Kåre Hendriksen, Birgitte Hoffmann & Ulrik Jørgensen
The key question of the paper is how to plan and organize mining projects in Greenland in ways that involve local workforce and develop business as well as settlement potentials. The paper outlines a concept of flexible settlements with the aim to build a socio-economic sustainable future for Greenland.
A major contemporary challenge for Greenland is its economic deficit and dependency on state support from Denmark, to maintain its living standard. The evolving decoupling between existing settlements and the main export industry based on marine living resources re-enforced by new mineral extraction based on a workforce that is working temporarily at the mining sites poses a threat to employment in Greenland. At the same time, attracting mineral resource based industries is key to overcome the economic challenges. Mining companies envisage potentials for a fast extraction of the resources using immigrant and migrant labourers that work intensively while living in temporary quarters. The historic experiences of Greenland tell that a different, slower exploitation of mineral resources may contribute to social improvements and competence-building thereby providing long-term improvements for the Greenlandic society. This point to a need for plans and the organisation of mineral exploitations that operate based on coupling local settlements and resources with mining and other forms of activities. This demands new perspectives on the content of social impact assessments as well as new criteria for the planning of settlements and infrastructures.