In Greenland, important metals for electric cars are said to be available in large quantities. A project by two companies could threaten the arctic ecosystem.
Nuuk – The British mining company Bluejay Mining and the mineral development company Kobold Metals from the USA signed a joint venture agreement on Monday (08/10/2021). The stated goal is to find deposits of nickel, copper, cobalt and platinum on Greenland – important raw materials for the production of electric vehicles.
Kobold Metals relies on artificial intelligence and machine learning to track down such raw materials and wants to invest 15 million dollars in the project. The company is financially supported by an initiative by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. “Breakthrough Energy Ventures” was founded in 2015 to combat climate change and to stimulate research and the expansion of renewable energies, it said. Investors in this initiative include other billionaires such as Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, entrepreneur Richard Branson, co-founder of Alibaba Jack Ma, Ray Dalio and New York City’s former Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But there are significant scientific concerns about the Greenland Project.
Greenland: billionaires want to track down raw materials
Greenland is currently dealing with a sensitive issue. Because there is an abundance of raw materials on the largest island in the world, but the population has repeatedly voted against the expansion of mines. Kobold Metals explains that environmentally friendly mining is possible with the AI-based process. You develop high-quality ore deposits that require less intrusive methods of extraction. According to this, Bluejay conducts years of examinations to identify social and ecological potential for conflict.
The collected data should show that in the approximately 2897 square kilometer area near Disko-Nuusuaq in western Greenland, larger accumulations of metals are to be expected. More than 20 drill-ready targets have been identified for which Bluejay has licenses and other areas. These cost the company less than $ 700,000 in 2017.
The drilling targets are now to be refined. Kobold will initially provide $ 3.4 million in the geological and geophysical assessment of the area by the end of 2022. In stage two through 2024, the company will invest an additional $ 11.6 million in fifteen pre-agreed wells. In return, the company will receive 51 percent of the shares in this Greenland project. Upon completion of this second phase, Bluejay will finance the drilling in the remaining 49 percent of the area out of its own pocket.
Billionaires Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos invest in controversial project in Greenland
However, the venture could end in an ecological disaster, as researchers claim. “Basically, they’re right on the ocean,” says Jeffrey Welker, a professor at the University of Alaska who has studied the Arctic ecosystem for decades. “Potentially this creates some environmentally dangerous situations if this fjord is contaminated. Any disruption of the marine system by any activity could be catastrophic for the population, ”he told the news portal The Daily Beast.
The switch from fossil fuels to electric vehicles is considered to be groundbreaking when it comes to climate change. The batteries and chips in electric vehicles require raw materials such as lithium and cobalt to manufacture them. However, these are scarce – and the breakdown does not necessarily run smoothly. For example, the New York Times reported in May on a lithium mine in the US state of Nevada that is said to have polluted groundwater for three centuries, leaving “a gigantic pile of waste”. Even if the intention is good, the “new requirements of our clean energy could cause even greater damage,” says Aimee Boulanger, from an initiative for “responsible mining”. The environmental balance of electric vehicles remains controversial with regard to the extraction of raw materials.
“CO2 emissions have a global impact. If you open these mines in very remote areas, the effect is more local. But in these pristine places it will never be the same again, ”said science journalist Kevin Krajick, who mainly deals with diamond mining in the Canadian tundra, told The Daily Beast.
Search for rare metals in Greenland: environmental damage from mines feared
In addition, the NGO Amnesty International has documented numerous human rights violations in mines used by battery companies, such as child labor and unsafe working conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “The glamorous shop windows and the marketing of the latest technology are a stark contrast to the children carrying bags full of rocks and miners in narrow, handcrafted tunnels who risk permanent lung damage,” wrote a 2016 report by Amnestys Mark Dummett.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns of the consequences of climate change and calls out a red alert. Greenland is particularly hard hit by the climate crisis. Due to high temperatures, billions of tons of ice are currently melting every day.
It was not until the spring of 2021 that Greenland, with a population of 56,000, had a new parliament. The left-wing Inuit Ataqatigiit party emerged victorious – which is also reflected in the resolutions announced. As reported by the Canadian newspaper Nunatsiaq News, the government of Greenland plans to ban uranium mining. In addition, no new licenses will be issued for oil exploration off the coast. (lrg)