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Gold deposit in South Greenland

Since 1988 gold has been searched for in the Kirkespir Valley in South Greenland. The Kirkespir Valley is situated about 40 km northeast of Nanortalik, a town with c. 1500 persons. In 1992 NunaMinerals A/S discovered gold in a quartz vein eight km inside the valley. During 1993-2001 extensive geological investigations have been carried out by Nalunaq I/S, owned by the Canadian Crew Development Corporation and NunaMinerals A/S. These studies include diamond drilling of more than 13,000 m in 90 drill holes and a production of tunnels and raises of more than 3,000 m. The average gold concentration in the ore is above 30 g pr. ton, a high grade for a gold ore. The mining company expect to mine about 200,000 tons of ore annually, which is 3-4 times less than the annually amount mined in the Maarmorilik mine. More than 15 tons of gold with a value of c. 1.2 billion Danish crowns is estimated outcome of the mining project. During 2002 a Bankable Feasibility Study and an Environmental Impact Assessment will be prepared and evaluated. Following these studies the authorities will commence the approval procedure of a mining exploitation.

The Nalunaq camp in the Kirkespir Valley in Nanortalik municipality. The camp, situated eight km from the fjord, is viewed from a tunnel entrance at level 400. The Kirkespir Mountain, Napassorssuaq (1590 m), raises in the background. The photo is from July 2001. Photo: C. Glahder, DMU

Nalunaq I/S' plans to process the gold at the mine site in the Kirkespir Valley. Processing will include gravity separation and cyanide leaching. Cyanide is removed from the mine waste (i.e., tailings) before the final placement, either backfilled in the mine and placed on land behind dams, or as deep sea tailings placement on the sea floor a depths of about 300 m. It is estimated that the mine will produce a total of 2-5 million tons of tailings.

In 1988, DMU studied the Arctic char population in the Kirkespir River. It was concluded the population size was normal with about 5,000 migratory chars corresponding to a density of 0.1 char per m2.

Male Arctic char electrofished in the Kirkespir River in October. The study performed in 1988 concluded that the population was normal with about 5,000 migratory chars. This char was released to the river after its length was measured. Photo: C. Glahder, DMU

During 1998-2001 a series of environmental studies are performed in the area. Nalunaq I/S performed during 1998-99 six studies on chemistry and toxicology of the upper Kirkespir River water. In general, concentrations of metals and other substances were low both before and after tunnel driving. The toxicity tests on river water and water from tunnels and mine waste showed no acute toxic effects on Rainbow trout and Daphnia. Four environmental baseline studies have been performed by DMU and samples have been collected of e.g., Blue mussels, Brown seaweed, Shorthorn sculpin, Snow crab and a lichen species. When analysed, baseline concentrations are derived for different substances in these organisms, and this baseline level can be used to evaluate possible contaminations from the active gold mine. An interview study was performed in 2001 in the Nanortalik district with the purpose to describe the year round local use of the area for fishing, hunting, sheep rearing, gathering, tourism and recreation. Thereby possible conflicts of interest between local users and the mining activities can be addressed and mitigated. The most important natural resources in the area around the mine site are three Arctic char populations and a recent Snow crab fishery.

For the moment (late 2001) the following studies are under way: An oceanographic study aiming to describe the year round fjord currents, annual water flow measurements in the Kirkespir River and a number of laboratory tests on the mine waste.

Johannes and Katrine Nielsen from Nanortalik are interviewed about fishery and hunting in the district by Tanja Nielsen, interpreter. The interview study was performed during March-April 2001. Photo: C. Glahder, DMU

The gold deposit and the environmental studies are described partly in the Danish DMU report no. 38/2001:

The interview study is described in the Technical report no. 384/2001:

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