Greenland’s Farmers Torn Over Tapping Pristine Land for Mineral Riches

"QASSIARSUK, Greenland — Carl and Ellen Frederiksen gazed anxiously at a spot on the snow-flecked mountain behind their village. The sheepdogs had been running back and forth, and they feared a lamb was trapped on one of the slopes.

“This winter has been the toughest we’ve seen in 30 years,” Mr. Frederiksen, a farmer, said. He does not know how many of his 1,009 lambs born this year will come down from the mountain. So every lamb counts.

Sheep farming is among the main activities, along with fishing and skinning seals, in Greenland’s emptiest municipality, Kujalleq, with its population of 7,151 spread over more than 12,000 square miles. But that may soon change, as the area sits atop extraordinary mineral resources: gold, nickel and zinc, as well as the rare-earth elements that are used in smartphones, electric cars, precision-guided missiles and televisions. Kuannersuit, a mountain in the center of Kujalleq, is said to hide the second-largest rare-earth mineral deposit in the world."

Saskia De Rothschild reports for the New York Times September 6, 2015.

Source: NY Times, 09/09/2015