Chairman Gunnar Moe in LNS Greenland pointing out rubies set in the day. FOTO: LNS
Trial production will hopefully start this month, said Frode Nilsen, administrative director of the development company LNS.
"We have not set any date, but as long as winter does not get out of hand it will be shortly," Nilsen said.
The ruby-rich Aappaluttoq mine is located on the southwest coast of Greenland about 160 kilometers south of the capital Nuuk. The nearest settlement is Fiskarnæset, 30 kilometers away as the crow flies.
The Aappaluttoq mine is located on the southwest coast of Greenland, about 160 kilometers south of the capital Nuuk. FOTO: Google maps
"The logistics have been a challenge, but now both camps are standing, there are roads and the workshop is ready," he said. "Things have mostly gone as planned. The only surprise was last winter when a boat sank on its way from the mine to Nuuk. Fortunately it went well with everyone on board."
400 million carats
Rubies are one of the rarest and most expensive gems in the world, well known for their hardness and the beautiful red color that is suitable for jewelry.
Nilsen indicated the presence of the gems in Aappaluttoq is enormous.
"This will be the world's largest ruby mine where they are taken out of solid rock," he said. "The most common is to extract them from the soil."
The initial estimate for the deposit to be mined is 400 million carats of rubies and sapphires, or 80,000 kilograms. Sales potential for the gems is sky high, potentially reaching high up into the billions.
"The price for rubies and sapphires can vary between two to 18 dollars per carat [0.2 grams - ed.]," he said. "Sometimes it may be much higher, depending on the quality of the stone. We think it will be an awesome project when we get it properly underway."
The goal is currently nine years of operation, but with the possibility of many more if all goes as planned.
"The license is for 30 years," Nilsen said. "Then we must either renew it or risk losing it."
Over nine years, the plan is to recover 400 million carat rubies and sapphires from the deposit. One carat equals 0.2 grams in general. FOTO: LNS
"We will be the best in the international ruby
market, where it is not always a 'clean business"
The northern-based LNS Group acquired Greenland Mining Service in 2012 and changed the name to LNS Greenland (LNSG). Along with the Canadian company True North Gems they formed a new company called True North Gems Greenland (TNGG).
That is the mining company that owns the rights to the ruby mine, while LNSG as the building contractor will perform all the mining production and infrastructure services for TNGG.
The project is described as part of LNS' polar region focus due to its many years of experience in Svalbard through its subsidiary LNS Spitsbergen.
"We will be the best in the international ruby market, where it is not always a 'clean business,'" Nilsen said. "But we will have that."
Gems and rare minerals have throughout history cost many human lives, and funded a series of wars, rebel groups and repressive regimes.
So-called blood diamonds helped reduce the West African countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia to rubble during the 1990s and 2000s.
Burma, among other countries, is notorious for blood rubies that are extracted using slave labor. Conflict minerals are typically smuggled out of the country and onto the international market without the capability to trace them back to their origin.
This is how we are used to seeing the rubies. FOTO: Christopher Engås
"We are on top when it comes to legitimate business and there is a quite sophisticated system that allows the gemstones to be traced back to us," Nilsen said. "We have also committed being social responsibile so that Greenlanders get their fair share. So far, more than 90 percent of the employees are from Greenland."