Eldur Olafsson

The mining company aims to make its strategic mineral exploration operations an industry showcase in Greenland and around the world. Shanny Basar reports.

While Greenland made headlines in 2019 when former US president Donald Trump said he wanted to buy the island, today the Danish territory is making news as a source of valuable strategic minerals, including copper, zinc and graphite.

To capitalise on Greenland’s mineral wealth, Canada-headquartered Amaroq Minerals is focused on identifying, acquiring, exploring and developing gold and strategic mineral assets. Its principal asset is a 100% interest in the Nalunaq Project, an advanced exploration stage property with an exploitation licence including the previously operating Nalunaq gold mine.

Eldur Olafsson, founder and CEO of Amaroq, launched the company in 2017 when there was very little investment in the mining industry. “When we started out in Greenland, we were going against the tide,” he says. “It has taken a long time for that tide to turn, but it is changing now that the world is facing a massive shock in supply.”

The supply of strategic and rare earth minerals needed for renewables technology is a recognised bottleneck for the transition from hydrocarbons, while the dominance of Russia and China in this area is also seen as a growing threat. As Mr Olafsson says: “If you don’t have enough minerals, you can’t become green.”

Market listing

The main stock markets for junior mining companies are in Toronto, Sydney and London. Toronto has a higher uptake of pure exploration companies, whereas London wants cash flow to support exploration and dividends, says Mr Olafsson. He adds: “In 2017, when we listed in Canada, we weren’t ready for London.  But by 2020, we were ready to start our first project, Nalunaq.”

Amaroq started trading on Nasdaq First North Growth Market Iceland on November 1, 2022, and was the first mining company listed in Iceland. As a result of its previous listings in Canada and the UK, Mr Olafsson believes the process to list in Iceland was easier for Amaroq than for a company going through its first listing.

The company chose to work with two of the largest banks in Iceland, Arion Bank and Landsbankinn, for the listing primarily because they had shown interest in Greenland’s potential. “They did a very good job for us, and we managed to run a book that was oversubscribed in a very challenging market as this was the period when [then UK prime minister] Liz Truss was resigning,” he says.

At the same time, Amaroq completed an accelerated bookbuild in both Iceland and the UK, raising £15m in each country. Mr Olafsson says most of the investors in Iceland were family offices, because the bookbuilding required quick answers. He believes that Amaroq could still gain many shareholders from pension and mutual funds.

New financing

In June 2022, before the new listing and the share sales, Amaroq announced a non-binding term sheet with resource investor Acam for an £18m private investment to acquire 49% of a joint venture (JV) to accelerate exploration across its significant strategic mineral prospects. Amaroq wanted the market to know the heads of terms with Acam before the listing, and successfully raising capital finalised the deal conditions.

The JV was formed because Amaroq was initially launched to create a gold mine when it was called AEX Gold; the company changed its name last year as the majority of its licences now cover strategic minerals.

to transition to renewables you need to invest in strategic minerals

Mr Olafsson describes Amaroq as a growth company with a focus of getting the first mine into cash flow, which will serve as a base to help explore four to five areas. It aims to start operating its first mine this year and hopes to be cash-flow-positive within the next three years.

In March, Amaroq announced it had signed non-binding term sheets for a $49.5m senior secured debt financing package, to bring forward production at Nalunaq, including an $18.5m revolving credit facility with Icelandic banks Landsbankinn and Fossar Investment Bank. Alongside the financing, Amaroq said it intends to explore the possibility of a main market listing on Iceland’s Nasdaq Exchange in due course.


Mr Olafsson acknowledges that mining has been an underperforming investment for most portfolios in the past decade, so investor exposure to the sector is very low. In addition, many mines around the world have legacy issues as they are old and were built to different environmental standards, some of which are now unacceptable.

“I can see that the situation is improving and the largest funds around the world are now looking at mining, and understanding that to transition to renewables you need to invest in strategic minerals,” he adds.

In order to overcome investors’ environmental, social and governance concerns, Amaroq wanted to operate using the best practices in the mining industry. Mr Olafsson aims to make Nalunaq a mining showcase both in Greenland and around the world. “People need to understand where these minerals come from and how they are mined,” he says.

Amaroq’s long-term strategy involves building clean energy infrastructure, which will remain in Greenland over the long term, and the company has also started to plant forests to promote habitat expansion for local wildlife.


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