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No. 333: Environmental baseline audit results from Kvanefjeld REEs, U and Zn project

Hansen, V., Asmund, G. & Larsen, M.B. 2019. Environmental baseline audit results from Kvanefjeld REEs, U and Zn project. Exploration activities 2007-2017. Audit: 29 August to 5 September 2017 by DCE and GINR. Aarhus University, DCE – Danish Centre for Environment and Energy, 34 pp. Scientific Report No. 333. http://dce2.au.dk/pub/SR333.pdf


Violeta Hansen from DCE - Danish Center for Environment and Energy, Gert Asmund from (DCE) and Morten Birch Larsen from Greenland Institute of Natural Resources (GINR) did an environmental audit at the Kvanefjeld from 29 August to 5 September 2017.

Since 2007, Greenland Minerals and Energy Limited (GMEL) have conducted exploration activities at the Kvanefjeld - a Rare Earth Elements (REEs), uranium (U) and zinc (Zn) project in Southern Greenland. GMEL have conducted baseline environmental monitoring at the Kvanefjeld. Baseline monitoring activities included external dose-rate monitoring, passive radon and thoron monitoring, real time radon and thoron gas monitoring, radon daughter monitoring, dust monitoring and analysis of some selected non-radioactive and radioactive elements in dust and environmental samples. Polonium-210 has been analysed in a number of biological samples and radium-226, radium-228 and lead-210 have been analyzed in a small number of water samples. The extent of monitoring varied from year to year since 2007 to present. GMEL sampling locations included the Kvanefjeld plateau, Narsaq town, the farm situated roughly halfway between Narsaq and the Kvanefjeld and the area between Narsaq and the Kvanefjeld. The monitoring was conducted during the summer and winter months and monitoring reports was submitted to EAMRA (Breheny 2012a, 2012b, 2014).

During the audit, DCE measured the gamma dose rate in Narsaq town, between Narsaq and Kvanefjeld and at Kvanefjeld. In order to verify GMEL’s environmental baseline studies, the following environmental samples were collected by DCE and GINR as part of the audit:

  • Freshwater from Narsaq River, Taseq River, Kvane River, Lake without name and its outlet and old Risø mine outlet.
  • Drinking water from Kukasuk, Napassup Kuva and Landnamselven.
  • Fjord water at 0 m (surface water) and at the depth of 30 m from the GMEL proposed discharge point of liquid effluents.
  • Biota samples such as lichens, blue mussels, seaweed, arctic char (trout).

The collected environmental samples were transported to DCE laboratory in Roskilde and analysed for non-radioactive contaminants by using an ICP-MS and radioactive contaminants by alpha spectrometry. The results are included in this report. This is the second audit report for the Kvanefjeld project by DCE and GINR.

In general, DCE’s results of analysed baseline samples from Narsaq/Kvanefjeld are comparable with GMEL reported results in previous years for similar samples. This report include for the first time results of uranium (U), thorium (Th) and polonium-210 (Po-210) levels in drinking water from Narsaq. Background gamma dose rate in Narsaq town and radioactive elements in the analyzed herein samples (except lichens) are not elevated and are comparable with baseline values elsewhere (Vesterbacka P. 2005, 2007). Levels of Po-210 (680 Bq/Kg d.w.) in lichens collected from Narsaq are higher when compared with levels of Po-210 in lichens collected from Denmark and Sweden (200 Bq/Kg d.w.) (Persson and Holm 2011). High levels of F and non-radioactive elements including also REE are reported in water and biological samples collected from Narsaq.