Regulatory Issues - North America
(last updated 9 Nov 2021)
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> See also: Denmark
Greenland's new coalition government postpones decision on uranium mining over differences
The new coalition between Siumut, Inuit Ataqatigiit and Partii Naleraq postpones decision when it comes to the parties' large fundamental disagreement - the extraction of uranium.
In the coalition agreement, entitled 'Equality, Security, Development' the three parties find that Siumut is for the extraction of uranium, while the other two want to stick with Greenland's original No.
(Sermitsiaq Oct. 27, 2016)
Denmark's legislature passes legal framework allowing Greenland to export uranium
Danish lawmakers passed a bill today (June 3) establishing an inspection regime for dual-use products. The law applies to all exports, be it software, computer equipment or other form of weapons technology, that could be used to produce nuclear weapons, but its main concern is Greenlandic uranium.
Passage of the law comes a day after the Folketing (Denmark's parliament) passed another bill, this one setting up guidelines for an inspection system that will keep tabs on Greenlandic uranium from the time it leaves the ground until it reaches a processing plant abroad in the form of a refined powder known as yellow cake.
In passing the laws, Denmark, which, since 1985 has banned nuclear energy production, assumes responsibility for Greenland's exports of uranium, clearing the way for its sale abroad.
Prior to the vote in the Folketing, Inatsisartut (Greenland's parliament) on May 25, approved four bills, including signing on to nuclear non-proliferation agreements, something Denmark did in 1968, when Greenland had the status of county.
(Arctic Journal June 3, 2016)
Denmark and Greenland agree on uranium export deal
Denmark and Greenland have signed an agreement regarding the future commercial export of uranium located underground in Greenland, reports Finans.
According to the foreign minister, Kristian Jensen, the two countries reached an agreement after a "prolonged discussion" on Tuesday (Jan. 19).
Greenland will have the right to extract uranium, while Denmark will be responsible for what happens to it when it is extracted, explained Jensen.
(Copenhagen Post Jan. 20, 2016)
> Download: agreement and related documents (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, Feb. 1, 2016 - in Danish)
> See also: New uranium deal between Denmark and Greenland clarifies competences (DIIS comment, Feb. 1, 2016)
Proposed change of mining law to abolish citizens' rights
Environmental organizations are raging over the Naalakkersuisut (Greenlandic government) amendment in Mining Law that abolishes the right of the public in matters relating to uranium mining and other mining.
The four environmental organizations Avataq , The Ecological Council , Noah and Renewable Energy warn against this controversial decision, that in violation of the Aarhus Convention will reduce public access to environmental information, their involvement in decision-making, and their access to judicial verification and complaint time, they write in a joint press release.
(Sermitsiaq AG July 9, 2014)
Greenland's government policy on possible compensation of mining companies for uranium ban remains confidential
A key question in the debate over the uranium ban has been whether the Autonomous Government risks having to pay compensation to companies that have spent millions of kroner on exploration and now face the prospect of being denied mining permits because of the new ban.
The issue will only be finally settled in court if a mineral company chooses to take the government to court. The government has prepared for that situation, should it happen.
In a reply to Demokraatit chairman Jens-Frederik Nielsen, minister for raw materials, Naaja H. Nathanielsen (IA), states that legal assessments of the uranium ban have been carried out by the law firm Poul Schmith, but that the assessments will not be released on the grounds that they may be used in a future court case.
(Sermitsiaq Dec. 2, 2021)
Greenland Parliament approves bill prohibiting uranium exploration and mining
On Nov. 9, 2021, the law on uranium bans in exploration and extraction was voted through by a slim majority in [Greenland's parliament] Inatsisartut.
With the law, the Naalakkersuisut [Greenland's government] can also close the door in for exploration of other raw materials if the average content of uranium in the total resource is over 100 ppm.
(Sermitsiaq Nov. 9, 2021)
Greenland opens public consultation on bill banning uranium exploration and mining
The Ministry of Raw Materials has submitted a proposal to the Inatsisart Act on a ban on prospection, exploration and exploitation of uranium.
Submit comments by August 2, 2021.
