The Black Angel lead and zinc mine near Uummannaq.
      The Black Angel lead and zinc mine near

  A selection of facet-cut rubies and pink sapphires from Fiskenæsset.
      A selection of facet-cut rubies and pink
    sapphires from Fiskenæsset.

Mining used to play a secondary role in the Greenlandic community, but in the future the many raw materials and energy resources are expected to increasingly contribute to Greenland’s economy. Greenland has considerable raw material deposits, but until now commercial exploitation has been limited by the rough natural conditions and difficult access.

In the past cryolite was mined in Ivittuut (1865-1987), coal at Qullissat (1924- 1970), marble, zinc, lead and silver at Maarmorilik (1965-1990) and zinc at Mestersvig (1956-1963).

There are plans to reopen the mine at Maarmorilik in 2008 and there is currently mining of gold (Nalunaq in Nanortalik), olivine (Fiskefjord in Maniitsoq) and rubies (Fiskenæsset).

However, the international interest in the search for raw materials and energy is increasing and a number of minerals may prove of economic interest in the future, including offshore oil fields by Nuuk on the west coast of Greenland, in Jameson Land in East Greenland and in the inaccessible waters along North West and North East Greenland. In addition, there has been great interest in the possible deposits of gold, niobium, tantalite, uranium, iron, molybdate and diamonds.

Greenland’s first major hydroelectric plant is located in Buksefjorden south of Nuuk. It was completed in 1993 and has an effect of 30 megawatt. The power is led to Nuuk on pylons crossing two fjords, including the Ameralikfjord with the world’s longest free span of 8.8 miles (5,376 meters). A 1.2 megawatt plant was inaugurated at Tasiilaq in East Greenland in 2005 and a 7.2 megawatt plant at Qorlortorsuaq near Qaqortoq in South Greenland was inaugurated in 2007. There are other good opportunities to harness water power and, among other things, a 15 megawatt plant is being planned by Lake Tasersuaq near Sisimiut for launch in 2010 along with several new plants intended mainly for supplying energy for large-scale raw material processing. The first project is the supply of energy to a possible aluminium production plant currently planned at Maniitsoq.