Greenland, a new eldorado for rare earths

The subsoil of the largest island in the world is full of metals used in armaments and the energy transition, arousing the appetite of investors on the planet. For the territory, the challenge is both geopolitical and environmental.

In Greenland, start-ups are snapping up geologists rather than developers. The minerals of one of the rare regions still unexploited on the planet arouse the desires and the investments of the whole world. Even American billionaires Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates are interested in it. KoBold Metals, the company in which they are shareholders and which uses artificial intelligence to explore new deposits, launched its first drilling near Disko Bay in the south-west of the country in March, in order to prospect for nickel, copper and cobalt.

The number of mining licenses on the island has exploded over the past two decades, going from 19 in 2001 to around 100 in 2022. Greenlandic Minister for Natural Resources, Naaja Nathanielsen. Because the country is so big that we still have a lot to discover. » The holders of a license have the obligation to provide the administration with the results of their discoveries. “Greenland is currently attracting many small companies that employ geologists and sell data to large mining companies,” the minister continues. Only two mines are in operation. One extracts ruby at Aappaluttoq and the other from anorthosite, used in aluminum and building materials, at Kangerlussuaq.

The subsoil of the largest island in the world is full of iron, lead, zinc, nickel, gold, platinum and, above all, rare metals used in armaments and the energy transition, for batteries electricity or wind turbines. The exploitation of gas and oil is prohibited there, for fear of the devastating and irreversible consequences of an oil spill trapped in the ice of Greenland.

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