> View: Consultation of proposals for the Inatsisart Act on a ban on prospection, exploration and exploitation of uranium (in Danish)
> Download: Bill proposing ban on prospection, exploration and exploitation of uranium (MS WORD - in Danish)
Demonstration for referendum on Greenland's uranium policy in Nuuk
Between 75 and 100 people participated Thursday (May 19) in a demonstration in central Nuuk in connection with the second reading of two uranium-proposals in Greenland's parliament Inatsisartut on Friday (May 20).
The proposals from Steen Lynge (A) and from Inuit Ataqatigiit both request referendums related to the extraction of uranium.
In the parliament session of May 20, both proposals were voted down by the coalition parties.
(Sermitsiaq May 20, 2016)
Greenland's former zero-tolerance uranium policy only a delusion?
New research performed by Gry Thomassen of the Danish Institute for International Studies in the National Archives, confirms that Greenland had never adopted a zero-tolerance towards uranium and other radioactive raw materials.
So, the waiver of this policy, issued by Greenland's parliament in a controversial vote in 2013, was unnecessary.
(Sermitsiaq Oct. 12, 2015)
Majority wants referendum on Greenland's uranium policy
There is a majority of the population that there should be a referendum on whether Greenland needs to extract uranium. This shows a Sermitsiaq opinion poll on public attitudes to the seven selected election themes. The opinion poll was conducted by HS Analysis for Sermitsiak.
(Sermitsiaq Nov. 22, 2014)
Greenland opposition calls for referendum on uranium policy
Greenland's hotly contested reversal of a national ban on uranium mining last year remains a divisive issue in the country's on-going general-election campaign.
During a televised debate this week, Siumut, led by acting premier Kim Kielsen, said it continued to support the relaxed mining regulations, and that it would seek to begin negotiations to set a limit on uranium concentrations.
IA, the largest opposition party, says it prefers putting the issue to a referendum.
"We are also in favour of setting a maximum limit, but we feel the people should be asked," Sara Olsvig, the IA leader said.
(Artic Journal Nov. 6, 2014)
Greenland parliament lifts zero-tolerance uranium policy
In a 15 - 14 vote, Greenland's parliament Inatsisartut lifted the 25-year old zero-tolerance uranium policy.
(Sermitsiaq Oct. 24, 2013)
Demonstrations in Nuuk for and against proposed lifting of zero-tolerance uranium policy
Hundreds of upset citizens marched Wednesday (Oct. 23) in Nuuk on uranium mining in this country: the demonstration in Nuuk organized by the interest group 'Naamik qujaannarpunga' (no thanks) was backed by hundreds of citizens who oppose Naalakkersuisut's principle motions to lift the zero-tolerance policy towards uranium and other radioactive minerals in mineral extraction.
On Wednesday night (Oct. 23), the Progressive Party Nuuk organized a torchlight procession in support of the abolition of zero tolerance towards uranium that is being voted on Inatsisartut today Thursday (Oct. 24).
The demonstration was attended by about 400 - 500 people.
(Sermitsiaq Oct. 24, 2013)
Partii Inuit dismissed from Greenland's government for not supporting proposed lifting of zero-tolerance uranium policy
The Premier Ms Hammond from the Progressive Party has fired Partii Inuit. The reason is that Partii Inuit does not support the repeal of zero tolerance towards uranium and other radioactive substances in mineral extraction.
This was announced by Ms Hammond during a news conference Wednesday night (Oct. 23, 2013).
(Sermitsiaq Oct. 23, 2013)
Demonstration in Qassiarsuk against proposed lifting of zero-tolerance uranium policy
People in Qassiarsuk, located about 50 kilometers from Kuannersuit (Kvanefjeld), fear for the village's future in the event of pollution caused by Inatsisartut's (Greenlandic Parliament) adoption of the repeal of the zero tolerance policy towards uranium and other radioactive minerals in mineral extraction.
Residents are insecure because they have not been informed of the consequences of the decision.
Therefore, there was a demonstration against the uranium plans on Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 23).
(Sermitsiaq Oct. 23, 2013)
Greenlandic Parliament debates proposal for lifting zero-tolerance uranium policy
After nearly five hours of heated debate during the first reading on Thursday (Oct. 10), Inatsisartut (Greenlandic Parliament) referred the proposal for lifting the zero-tolerance uranium policy to the Natural Resources Committee. The second reading will be held on Oct. 24, 2013.
