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Internship highlight: Ethan Barnes with Bluejay mining (Greenland)

Oh the places you’ll go! – my Greenland exploration experience

“So be sure when you step, step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s a great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.” Dr Seuss. – Oh the places you’ll go!

Flying into Ilulissat over the famous UNESCO listed Icefjord, an icy passage home to thousands of icebergs calved off the Greenlandic ice sheet, reality began to set in. My dream to visit and work in Greenland started many years ago before SINReM or starting my career as a geologist. Dramatic mountains, grand fjords, barren landscapes, whales and icebergs – I couldn’t be further away from my roots growing up in outback Australia.

I would undertake this 3 week field campaign with Bluejay Mining plc at the Disko-Nuussuaq magmatic massive sulphide Ni-Cu-PGM-Co project in east Greenland. Managing a field crew, we completed 1,100+ soil samples for Mobile Metal Ions (MMI) and Soil Gas Hydrocarbons (SGH), both methods testing for trace elements brought to the surface from buried ore deposits.

While Greenland is a geologically and politically favourable jurisdiction, having the SINReM lens it becomes apparent that projects in Greenland face many logistical and environmental challenges. The remoteness is costly and accessibility low. With a limited field season, optimising exploration activities and the adoption of new novel technologies is essential. Low environmental impact methods are a necessity as the artic tundra is extremely vulnerable to activity. Greenland as a society are ready and open for exploration and resources extraction. It is critical that companies coming into the region demonstrate stewardship and accountability like that demonstrated to me by Bluejay. With challenge comes opportunity and as metal scarcity increases, and ore deposits in known provinces become harder to find, the appeal of Greenland will continue to grow.

I would like to thank Bluejay for the ‘vacation’ to Greenland inclusive of hiking, geologising, camping, boat cruises and helicopter flights. I say this with tongue-and-cheek, for as the saying goes “Do what you love and you will never work a day in your life”. I hope to return to Greenland for the next field season and be apart of the team that finds an ore deposit.

For those geologists thinking about applying for the SINReM master’s program, I can only recommend it. Society demands more from natural resources industry and being a traditional geologist is not enough. As first boots on the ground, it is imperative more now than ever that we adopt innovative technologies and look for low societal and environmental impact methodologies. These aspects plus a holistic view of the raw materials chain serves as the foundation for the SIReM Masters. Do this and “Kid, you’ll move mountains.”

Ethan Barnes, SINReM student