Greenland Getting Greener
October 25, 2013
On Thursday Greenland's parliament voted to end a decades-long prohibition on mining for radioactive materials including uranium, opening up the country to outside investors from Australia and China. People familiar with history know that Greenland was given its name to convince explorers from Europe to colonize the land even though it offered very little at the time in terms of monetary value. Today, though, with the wealth of rare earth and radioactive materials in the country many countries and investors are eager to start mining.
China is expected to be at the forefront of mining bids since rare earth minerals are used in modern products including wind turbines, hybrid cars and smart phones. The untapped mineral wealth of Greenland is also being exposed by sea ice thawing and new Arctic shipping routes being opened.
Though there was some resistance within Greenland's parliament due to concerns about the danger to the environment from mining radioactive material, the Prime Minister, Aleqa Hammond told local newspaper Sermitsiaq, "We cannot live with unemployment and cost of living increases while our economy is at a standstill. It is therefore necessary that we eliminate zero tolerance towards uranium now."
Hammond's government won the debate by 15-14 votes. However, while Greenland is self-governing, it is still a part of the Kingdom of Denmark and the decision to mine uranium may need to be approved by the Danish parliament.
Currently, half of Greenland's budget comes from a grant from Denmark and locals want to be free of this dependence. The money that would come from mining rare earths and uranium as well as oil would be enough to sustain the country of 57,000 for the near future. With the news, mining bid interest started with contacts from China, Australia and England.