(Sermitsiaq Oct. 10, 2013)
Demonstrations in Nuuk and Narsaq against proposed lifting of Greenland's zero-tolerance uranium policy
Just over 100 protesters braved the chilly weather in Nuuk Tuesday (Oct. 8) and marched in protest against the abolition of the zero-tolerance policy towards uranium and other radioactive minerals as by-product of mineral extraction.
(Sermitsiaq Oct. 8, 2013)
About 25 people braved the weather gods in Narsaq Tuesday and marched against Naalakkersuisut's (Greenlandic Government) uranium policy.
(Sermitsiaq Oct. 9, 2013)
Greenland may not export uranium without Denmark's consent, report says
Greenland has no right to export uranium without the consent of Denmark, concludes a yet unpublished new report.
- When we speak of uranium, or when we talk rare earths, it is something that should be covered by joint agreements (between Denmark and Greenland, ed.). It is also agreed in the joint report, we have made, says Foreign Minister Søvndal (SF) to ABC News after a three-hour meeting of the Foreign Policy Committee today.
(DR Oct. 2, 2013)
> Download: Rapport om udvinding og eksport af uran , Arbejdsgruppen om konsekvenserne af ophævelse af nul-tolerancepolitikken, Oktober 2013 (1.7MB PDF - in Danish)
Greenland's government proposes consultative referendum on zero-tolerance uranium policy
Naalakkersuisut (Greenlandic Government) expects shortly to receive an application for an exploitation license of rare earths in Kuannersuit (Kvanefjeld) at Narsaq. The government now proposes to Inatsisartut (Greenlandic Parliament), that a consultative referendum be held in South Greenland before any decision is made on the application.
(Sermitsiaq Sep. 13, 2013)
> Download: Opening speech of Premier Aleqa Hammond on Sep. 13, 2013 (PDF - in Danish)
Protest with drum dance against proposal to abandon zero-tolerance uranium policy
Maintain the zero tolerance policy towards uranium as a by-product of mineral extraction.
That was the clear message to Naalakkersuisut (Greenlandic Government) at an event Wednesday (Sep. 11) afternoon in Nuuk, where the attendees braved the rain. Both experienced drum dancers and some without much experience took drum and expressed their protest in their own way.
Politicians from IA (Inuit Ataqatigiit) with party chairman Kleist also took the opportunity to show their dissatisfaction that Inatsisartut (Greenlandic Parliament) plans to treat the Naalakkersuisut proposal to repeal the highly controversial zero tolerance policy towards uranium as a by mineral extraction in the autumn session.
(Sermitsiaq Sep. 12, 2013)
On Friday (Sep. 13) the beginning nine-week autumn session of the parliament was greeted with a demonstration against a repeal of the zero-tolerance uranium policy.
(Sermitsiaq Sep. 13, 2013)
Greenland's zero-tolerance uranium policy to be abolished in October 2013
Greenland's self-government (Naalakkersuisut) may soon begin processing applications for use of uranium-bearing minerals. This can be achieved by adopting the abolition of zero-tolerance towards uranium, which is expected to be completed during Greenland Parliament's (Inatsisartut) autumn session. This was announced by Greenland's Minister for Raw Materials Jens-Erik Kirkegaard in reply to parliamentary questions.
(Sermitsiaq June 26, 2013)
> Download: Government's proposal to lift the ban on uranium mining, Aug. 8, 2013 (PDF - in Danish)
NGOs appeal to keep Greenland's zero-tolerance uranium policy
48 environmental organizations from many countries are encouraging the Greenland Home Rule Government and the Danish Government to maintain the uranium zero-tolerance policy in the commonwealth. Both have recently indicated that they want to lift the ban on uranium mining in Greenland.
Therefore, Avataq , NOAH Friends of the Earth Europe and the Ecological Council initiated this resolution to the minister chairperson, Ms Hammond and Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt.
The resolution calls on Naalakkersuisut and the Danish Government to maintain the uranium zero-tolerance policy in the commonwealth. Uranium mining is unnecessary, since it is possible to recover the rare earths at other places, where they do not come together with uranium.
