North Korea and China are not the only nations on the rare-earths (RE) major deposits map.
Denmark and Greenland have just reached an agreement that paves the way for the export of heavy REs – and uranium – and from the large but thinly-populated Arctic island.
The recently signed accord comes after a 1988 ban on the mining of uranium and other radioactive elements was overturned in 2013, four years after the island assumed full control over its mineral and hydrocarbon rights.
Removing the uranium mining ban was crucial for the development of the Kvanefjeld uranium and rare earth element project, being explored by Australia’s Greenland Minerals and Energy. The deposit in southern Greenland contains just over a billion tonnes of mineralised ore including 593 million pounds of uranium, along with zinc and heavy rare earth elements. A feasibility study was completed on the project last year and in November it moved into the permitting phase.
Kvanefjeld is considered to be one of the world’s largest undeveloped deposits of REs and uranium. Its 108-million tonnes ore reserve is estimated to sustain a 37-year minelife.
According to a report in World Nuclear News, the agreement lays out how Greenland, an autonomous country within the Danish kingdom, and Denmark will cooperate on issues related to the mining and export of the nuclear fuel.
“The agreements establish concrete cooperation between Denmark and Greenland, ensuring that Greenland can continue its efforts to expand its mining while the kingdom complies with international obligations and lives up to the highest international standards,” the government of Greenland says.
“It is a complex of agreements which, based on the current division of powers within the realm, clearly specify responsibilities and tasks between Danish and Greenland authorities,” it adds.
The Danish government is expected to introduce legislation on safeguards and export controls to parliament within the next few months, according to World Nuclear News.
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