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Greenland election: Inuit Ataqatigiit wins after pledging to halt China-backed rare earth mineral mining operation

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People have spoken, the leader of the Inuit Ataqatigiits, Mute Egede, told the transmitter DR on Wednesday, vowing to stop the development of the Kvanefjeld mine.

The election results are a blow to China, which is currently undermining more than 70 percent of the world’s rare earth minerals and hopes to maintain its dominance as demand grows. Greenland Minerals, the company behind mining project, believes Kwanefjeld has the potential to become the western world’s most rare producer of rare earths, and could be a globally important supplier of rare earths for many decades. Shenghe Resources Holding Co., one of the world’s largest producers of rare earth minerals, is the largest shareholder in the company and will also be responsible for the complex task of processing rare earths once they are extracted.

Rare earth minerals are used to make high-tech equipment, including cell phones, flat-screen monitors, electric cars, wind turbines, and weapons. As a result, they emerged as a key negotiating tool in the US-China trade wars, with Beijing threatening in 2019 to cut exports and halt US production.

The Kwanefjeld mine, if plans continue, would increase carbon dioxide emissions in Greenlands by a projected 45 percent, according to The Wall Street Journal a great concern in a part of the world he has already seen unprecedented melting of ice due to climate change. Furthermore, uranium will be extracted as part of the mining process, leading to concerns about radioactive leaks and debris.

We risk being left with a place that can not be used for anything, Mariane Paviasen, who won a seat in the Greenlands parliament on Tuesday as a member of Inuit Ataqatigi, told the Danish broadcaster DR. Where you can not find or fish because it is all dirty.

Supporters, including the center-left Sium Party, argue that the mine could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue and create hundreds of jobs, putting the territory in a better position to secede from Denmark. . Currently, Greenland is considered a self-governing territory of the small Scandinavian nation, on which it relies for protection and an annual subsidy of approximately $ 624 million financing basic services. Polls show that most of its 57,000 residents are hopeful move towards independence.

But some Greenlanders see allowing other nations to extract their valuable mineral resources as a new form of colonialism. It is the control of less developed countries by contributions made through indirect means, Aili Liimakka Laue, who lives near the proposed mine, told NPR.

Kwanefjeld mining operation was close to clearing its latest regulatory hurdles earlier this year when disagreements arose over whether it should move forward. the overthrow of the Greenland government and encouraged early elections. Miles Guy, Chief Financial Officer of Greenland Minerals, told the Journal that the company had already invested close to $ 100 million in the project and in our view it would be an extreme show of mistrust to suddenly turn it all around.

Closing the mining operation could send an unproductive message to the world and suggest that Greenland is hostile to foreign investors, warned Dwayne Menezes, founder and managing director of the Polar Research and Policy Initiative. Inuit Ataqatigiit did not call for a complete ban on all mining, he noted, and its next challenge will be to make it clear that Greenland is still open for business and still an equally attractive and i sustainable for investment.

The possibility of allowing foreign mining companies that would reduce the need to rely on subsidies from Denmark has been a divisive issue in Greenland for years. In 2013, when Greenland Parliament overturned its ban on the release of radioactive materials such as uranium, legislation passed by just one vote.

Erik Jensen, leader of the Sium Party, told Denmarks TV 2 that he believes the parties’ support for the mine was one of the main reasons for its defeat in Tuesday’s parliamentary elections. according to the BBC.

Egede will now become the youngest prime minister in Greenlands. His rapid rise through the political ranks he began in 2015 when another Member of Parliament had to take medical leave has been partly credited for his success in reaching voters through social media. His Instagram account is intertwined with photos of him being dragged through the snow by one dog sled pack AND introducing his toddler to Thomas Pikettys Capital in the 21st Century.

As Egede told him Danish television that his victory at the party meant that the Kvanefjeld mining project was officially dead, he is more likely to remain in oblivion for immediate unrest. Inuit Ataqatigiit secured 37 per cent of the vote in Tuesday’s election and will have to form a governing coalition with other parties, some of which could insist on holding a referendum for the matter.

In addition to potentially holding the largest reservoir of rare earth minerals outside of China, Greenlands’ strategic position between the United States and Russia in the Arctic Circle means that in the gaze of the great world powers. In 2019, former President Donald Trump pushed top aides to see if it would be possible for the United States to buy territory from Denmark. (It was not for sale.) And while the United States has built its military arsenal at Thule Air Base, its post in northern Greenland, China has been pushing to establish its presence.

This is a very clear message from the people of Greenland to China and the world: economic development, even if it allows Greenland to become independent, does not justify the destruction of the environment, Mikaa Mered, a lecturer on Arctic affairs at the HEC school business in Paris, told the French media Liberation.

She noted that voters between the ages of 18 and 60 largely supported Inuit Ataqatigi and his call to stop the mining project, while those over 60 were more likely to side with Sium and his push to make Greenland financially independent.

By voting against mining interests, Greenlanders also sent a message to the United States and European nations that see the island as a resource treasure, Mered said.

This report has been updated.



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