(Sermitsiaq Apr. 27, 2013)
> Download Statement on uranium mining in Greenland , April 26, 2013
Greenland plans to relax zero-tolerance uranium policy
Greenland's incoming Minister for Food and Raw Materials Jens-Erik Kirkegaard plans to relax the tolerance threshold for uranium in mined ores from 60 to 1000 grams per tonne (from 0.006 to 0.1 weight-percent). This means a green light to extract rare earths from all known deposits in Greenland.
(Sermitsiaq Apr. 2, 2013)
Denmark ready to allow mining and export of Greenland's uranium
A majority in the Danish parliament is prepared to allow the mining and export of uranium in Greenland, as wished by Greenland's self-government.
After 25 years of opposition to nuclear power and uranium contamination, a majority in parliament for the first time is prepared to repeal the so-called zero tolerance policy for uranium.
If Greenland requests, the possibility is thus opened to the mining of the world's fifth largest uranium reserves at Kvanefjeld, located in southern Greenland.
(Politiken Jan. 26, 2013)
Denmark and Greenland establish commission to assess the impact of lifting the zero-tolerance uranium policy
The governments of Denmark and Greenland on Wednesday (Nov. 21) established an expert group to prepare a report until next spring highlighting both major political and more tangible consequences of a relaxation of the zero-tolerance policy.
(Sermitsiaq Nov. 21, 2012)
[...] while it is up to Greenland whether to mine for uranium, the Kingdom of Denmark has responsibilities and obligations under international treaties and agreements concerning uranium. It is currently uncertain how allowing uranium mining would affect these responsibilities, which is why the two governments have established the commission to map these international obligations.
(Copenhagen Post Dec. 5, 2012)
Greenland relaxes zero-tolerance uranium policy for exploration licenses
On Sep. 10, 2010, Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd announced that an amendment has been made by the Government of Greenland to the Standard Terms for Exploration Licenses that allows for the inclusion of radioactive elements as exploitable minerals for the purpose of thorough evaluation and reporting.
Municipal council of Southern Greenland backs end of zero-tolerance uranium policy
On May 12, 2010, the municipal council of South Greenland voted in favour of a change from the zero-tolerance uranium policy. The council has put forward an invitation to the legal assembly of Greenland to change regulations from the current zero tolerance uranium policy to a byproduct-policy with a maximum concentration limit for uranium of 0.1%.
(Greenland Minerals and Energy Ltd May 26, 2010)
New government of Greenland upholds ban on by-product extraction of uranium
Naalakkersuisut's (Greenlandic Government's) uranium policy is unchanged and thus not any decision has been taken on changing the zero-tolerance which has been in existence since the 1980s, premier Kuupik Kleist said. This means that some projects can not be implemented because of the high by-product content of uranium.
(Sermitsiaq avis June 24, 2009)
Greenland parliament allows by-product recovery of uranium
A majority in parliament agreed to support the extraction of uranium as a by-product from mines where other minerals are the primary target.
Siumut, Atassut and the Democrats all support easing the country's 20-year-old 'zero tolerance' policy regarding uranium mining. Inuit Ataqatigiit and Kattusseqatigiit are both opposed to the proposal.
(Sermitsiaq avis Nov. 27, 2008)
Inuit advocate against uranium mining in Greenland
Greenland's environment should come before profits from mining, a leading Inuit spokesperson told American broadcaster CBS.
The president of the Inuit Circumpolar Council in Greenland believes mining companies should not be permitted to remove uranium from Greenland's underground, under any circumstances.
'Why should we spoil our nature and our people's health,' Aqqaluk Lynge told CBS News.
The Greenlandic and Danish parliaments banned uranium mining over two decades ago, but the question has arisen after some mining companies requested permission to extract uranium obtained during the mining of other types of metals.
Lynge said that with the intensifying hunt for natural resources in the Arctic meant the country needed to be careful not to get caught up by dreams of quick riches.
'We're in the same situation Arctic peoples in Alaska and Canada have already been through. We need to be careful with our environment, especially since climate change could change much of it.'
(Sermitsiaq avis July 31, 2008)
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