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Near the southern tip of Greenland, lies the old mining town of Ivittuut, now a collection of ramshackle houses and sheds and scattered pieces of old machinery. Ivittuut was once the world’s largest source of cryolite, an extremely rare mineral that was historically used in the extraction of aluminium from bauxite ore. Although cryolite has been found at other places on earth, Ivittuut was the only place where this mineral was extracted commercially.

Cryolite was first discovered in Ivittuut in 1799 by British miners who were engaged in silver mining around the town. But the silver content in the veins were too low to make the operation profitable, and mining was abandoned. Sixty years later, Danish engineers began mining cryolite for its aluminum content.

Ivittuut

An abandoned house in Ivittuut, in Greenland. Image credit: S. Bonaime/Shutterstock.com


© Amusing Planet, 2020.



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