This rare earths explorer says Greenland’s a prime jurisdiction – if you’re not mining uranium
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The new Government of Greenland is cracking down on uranium mining, and the future is uncertain for Greenland Minerals’ (ASX:GGG) Kvanefjeld project.
The behemoth rare earths (REE) project has a resource of >1 billion tonnes including light RE magnet metals neodymium and praseodymium and heavy RE’s terbium and dysprosium – which would be fine if it didn’t also include uranium.
Investors now wait with bated breath for the outcome of the public consultation period which has been extended until 13 September 2021.
If the project doesn’t go ahead, it could be a heavy blow for the EU’s long-term plans to source more rare earth materials for the production of green technology like wind turbines to electric cars from politically stable Western-aligned countries.
But it’s not the end of the road for rare earths in Greenland.
The future looks bright for explorer Eclipse Metals (ASX:EPM) which discovered a 50-year-old historic drill core with REE potential at the Gronnedal-ika area of its historical Ivittuut cryolite mine.
The core catalogued six diamond holes where historical exploration has identified anomalous rare earth element content, but the area hasn’t been systematically explored so the company believes there’s potential for untapped REE.
Executive chairman Carl Popal said he’s confident that company will have no issues proceeding with the project in Greenland, with the company securing approval to commence fieldwork in July.
“It’s their country, they’ve decided to run it in a certain way, and for us, we respect them, we’re there as a commercial entity, we’re trying to extract natural resources for the greater good, for our shareholders, and they need it for their economy,” he said.
“We don’t have any uranium there, and we don’t have any issues in that regard.”
Minerals identified within the complex to date include apatite, monazite, stronianite and synchysite which host light rare earths (LREE), as well as zircon and monazite which host heavy rare earths (HREE).
Gronnedal is recognised as one of the prime REE targets in Greenland by the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) along with Kvanefjeld and Kringlerne (owned by Tanbreez).
“We’ve just started in Greenland on the rare earths but there’s a lot of potential – and there’s a lot of academic work that tells us that we’re in the right jurisdiction,” Popal said.
“GEUS classifies Gronnedal in the highest standards for rare earths within that area and, on top of that, we’re fortunate to have the Ivittuut site which has got the tailings, the ore in the pit, the cryolite-fluorite and most importantly, the quartz inside the pit.
“Greenland has a lot of potential from our perspective for developing a project, like Ivittuut, we’re so close to Europe where industrial minerals are in high demand.
“The additional bonus of the rare earth is separate play and gives us an edge in the rare earth market.”
Projects like Ivittuut won’t be coming online for a while yet, and this could present opportunities for Australian rare earths projects in the supply chain.
Heavy hitters Lynas Rare Earths (ASX:LYC) and Iluka (ASX:ILU) already play a big role, and CSIRO principal research scientist Dr Chris Vernon said that Kvanfjeld’s bad news is good news for Australian projects.
“Things like Arafura Resources’ (ASX:ARU) Nolan’s has a heavy dose of neodymium and praseodymium, Dubbo zirconium are doing marvellous things at the moment through Australian Strategic Materials (ASX:ASM) and the partnership with Korea,” he said.
“Northern Minerals’ (ASX:NTU) Browns range just got another lot of dysprosium in the deposit, similar with Hasting Technology Metals’ (ASX:HAS) deposit which isn’t far away, and there’s something new Australian Rare Earths (ASX:AR3) has turned up at the Koppamurra deposit in South Australia.
“So, it’s an Australian company that’s losing out there in Greenland, but it is a positive thing for Australia because it does shine more light on our projects.”
Dr Vernon said it’s now just a question of getting those projects funded and operating.
Dr Vernon also said that Australian projects are in an excellent position to supply countries with sophisticated appreciation of environment, social and governance issues (ESG).
“Australia’s one of the more transparent, more environmentally aware, most socially aware jurisdictions – and you can’t say that about all mining jurisdictions in the world,” he said.
“With the way that Europe and European legislation is changing, we have the ability to guarantee source of supply and how it got to them in terms of how we processed it, how fairly we pay our workers, how much damage did we do the environment.”
Compare this to China where having nearby borders with Myanmar and other countries has led to illegal production being unofficially imported – evading environmental and social regulations.
“Our ability to put our hand on our heart and prove what we’ve done is going to be very strong attribute for us in the future,” Dr Vernon said.
Check out how other ASX listed rare earths players stack up.