Aarhus Universitets segl

New course on environmental impacts of Arctic mineral resources exploitation

Collaboration between universities spiced with industrial contributions awaits students at new course on environmental impacts of Arctic mineral resources exploitation (course number 11830).

Photo: Peter Bondo Christensen

Much debate is taking place on the pros and cons of Arctic mineral resource exploitation. One thing everybody can agree upon is that the development calls for educated operators at all levels. To meet needs of authorities, consultants and operators; a new master course on environmental impacts and prevention of Arctic mineral resource exploitation is launched at DTU this fall.

The course is being developed and taught in close collaboration between Center of Arctic Technology (ARTEK) - DTU and Arctic Research Centre/Department of Bioscience - Aarhus University (AU).  AU contributes within fields they have explored for decades in Greenland in research and as consultants; including impact assessment, ecosystem sensitivity, and regulation issues. AU will also teach oil spill contingency, while ARTEK contributes with mine waste characterization and technical aspects on methods to lower environmental effects of land based mining. In addition e.g. GEUS, DMI and experienced companies contribute with guest lectures.

The curriculum is build on some of the central skills that are needed to produce and evaluate an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of a mineral recourse activity - with special focus on Arctic activities: In two case studies based on an oil exploitation drilling and a land-based mine, the students are to produce small Environmental Impact Assessments in groups and give each other feedback in a hearing process. Throughout the course, special attention is paid to the principles of Best Available Technology (BAT); and to illustrate technologies available for e.g. drilling, tailings handling and water treatment guest lectures will be given by relevant companies.

By funding from the oil company Capricorn Energy, who donated DKK 420,000 to ARTEK from their educational fund as part of an Impact Benefit Agreement with Bureau of Minerals and Petroleum in Greenland, when obtaining license for the 2011 round of oil exploration drillings in Greenland, the course development and teaching through 2014 has been made possible. On top of that, the Danish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Higher Education through University of the Arctic (UARCTIC) recently donated 500,000DKK for development of e-based teaching material, to make the course available for students from all UARCTIC member universities, and integrated in the developing Nordic Master Program “Nordic Mining School” from 2015. With this funding we wish to make some unique virtual field trips to mining sites and offshore installations in the Arctic: sites which normally are rather inaccessible.

The course will start Friday the 6th of September 2013. For more information view the course description http://www.kurser.dtu.dk/11830 or contact course responsible: Pernille Erland Jensen pej@byg.dtu.dk; and Janne Fritt-Rasmussen jafr@dmu.dk.


UArctic is a cooperative network of northern universities, colleges and other organizations dedicated to education, research and the promotion of indigenous and local capacities and sustainable development in the circumpolar North. Both ARTEK and AU are among the more than 130 member institutions.