Geology and Ore 34, 2023

Critical raw material resources in Greenland

Critical Raw Materials (CRMs) are materials that have a large economic importance in industry and whose supply has a high risk of disruption. As such, these can be considered essential to society, namely as the building blocks for our green and digital economy.

The Center for Minerals and Materials (MiMa) under the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) has reviewed the CRM resource potential of Greenland. This highlighted the Gardar alkaline province in South Greenland as an exceptional accumulation of CRMs. This is documented by the known rare earth element deposits, some also hosting very signifcant lithium, fuorite, tantalum, niobium, hafnium and/or zirconium resources, namely the very large deposits at Kvanefeld/Kuannersuit, Kringlerne/Killavaat Alannguat and Motzfeldt. East Greenland stands out by hosting the very large Malmbjerg molybdenum deposit and the large platinum group metals, gold, titanium and vanadium Skaergaard deposit, both related to Palaeogene intrusions, as well as the very large evaporitic Karstryggen strontium deposit. Additionally, and due to its relatively underexplored status, East Greenland can be considered to still hold a signifcant potential for yet undiscovered deposits of these commodities.

Furthermore, this area also holds a signifcant potential for granite-related tungsten, tin, and antimony, as well as sedimentary copper mineralisation. The West Greenland Palaeogene Province is thought to hold a large potential for conduit-type nickel-copper-cobalt-platinum group metals mineralisation. West Greenland also hosts the large feldspar deposits at Majoqqap Qaava and Qaqortorsuaq and the large rare earth element and phosphorus Sarfartoq deposit. The Palaeoproterozoic terranes in West, South and East Greenland, have a substantial potential for hosting undiscovered deposits of graphite, exemplifed by the large Amitsoq deposit in South Greenland. The Thule black sands province, in North West Greenland, holds a signifcant titanium endowment, illustrated by the Moriusaq deposit. Finally, the Palaeozoic Franklinian Basin of North Greenland has a very signifcant potential for zinc and lead deposits, from which gallium and germanium can be possible by-products.


Mineral resources are essential raw materials for the development and progress of modern society and, particularly, the transition to a low carbon society will require signifcant quantities of metals and other materials. Although recycling will increase and cover part of the future raw material needs, presently there is only a limited stock of secondary sources to draw from, which means that the expanding demand for new green technologies is expected to be met predominately through access to primary resources.

Many factors afect the criticality of mineral resources such as geological, technological, geopolitical, and economic factors, and various defnitions of mineral criticality have been suggested. Although there is no standard method to assess mineral criticality there is general consensus that raw materials are considered critical if they simultaneous are (i) important to societies’ needs, (ii) subject to a signifcant supply risk, and (iii) there is a lack of (viable) substitutes. This means that what is considered critical is both dynamic, and varies from country to country, depending on their resource endowment and the structure of their raw material consuming industries. Consequently, there are considerable diferences between what is critical for China, Japan, USA, or Europe.

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