Melting Ice Caps Unlock Mineral Riches

January 23, 2014

 

While few people would argue that global warming is a process that needs to be curtailed, many areas of the earth that were previously ice-covered are now yielding a bounty of natural resources. Greenland is one country that expects to see tremendous economic gain due to the melting ice caps.

 

"We are one of the very few countries around the world where climate change is giving us benefits," Aleqa Hammonds recently told Reuters.

 

In the last year alone, some of the world's biggest natural resources exporters won exploration licenses in Greenland including Chevron, BP and ConocoPhillips. While Greenland's former colonial ruler, Denmark, objects to the rush to award exploration licenses and drilling rights, Greenland is pushing ahead with a plan that could create thousands of jobs and bring much needed capital to the country's economy.

 

"Climate change gives us a new chance to survive because our minerals become accessible so we'll adapt," Hammond said. "The self-governance act says all minerals belong to the people of Greenland.

 

And the people of Greenland are anxious to see those minerals mined. While many countries are vying for exploration and mining licenses and permits, some of the locals are concerned that foreign workers will be shipped in to meet demand. London Mining has plan to being mining iron in 2015 but part of their deal involves importing thousands of workers from a China, a move that does not sit well with people in Greenland looking for work.

 

Currently, Denmark gives Greenland $655 million per year to cover roughly half the country's budget. Greenland would very much like to distance itself from this welfare and be able to set up sovereign wealth fund to save cash for future generations. Norway does something similar with an $830 billion oil fund used to manage money made from oil exploration and drilling.

 

Though revenue from oil exploration is still probably a decade away, oil companies are looking everywhere they can for new supplies and Greenland will be under careful watch. Right now Greenland is well aware of how valuable its land is and they are being careful not to let other's come in, snatch the wealth and leave.

 

"I think this is going to be the biggest protection (domestic worker rules) for a small population that can become a minority in its own country very fast due to the riches the country has," Hammond said.