Creating a Prosperous and Inclusive Gemstone Industry in Greenland.

The Greenland government has an opportunity to maximise the economic and social benefits of its natural resources through an inclusive approach to gemstone mining, according to an independent report. Published by Fair Jewelry Action (FJA), a non-profit organisation promoting fair trade and ethical jewellery practices, and in support of the 16th August Union, a miners association campaigning to re-establish the rights of Greenlanders to collect gemstones in Greenland, the report highlights how the strategic inclusion of traditional mining rights to exploit Greenland’s gemstone resources would generate greater economic and social benefit for the country than by industrial mining alone.

A spokesperson for the 16 August Union, who did not want to be named for fear of reprisals said,

This report authentically highlights some of the human rights impacts due to the restrictions imposed on Greenlanders by the Bureau of Mines and Petroleum (BMP) mining act of 2009 and the ongoing ruby conflict with international junior mining companies from Canada. This report highlights the extreme under valuation of Greenlandic polished Rubies and Sapphires by the Canadian mining company compared to world market prices. The market branding of Greenlandic gemstones will also become an issue, because the large-scale mining company will proclaim ‘conflict-free ethical and ethnically correct exploitation’ despite that 100% of Ruby and Sapphire will be exported as rough material and generate hundreds, maybe thousands of jobs outside of Greenland and local people have been arrested, had there ruby confiscated and as yet the courts have not prosecuted any cases in over 5 years. Therefore ruby and sapphire from this company cannot be called ethical and ethnically conflict free Greenlandic products, these marketing rights should be prohibited and only be branded by gemstones polished in Greenland.

The report, entitled Creating a Prosperous and Inclusive Gemstone Industry in Greenland suggests that to take advantage of this opportunity will require the Greenland home rule government to reinstate traditional prospecting and mining rights to indigenous Greenlanders. It also highlights some of the historical injustices that have been perpetrated in the name of rubies and sapphires and how members of the BMP acted beyond their powers in ordering the arrests of local gemstone miners.

Samuel Lowe, lead researcher for the report states,

Coloured gemstone mining in Greenland is particularly suited to a complimentary approach whereby its resources can be exploited by both artisanal and industrial mining. However, unless the Greenland government reinstates mining rights to its people, the economic potential of its natural resources will not be fully realised.

 The report offers guidance on how the Greenland home rule government can provide institutional support for a future gemstone sector in Greenland, and at the same time become a leading example in respecting indigenous rights and promoting responsible environmental management.

Ian Doyle the co-author said,

Exceptionally high-grade gemstones require exceptional vision, and the Greenland government has the potential to be at the forefront of social innovation through a strategic approach to its gemstone sector.

With a foreword by Greg Valerio, international campaigner and activist for fair trade and ethical practices in the jewellery sector, highlights how Greenland ruby could represent the sought after ‘exclusivity factor’ of jewellery. He states,

Apart from being a nation changing product, a gem quality ruby or sapphire that enshrines the values of local community, responsible environmental small-scale mining, economic regeneration and human rights will be precisely the kind of gemstone the jewellery industry is looking to get behind. Surely this is what makes a gemstone precious?

 Creating a Prosperous and Inclusive Gemstone Industry in Greenland follows on from FJA’s 2011 report Uplifting the Earth: The Ethical Performance of Luxury Jewellery Brands, which received acclaim from the Centre of Studies on Sustainable Luxury.

Notes to Editors.

For a copy of Creating a Prosperous and Inclusive Gemstone Industry in Greenland click on this LINK

For press interviews and comments about FJA’s Greenland ruby campaign can be directed to Greg Valerio in the UK, Ian Doyle in the EU and Marc Choyt in North America.

For interviews with 16.August Union spokesperson please email Lars Schou at

16.August Union is a Greenlandic organisation run by local gemstone enthusiasts working for the citizen rights to freely collect alluvial gemstones and commercialize Greenlandic gemstones as to the former ‘common ownership’ principles of the citizens in Greenland.

Greg Valerio was the winner of the The Observer Campaigner of the year award 2011 [link]