The outcome of the vote could decide the fate of the deposits of rare-earth metals on the island
Greenland is holding parliamentary elections on Tuesday that could determine the fate of the huge rare earth deposits that international companies want to develop.
The Arctic island, with a population of 56,000, is part of the Kingdom of Denmark but enjoys wide autonomy.
International companies are closely following the Greenlandic elections as they compete to develop undeveloped deposits of rare-earth metals, including neodymium, which is used in wind turbines, electric vehicles, and military aircraft.
Global warming and melting ice have made Greenland more attractive for investment as access by sea has become easier. In 2019, former US President Donald Trump at one time put forward the idea of buying Greenland to help solve the problem of China’s dominance in the supply of rare earth.
However, in Greenland, there is growing concern about the environmental impact of the planned construction of a large mining complex in Kwanefjeld in the south of the island, where there are reserves of uranium and neodymium.
One of the smaller parties withdrew from the coalition government in February amid heightened criticism of the project, which led to the announcement of early elections to the 31-seat parliament.
Election polls showed that the Social Democratic Party Vperyod (Siumut), which has headed all governments since 1979 except between 2009-2013, is inferior to the main opposition party, People’s Community (Inuit Ataqatigiit).
The Kwanefjell development project has received preliminary parliamentary approval thanks to supporting from Siumut. The license for the project was issued to the Australian company Greenland Minerals, the largest shareholder of which is China’s Shenghe Resources.
If Inuit Ataqatigiit is able to form a ruling coalition, it could call the fate of the project into question. The party adheres to a zero-tolerance policy for uranium and criticizes the project.
The Parliament of Greenland is elected for a term of four years.
In addition to mining, the main topics of the election campaign were issues related to housing, the fishing industry, and efforts to expand autonomy.
Greenland’s mining potential is considered a key factor in the prospects for greater economic independence, as its $ 3 billion economy and large public sector is heavily dependent on Denmark.
Most Greenlanders see independence from Denmark as a long-term goal but say economic development is essential first and foremost.