminium company, to build the world’s second largest smelter. No contract has been signed but the minister hopes this project will provide 3,500 much-needed jobs.

It was ironic, she says, that climate change had melted the ice sufficiently for prospectors to move in, and that might in turn give the nation its independence. A referendum in Denmark had shown a majority in favour of granting Greenland home rule. “We hope it will happen soon.”

The Guardian: Melting ice cap brings diamond hunters and hopes of independence to Greenland


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