The former Ivittuut cryolite mine in south-western Greenland. Credit: File
ASX-listed Eclipse Metals has received a green light from the Greenland governmentto commence initial exploration fieldwork at Ivittuut in the country’s south-west, enabling it to get boots on the ground next month at what was oncer the world’s only commercial source of cryolite. Exlipse aims to compile a JORC-compliantresource and also assess the rare earths potential at Ivittuut.
…Ivittuut is the world’s largest source of naturally occurring cryolite, an extremely rare sodium aluminium fluoride mineral used exclusively in the extraction of aluminium from bauxite. Cryolite additionallly hax uses in pesticides and fireworks.
Besides Ivittuut only minor deposits of cryolite have been reported in some areas of Spain, in Colorado, USA, at the Falcon Quarry near Montreal in Canada and in Miask, Russia, but none of these are consiodered commercial grade.
The Greenland town that bequeathed the mine its name is located near the morosely named Cape Desolation at the very tip of southwestern Greenland on the ruins of a former Norse settlement. Ivittuut’s cryolite deposit was discovered in 1799 and the veins surrounding silver-bearing lead were mined by the British before silver production became uneconomical. Danish engineers began mining the cry0lite itself in 1859 and in 1864 a Danish company was granted a monopoly license for its extraction. These early mines simply processed the cryolite for its aluminum content and for sale to the Pennsylvania Salt Manufacturing Company that used it to create caustic soda.
1884 establishment of the Hall-Heroult Propcess that was dependent on cryolite dramatically improved the extraction of aluminium from bauxite ore and increased the deposit’s strategic importance. The Ivittuut mining operations were a major factor in the American occupation of Greenland during World War II. After World War II, the mining of the cryolite was mined by the Danish to help to help fund the establishment of today’s Air Greenland…