Lawmakers in the Greenlandic capital have voted in favour of relaxing regulations on local mining firms. The move, which will allow Chinese companies and other international groups to import cheap labour, comes as the increasing ice melt continues to expose the landmass’ geology, which experts say is exceptionally rich in rare earths and other lucrative minerals.
Naaja Nathanielsen said on behalf of the ruling IA party in Nuuk, “We believe this law gives Greenland a stronger hand when negotiating with companies seeking to begin operations here,” The Copenhagen Post reports.
However, opposition to the measure remains strong, not only within Greenland, but also from within the international community. Many cite ethical concerns about allowing companies to pay foreign miners’ wages that are well below current minimums under Danish law. In addition, many question why the law was passed so quickly.
Anders Meilvang said on behalf of Transparency Greenland, the local arm of Transparency International, “This law will have an enormous impact on Greenland’s future. We can’t afford to rush a decision through parliament without involving the entire population through a democratic process.”
Similarly, MP Per Berthelsen told the media, “Given all the dissatisfaction and concern there is about the emergence of the mining industry, it’s all the more difficult to understand why this bill needed to be voted on so quickly.”