Geology and Ore 20, 2011

The rare earth element potential in Greenland

Supply of rare earth elements (REE) is complex. REE deposits are geographically unevenly distributed and the content of individual REEs varies from deposit to deposit; some deposits only containing a few of the REEs in demand. Greenland is endowed with several large REE deposits, related to various geological settings. Several projects have reached advanced stages of exploration. Additionally, Greenland also holds geological terrains favourable for hosting undiscovered REE deposits, as concluded in a recent REE workshop.

Introduction

Demand for REE is growing rapidly due to innovation in the so-called ‘green technologies’, electronic devices, defence systems and petroleum refining catalysts. The global requirement for REEs in 2010 was 134,000 t, with global production around 124,000 t. The difference was covered by utilising previously mined reserves. Global demand is projected to rise to 180,000 t annually by 2012, and for neodymium, dysprosium, europium, terbium and yttrium in particular, forecasts show that supplies will become critical. In response to this rising global demand, Greenland has experienced a strong international interest over the past decade in search of new REE deposits. The fact that Greenland is endowed with geological environments favourable to hosting REE accumulation makes Greenland attractive to the REE exploration industry. On this background the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) and the Greenland Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum (BMP), conducted a REE potential workshop in 2010 to provide the REE mineral exploration sector with the scientific background and necessary data to make qualified decisions. This magazine highlights some of the results from this workshop.

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