Greenland revokes Chinese firm’s iron mining permit

Chinese President Xi Jinping sings the national anthem during a reception at the Great Hall of the People on the eve of China's National Day in Beijing on September 30, 2021. (Photo by GREG BAKER / AFP)

Greenland has withdrawn an iron ore mining licence from a Chinese firm in the vast autonomous Danish territory, the local government said Wednesday.

Now-bankrupt British company London Mining had been awarded the contract in 2013.

But Hong Kong-based General Nice Group acquired the permit a year later when it bought the assets of the British firm after it went bust.

Greenland’s minerals ministry said the licence for exploitation on a site some 150 kilometres (93 miles) north of the capital Nuuk near the Polar Circle had been “returned to the government”.

“There will later be a process for tender of the area for new licences,” it said in a statement.

A permit renewal had been refused over “lack of progress to date on an exploitation plan… and over the holder not transferring funds to the guarantee deposit account”, the government added.

It demanded the Chinese firm return all geological data linked to the site, clean up the area, and pay the outstanding 1.5 million kroner ($226,000).

Many have eyed the massive natural riches of Greenland, an island covering two million square kilometres (772,200 square miles) that is larger than Mexico. But few projects have been approved.

The island is now home to two mines: one for anorthosite, whose deposits contain titanium, and one for rubies and pink sapphires.

Greenland’s local government is not opposed to all mining.

But the ruling left-wing party in power since April has banned all oil exploration and uranium mining over concerns for the climate and the environment.

Greenland obtained ownership of its mineral reserves when it gained self-rule in 2009.

It has long hoped its mineral riches might one day help it cut its financial umbilical cord to Copenhagen.

© Agence France-Presse