You have to be there

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The battle to get the attention of the international mining companies is hard. In October, Minister (Naalakkersuisoq) for Finance and Mineral Resources, Anda Uldum, visited China Mining in China to promote Greenland’s mineral resources.

Text & Photo: Martin Christiansen, greenland today November 2015

China Mining & Expo Conference is held in Tianjin, a few hours’ drive from Beijing. The chairman of the China Mining & Expo Conference started with a short opening speech and presented the other speakers, among them Anda Uldum, who is Minister (Naalakkersuisoq) for Finance and Mineral Resources in Greenland.

The audience consisted primarily of mining companies and investors. It is a large gathering consisting mainly of men who are all dressed in dark suits with matching ties. The trade show has representatives from 53 different countries and there are over 8,000 visitors. This makes China Mining one of the biggest mining trade shows in the world.

The Greenlandic Minister of Mineral Resources delighted the audience by starting out in Chinese with »Nîmenhân«, which means »Welcome to everyone«. The rest of his speech to the international public was in English and contained a clear message that Greenlandic minerals are worthy of attention.

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Tour
The conference was the first stop during a couple of intensive days in the »Middle Kingdom«, where Anda Uldum had meetings with representatives of the Chinese government and the mining and mineral business community. During the busy programme he found time to visit the trade show’s two Greenlandic stands: Greenland’s Department of Minerals and Petroleum and Xploration Services, which offer a wide range of services to mining companies in connection with projects in Greenland.

– You cannot underestimate the importance of being there. There is sharp competition to gain the favour of the investors and mining companies, because there are many other countries that want to attract them. Therefore, it is necessary to take part in the trade shows, if you want to come into contact with the companies, explained Anda Uldum and stressed that it requires a lot of hard work to get results.

– It requires an enormous number of conversations before a contract can be signed. It can often take several years from the first meeting with a company, before actual exploration for minerals takes place in Greenland.

According to the minister, only a minority of the companies that work with Greenland’s minerals get so far as to start an actual production. This is why it is important to attract as many mining companies as possible.

For the same reason, Greenland attends mineral and mining trade shows all over the world each year to promote interest for the country’s mineral resources. In addition to the trade show in China, Greenland also takes part in Toronto in Canada and Perth in Australia.

Network
Afterwards, Anda Uldum met with the Australian company Ironbark Zinc. For the last seven years they have looked for lead and zinc at Citronen Fjord, 1,400 kilometres north of the Northeast Greenlandic town of Ittoqqortoormiit. In August this year the company submitted an application which has subsequently been sent out for public hearing. In addition, citizens meetings will be held in the towns that are expected to be affected.

Also at the meeting was Qin Junman, vice president in the large Chinese construction and engineering company, NFC, which could provide assistance during the project’s construction phase.

In the dialog with the company’s director, Jonathan Downes, many subjects were discussed, among them the practicalities of hearings and he asked about a series of regulations that must be adhered to.

Anda Uldum answered the questions and at the same time urged the company to conduct an active communications policy with regard to the public. He said that it is important to establish an informative home page in all relevant languages, which provides continuous information about the project. And it would be good to employ a person to undertake external communication. Visible local roots will strengthen the project with relation to the public.

He said that it is a huge advantage that all the mining and mineral companies come to the trade shows. It means that meetings can be held with the companies that are already involved with Greenland and it is possible to build a network with new companies and organizations.

Greenland’s Minister for Minerals believes that the trade shows are a good and practical way to maintain contact with the companies.

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Political agreement in 2016
A short cut to contracts in China takes place at political level. A large part of the business community and the communist party are intertwined so it moves things along to have talks with representatives of the political system.

In the town’s beautiful representation house »Tianjin Guest House« Anda Uldum met with China’s Minister of Minerals, Jiang Daming. The meeting took place in an enormous meeting room, where China’s Minister of Minerals and his officials received their Greenlandic colleague. At an earlier visit, China and Greenland investigated the possibility of signing a so called Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). It is a non-binding agreement where representatives in the field of geology from the two countries meet to exchange know-how and experience. During the meeting, China expressed the desire to sign such an MoU, and it was agreed that an agreement will be signed in connection with next year’s China Mining.

– It is very positive that China is prepared to sign an MoU. It is a huge step in the right direction, stated Anda Uldum.

Before the meeting ended, there was the mandatory exchange of gifts and business cards. It is part of the business culture in China to exchange gifts and tell a short story about the gift. The gift is often of modest value, it is the thought that counts. And when you receive a business card you take it with both hands and read what is says, before you hand over your own business card.

Back to the future
After the visit in Beijing it took a couple of days to travel back to Nuuk. Here, the Minister (Naalakkersuisoq) for Finance and Minerals, Anda Uldum, and his officials will follow up on the many contacts and inquiries they received during the visit. Perhaps this year’s participation in the China Mining & Expo Conference will lead to the realisation of a new mining project in the future. Who knows?

OMSLAG_25   Read the article on page 51-52