Fact sheet 2, 2002

​Early mining activities in South Greenland

Locations and history

Mining in Greenland has long been an important element in the exploitation of the country’s natural resources, and the mining tradition extends far back in time.

Exploration for minerals was introduced in the 1700s and 1800s, although it was of course on an extremely modest scale in comparison with present standards. Exploitation of the mineral ores increased at the start of the 1900s, when the cryolite mine in Ivittuut was increasingly active in southern Greenland, where there had been mining operations since 1854. An attempt to mine copper in the area had been made in 1850s, at the so-called Josva Copper Mine. Inadequately known quantities of ore, simple technology and a number of ship losses were significant reasons why the copper mine had to be abandoned at that time.

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