Arctic Yearbook 2014 - Page 264

264 Arctic Yearbook 2014 largest city with about 1,200 inhabitants. Qullissat was an innovation centre and the birthplace of the Greenland trade union movement, as well as a cultural centre for music and politics. In this context, it is key that the Greenlanders were a very large part of the workers in the mine, and that there was a community adjacent to the mine attractive even for citizens who did not work in the mine. This shows a historical example of mining in Greenland successfully combined with an attractive community with great diversity. The closing down of the settlement of Qullissat by the Danish government in 1972 was not a success. The closure was based on the low grade of the coal. In addition the easily accessible resources had been extracted and as Qullissat had no port, coal had to be lightered out to the ships that sailed it to Denmark. Another key factor was that Polish and South African coal was cheaper, making world prices crucial for the decision. The decision was made without consulting the locals, and people experienced it as a decree. Inhabitants of the community were forcibly relocated, scattered along the Greenland coastline. This decision became a politicizing factor in Greenland and was an important political mobilized leading to the Home-Rule in 1979. Exploring Alternative Strategies – Flexible Settlements Based on the experiences from earlier mining projects, Greenland faces a number of challenges of an economic nature in relation to education and work force recruitment for new large-scale industries. The experiences indicate that the idea of inland migrant workers commuting to mining accommodations and staying for 3-4 weeks followed by a week or two at home, does not look very promising nor realistic. This points to a large need to re-consider the dominant localization and mining policies. Instead of following the dominant trend with temporary migrant workers living in barracks and working hard without a family, the government and administration should look for alternative ways of linking settlements and large-scale industrial and mining projects. These should cater to the daily lives of families with ‘normal’ working hours and a social life related to the livelihood of workers families and open to a combination of both employments in mining with periods of e.g. traditional hunting practices. This is not to be seen as an argument against increased mining, as there may be good reason to increase the country’s revenue base through the exploitation of mineral resources. It is mainly a question of how the new activities are implemented in terms of securing a socio-economic and socio-cultural sustainability. Flexible Mining Related Settlements As an example, Arctic engineering students from Sisimiut in 2012 have investigated a potential mine on the east coast of Greenland at Kangerlussuaq, midway between Ittoqqortoormiit (Scoresbysund) and Tasiilaq (Ammassalik). Earlier there was a settlement at Kangerlussuaq, which was closed during the Danish Government’s efforts to centralize the population. Kangerlussuaq is one of the best fishing and hunting spots in the Ammassalik district, and every summer around 30 families sail the 300 km up to Kangerlussuaq, where they camp and hunt, among other species, narwhals and polar bears. With both mining activities and local fishing and hunting the combination of habitat and Hendriksen, Hoffmann & Jørgensen