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FILE PHOTO: Snow covered mountains rise above the harbour and town of Tasiilaq, Greenland, June 15, 2018. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

As ice melts, Greenland could become big sand exporter: study

OSLO (Reuters) - Greenland could start to export sand in a rare positive spinoff from global warming that is melting the island's vast ice sheet and washing large amounts of sediment into the sea, scientists said on Monday.

Mining of sand and gravel, widely used in the construction industry, could boost the economy for Greenland's 56,000 population who have wide powers of self-rule within Denmark but rely heavily on subsidies from Copenhagen.

By mining sand, "Greenland could benefit from the challenges brought by climate change," a team of scientists in Denmark and the United States wrote in the journal Nature Sustainability.

The study, headlined "Promises and perils of sand exploitation in Greenland", said the Arctic island would have to assess risks of coastal mining, especially to fisheries.

Rising global temperatures are melting the Greenland ice sheet, which locks up enough water to raise global sea levels by about seven meters (23 ft) if it ever all thawed, and carrying ever more sand and gravel into coastal fjords.

"You can think of it (the melting ice) as a tap that pours out sediment to the coast," said lead author Mette Bendixen, a researcher at the University of Colorado's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.

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