Rare Earth Element (REE) exploration potential and projects in Greenland

Holger Paulick, Diogo Rosa, Per Kalvig

Publikation: Bog/rapportRapport (offentligt tilgængelig)


This report aims to provide a comprehensive overview for the exploration industry, investors and others in need of knowledge about geology, Rare Earth Element (REE) deposits, ongoing activities, and a possible scenario for the production of REE from Greenland. In conjunction with the increased awareness regarding the potential of raw material supply criticality there has been a significant increase in global REE exploration. Consequently, the REE potential of Greenland has attracted significant attention in recent years and, overall, the known Greenlandic Total Rare Earth Oxide (TREO) resources have increased from 10.4 Mt TREO in 2011 to 38.5 Mt TREO in 2015.

Today, most of the existing global production of REE is based on exploitation of the REE ore minerals bastnäsite, monazite, xenotime, and loparite. However, REE exploration has recently also focused on new geological REE occurrence types containing previously unconsidered REE silicate ore minerals such as allanite, eudialyte, fergusonite, and steenstrupine. This is because of their elevated heavy REE/light REE ratios making them a potentially highly valuable resource. In Greenland, two of the largest REE resources are associated with REE silicates.

The current understanding of Greenland’s REE potential is based on more than 50 years of research activities and exploration by private companies. This knowledge base was synthesised during an assessment workshop in 2010 organized by the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS) and the Greenlandic Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum (BMP, now Ministry of Mineral Resources [MMR]), following the guidelines developed by the United States Geological Survey for assessing undiscovered global resource endowments. The aim of the workshop was to evaluate the potential for undiscovered REE resources in Greenland. The workshop assessed 35 tracts, defined by geological features, encompassing alkaline intrusives, carbonatites, pegmatites, palaeo-placers and areas with potential for Iron-Oxide Copper Gold mineralisation that may carry REE resources as a byproduct.

Greenland's most promising REE deposits and occurrences are linked to alkaline intrusions in the Gardar Province (South Greenland) and the Gardiner Intrusive Complex (East Greenland) as well as carbonatite intrusions in West Greenland (e.g. Sarfartoq, Qaqarssuk, Qassiarsuk, and Tikiusaaq). Importantly, there is also one occurrence of a REE palaeoplacer deposit in East Greenland (Milne Land) and one REE mineralisation in West Greenland that is strongly linked to hydrothermal processes (Niaqornakavsak, Karrat area). Currently, eight companies hold licences dedicated to REE exploration (19 licences with a total of approximately 3,200 km2).

In this report, geological descriptions of the known Greenlandic REE deposits are presented following deposit type categories. The most important known REE deposits are the world-class Kvanefjeld and Kringlerne deposits both part of the Ilímaussaq Complex of the Gardar Province (South Greenland). Current resource estimates are 673 Mt of ore for the Kvanefjeld deposit (average grade 1.10% TREO) and 4,300 Mt of ore for Kringlerne (average grade: 0.65% TREO). Furthermore, the Motzfeldt Alkaline Centre in the Igaliko Nepheline Syenite Complex (eastern Gardar Province) contains several REE mineralisations with one resource defined at 340 Mt of ore yielding 0.26% TREO. Carbonatite intrusions have also been a focus of recent exploration and a resource has been defined at the Sarfartoq deposit (West Greenland, 8 Mt grading 1.72% TREO).

Furthermore, the principles of the Greenlandic exploration and mining licence permitting system are described, which includes regulated steps such as submission of a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and public hearings. An application for a mining licence has been submitted for the Kringlerne deposit by the private company Tanbreez Mining Greenland A/S in 2013. The mining licence application for the Kvanefjeld deposit is anticipated in 2015 according to announcements by the project owner Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd. If both projects initiate mining according to current plans, it is possible that an annual Greenlandic REE production of 26,000 tonnes TREO could be realised from around 2018.
ForlagVidencenter for Mineralske Råstoffer og Materialer (MiMa) - GEUS
Antal sider52
ISBN (Trykt)978-87-7871-409-1
StatusUdgivet - 31 maj 2015


NavnMiMa rapport


  • Greenland


  • Programområde 4: Mineralske råstoffer


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