Denmark and Greenland reach uranium export agreement

20 January 2016

An agreement has been reached between Denmark and Greenland on how they will cooperate on foreign, defence and security policy issues related to the mining and commercial export of uranium from Greenland.

The island of Greenland introduced a zero-tolerance policy concerning the mining of uranium and other radioactive elements in 1988, while under Danish direct rule. It took a step towards greater autonomy from Denmark in 2009 with the official transition from 'home rule' to 'self rule'. This saw Greenland assume full authority over its mineral and hydrocarbon rights, which had formerly been overseen by Denmark. However, Greenland remains part of the kingdom of Denmark and its defence and foreign policies are still determined by Copenhagen.

In October 2013, Greenland's parliament voted to remove the ban on the extraction of radioactive materials, opening up the possibility for companies to begin mining uranium and rare earth minerals.

Yesterday the governments of Denmark and Greenland reached agreements concerning the export control and security of uranium and other radioactive substances from Greenland and the definition of competences in the raw materials sector.

According to a statement from the government of Greenland, "The agreements establish concrete cooperation between Denmark and Greenland, ensuring that Greenland can continue its efforts to expand its mining whilst the kingdom complies with international obligations and lives up to the highest international standards."

"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," the statement noted.

Greenland's minister of industry, labour and trade, Randi Vestergaard Evaldsen, said, "Overall the agreements ensure that, if at a later time the extraction of uranium as a by-product is allowed, it can be used solely for peaceful and civilian purposes."

She added, "It is a matter which has been very carefully prepared in a good and constructive cooperation between Denmark and Greenland and which is based on the joint recommendations of the uranium report from 2013."

The Danish government will introduce legislation on safeguards and export controls to parliament in the coming months. Concurrently, the draft laws will be will be introduced to the Greenland parliament for consideration.

Australia's Greenland Minerals and Energy completed a feasibility study for its Kvanefjeld uranium and rare earth element project in southern Greenland in May 2015. In November, the project received pre-hearing approvals from the government of Greenland and has moved into the permitting phase. The government also approved the terms of reference setting the agreed initial development strategy for Kvanefjeld.

Greenland Minerals and Energy last June formally announced JORC-compliant maiden ore reserves for the Kvanefjeld project. Total ore reserves of 108 million tonnes contain uranium at 362 ppm U3O8, comprising 43 million tonnes of proven reserves with 352 ppm U3O8 (12,834 tU) and 64 million tonnes of probable reserves with 368 ppm U3O8 (19,970 tU).

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News