Greenland to get its first ruby and sapphire mine
Government grants approval for facility near a tiny village south of the capital Nuuk
Greenland’s government has given the green light to a plan by True North Gems (TNG) to establish a ruby and pink sapphire mine at Aappaluttoq in southwest Greenland
“We can now look forward to moving ahead with the construction and production phases of the project," said company head Nicholas Houghton in a statement. "Today's approvals are a true testament of the hard work and co-operation exhibited by both the government of Greenland and the company.”
The process of assessing environmental and other impacts on the surrounding area has taken nearly a decade
The plan approved by the government established the framework for the production, site reclamation and construction of mine facilities. It also outlined health and safety requirements for workers, environmental guidelines and project infrastructure.
Gems and jobs
TNG promised that all Greenlandic communities and the economy as a whole would benefit from the Aappaluttoq mine, saying that they were committed to “bringing direct employment and training whilst developing new skill sets and supporting the growth of secondary industries”.
“I am very pleased that the project can move forward with the prospect of new job creation, business opportunities and income to the Greenland society,” said Jens-Erik Kirkegaard, Greenland’s minister of industry and mining.
Asii Chemnitz Narup, the mayor of Sermersooq, also expressed pleasure at the prospect of new jobs in the council.
"True North Gems is committed to employing local workers,” said Narup. “This will benefit our community and especially the settlement of Qeqertarsuatsiaat."
The closest village to Aappaluttoq is tiny Qeqertarsuatsiaat with just over 200 inhabitants. It lies about 150 kilometers south of Nuuk and is accessible by boat or helicopter.
The major environmental impacts of the mine will occur in a lake near the site where waste from the mining process will wind up and in Nuuk where the mined gems will be cleaned using hydrofluoric acid. There are as strict requirements for handling and disposing of the highly corrosive acid. Low intensity blasting will be used to get at the gems.
The name of the main ruby mining area translates, ironically, as ‘Red Mountain’.