Building local competences to meet mining activities – strategies based on experiences from Greenland and Island

Ulrik Jørgensen, Rasmus Gjedssø Bertelsen, Kåre Hendriksen

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference abstract for conferenceResearchpeer-review


Mineral extraction in the Arctic is seen as a key to overcome future shortages of raw materials and local economic challenges in northern regions. Governmental strategies aim at building competence in governance and a local workforce that can be employed in mining industries and related businesses. However many mining companies envisage potentials for a fast extraction of the resources using immigrant and migrant laborers that work intensively over a period of time while living in shantytowns. Past Greenland experiences with this type of work organization is not particularly positive. Experiences from Island demonstrate that is a long haul to build competences beyond local service activities.
In preparing for large scale mining activities legal, social and environmental impact assessments are mandatory and needed for the public, political decision making concerning licenses for the initiation, operation as well as closing down of mines. These impact assessments are embedded in wider socio-technical regimes framing the conditions for operation and the ways mining is integrated into the development of knowledge, skills, economy and social living conditions and practices. EIA and SIA have predominantly been based of norms and practices handled by international consultants and the specific topics lack important impacts related to the speed of economic exploitation and the options for social and educational development for the local population. International experiences also demonstrate that the legal and ownership condition for operation are crucial for the economic and developmental outcomes of mining operations in small societies with only limited regulatory capacity and economic strength.
The paper explores these basic conditions for mining operations based on historic and contemporary examples from Greenland and Island. The paper deals with the challenge of how to organize mining projects to involve the local workforce and establish new concepts for flexible and sustainable settlements.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventMining in the Arctic - The 2014 Thorvald Stoltenberg Conference - Kirkenes, Norway
Duration: 7 Oct 20148 Oct 2014


ConferenceMining in the Arctic - The 2014 Thorvald Stoltenberg Conference


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