China Targets Greenland for Mining

GreenlandA large mineral discovery ignites anticipation in nearby communities for economic development, infrastructure investment and jobs as huge bulldozers, trucks and drills roll in. China, with trillions in US dollar reserves and voracious hunger for raw resources, hopes to entice Greenland’s 57.000 inhabitants into further loosening Danish rule in order to assist its drive towards the Artic resources. Such Chinese investment should theoretically help develop Greenland’s economy by increasing employment + living standards. But jobs and training goals seem an elusive dream. The mining industry relies on massive, expensive equipment supplied by a handful of foreign companies, controlled under tight maintenance contracts historically have not benefitted local parties. The development of skilled workers and supporting vocational education in Greenland must be well considered, as labor supply will eventually become constricted when more mining projects come online. Greenland is autonomous territory of Denmark with a limited self-government. In 2009, Greenland received considerable autonomy from Denmark and can make its own decisions in investment, except in areas of foreign policy and the national security. While self-government allows Greenland in principle to act alone, politically things are more complicated due to links and subsidies with Copenhagen. Denmark provides the bulk of budget revenue, and Greenland, historically a fishing region left undeveloped, holds vast deposits of gold, diamonds, zinc, platinum, nickel, iron, rare earth elements. With Social Democrats back in power under new, hardline Prime Minister Hammond, Greenland is considering mining contracts for iron ore even as it seeks quick departure from “colonial Denmark.” Denmark has supported and controlled Greenland for 300 years without profit, and may want to assess its long-term resource needs with Greenland, now more accessible due to better mapping technology and the effects of global warming on the Arctic ice sheet. But at what cost? Mining poses economic implications, described as resource curse: mining operations fail to lift indigenous communities, leave vast amounts of environmental damage in their wake, add little to government coffers when oversight is weak. Many government officials have no idea of leviathan technical and logistical issues involved with mining, even if they do, generally trust mining companies for the solutions. Nonetheless the mining business can contribute to the resource curse and impoverish societies, be it in Congo, West Virginia or Indonesia. The Isua iron-ore deposit, in southwest Greenland, near pristine fjords and bays, was discovered in 1965, first by Marcona Mining, and later controlled by the global mining entity Rio Tinto before being sold in 2005 to London Mining, listed on the London Stock Exchange, without production being started. The pristine site will most probably be strip-mined, according to London Mining, with vast areas of topsoil and ice cleared. Even underground mining could remove significant topsoil to set up buildings, conveyor equipment, and roads. Despite high EU unemployment, London Mining seeks to lead joint-venture using their technical expertise along with Chinese finance and labor in partnership with China’s Sichuan Xinye Mining Investment in Isua. 3.000 Chinese workers would be sent to Greenland for establishment phase, a contentious issue between London Mining and Greenland’s state resource today (…..)

Link: http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/china-targets-greenland-mining

Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

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