Geology and Ore 5, 2005

The Blyklippen lead-zinc mine at Mesters Vig, East Greenland

In 1948, galena-bearing quartz veins were discovered on the west coast of Mesters Vig by members of the Danish Expeditions to East Greenland (Lauge Koch Expeditions). This initial discovery led ultimately to mining at nearby Blyklippen, where a total of 545,000 tons of ore with 9.3% Pb and 9.9% Zn was produced between 1956 and 1962. Teams from Koch's expeditions had been in the area in 1936-1938 but acting on instructions from Danish Prime Minister Th. Stauning, finding of valuable metals was not permitted because of the political situation in Europe at that time.

Mesters Vig is a small branch of Kong Oscar Fjord on the east coast of Greenland at c. 72°10´N lat., 270 km north of the nearest Greenlandic settlement Illoqqortoormiut (Scoresbysund). It was named after the chief engineer ('mester') of a Swedish expedition, the first Europeans to sail these waters in 1899. The Mesters Vig area consists of up to 1100 m high mountains intersected by valleys partly covered by dwarf shrub heath. The climate is arctic with an annual average temperature of ÷10°C, snow cover for 9- 10 months and permafrost to a depth of about 100 m, and with two month's polar night. Due to extensive sea ice, the summer sailing period is restricted to 4-8 weeks with ice-strengthened ships.