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Ahead Of The Herd Interview; Richard (Rick) Mills

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Richard (Rick) Mills
Ahead of the Herd

 

As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information

 

Aheadoftheherd: Rick could you give us some basic facts regarding Greenland, an introduction if you will.

 

Rick: Greenland is the largest island in the world, its located in the North Atlantic Ocean adjacent to the Canadian arctic archipelago. About 84 per cent of Greenland is ice cap but there’s an ice-free zone around the ice that’s up to 300 kilometers (kms) wide.

 

We’re talking an area of about 410,000 km². Just to give your readers a reference as to how big an area that actually is, Germany is 357,000 km².

 

AOTH: Greenland’s been making news over the last while about being one of, if not the last, frontiers for resource extraction. How prospective for discovery is this immense area?

 

Rick: Very. As I mentioned just over 80 percent of Greenland is covered by the ice sheet, the exposed area suitable for mineral exploration and project development  forms a fringe around the coast.

 

These non ice covered coastal areas are simply an extension of the Canadian Shield so Greenland’s geology is continuous with that of Canada and includes:

  • Archaean cratons - potential for diamonds, gold, REE
  • Palaeoproterozoic mobile belts - potential for base metals, PGE’s, gold and tantalum
  • Lower Palaeozoic sediments - potential for base metals
  • Carboniferous Cretaceous sediments - potential for coal
  • Lower Tertiary intrusive complexes, the Skýrgaard intrusion being the most important in terms of gold and PGE potential

AOTH: The geology is the same as Canada’s north, are working conditions?

 

Rick: I would say they are very similar. You are working in the north, summers are cool, short and there is a lot of daylight, winters are long, cold and dark. Exploration programs cannot be run in either area when its deep winter. Miners of course mine year round.

 

Canada’s north has major highways with secondary road access into many areas and its possible to permit road construction. The area that’s non-accessible via the current road system is immense and that necessitates winter roads, occasionally river barges and a lot of fly in camps.

 

Greenland doesn’t have a highway system to speak of, people live in towns on the coast or further up the fjords, so they mostly travel by boat, planes and helicopters. Travel by sea is possible throughout the year from Nanortalik, in the South, to Sisimiut in the north west, these ports have a year round shipping season.

 

Travel from Sisimiut to sites further north doesn’t start till May, at the earliest, because of ice, although climate change is playing a role here with sea ice disappearing at an advanced rate.

 

AOTH: In Canada’s north mostly everything is done by road/air and in Greenland everything is done sea/air.

 

Rick: In Greenland, if you are working in the southwest part of the country, you are never far from year round open deep sea water, meaning a sea port, or the possible future site of a rough loading dock, tie up for a couple of barges and deep water anchorage for a freighter.

 

I believe this is a huge advantage, let’s call it like it is, exploration is exploration, sure one area might be more expensive then another but so what? The main consideration factor is what are you going to do if you actually find something and this is the advantage sea borne freight has over road transport – cost.

 

AOTH: Access to the sea puts the world’s smelters, end users, middlemen etc at your fingertips. But sea transport also lowers your upfront development costs and capex/opex when it comes time to build and run your mine.

 

Rick: Yes. If you are in the interior of Canada’s north you need to road transport your product, usually across vast distances, to get it to a railhead or port, sometimes utilizing both a railway and ocean freighter to get it to a smelter. Of course the reverse order applies when you are doing exploration and development.

 

Transport distances in Greenland from your project site to open water are usually very short, we’re talking maybe tens of kilometers with some projects much closer versus road transport measuring hundreds of kilometers in Canada’s north.

 

The more complicated, the more time consuming, the greater the distances, the more players, or pieces if you will that are involved makes it that much more expensive.

 

AOTH: Something you mentioned regarding the sea ice is interesting, is global warming opening up Greenland for exploration?

 

Rick: Yes, but not in the way many think. The ice cap is up to three kilometers thick in places, it may be melting a little around the edges and on top but if you wait for land to open up from that you’ll be sitting for a while.

 

As I said you can travel by sea throughout the year from Nanortalik, in the South, to Sisimiut in the north west, these ports have a year round shipping season. With the continuing disappearance of the sea ice its possible more of the fringe along the coast will become accessible for longer periods of time.

 

That’s what’s going to offer increased opportunity in Greenland.

 

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