UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Rare-earth mining and sovereign statehood in Greenland : ‘Sustainable engagement’ with extractivism at Kvanefjeld Carvajal Gamboa, José Ricardo


Climate change in the Arctic has precipitated intense speculation about the ecological, economic, political, and socio-cultural futures that await the region of the world most affected by climate change. In Greenland, a mining proposal at the Kvanefjeld geological site has animated local debate since 2009 when the nation re-gained control over its subsoil rights from Denmark. Revenue from the mine, proponents argue, would offset the island’s dependency on Denmark and, thus, serve as a concrete step towards their eventual independence. Opponents, however, warn against the possibly catastrophic ecological, social, and political consequences of mining at this site. As a case study, Kvanefjeld offers insights into the local and situated knowledge making processes that inform policy making and risk-management in the Arctic region. This thesis familiarizes the reader with a fast-changing policy-issue and, simultaneously, offers a study of the production of expert knowledge in Greenland. To this end, this project outlines the national, regional, and international dynamics that interplay with this mining controversy and shows how these, in turn, are used by Greenlandic actors to leverage their positions for, and against the proposed mine. Throughout, I argue that despite the specificity of the case study, attention to how contextual local and regional politics interact with policy relevant knowledge is informative to audiences interested in the emerging field of polar economic geographies and the social life of policy relevant expert knowledge.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International