Parliamentary elections in Greenland have been set for 12 March, setting up a landmark decision that could have a major effect on the country’s mining prospects. The announcement came last week via Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist, who has been a controversial figure amid the development of new mining policies that have attracted heavy interest from international firms.
Under the leadership of Kleist and the country’s current three-party ruling coalition, officials have signed major deals with Chinese investors as ice melt continues to expose what is believed to be one of the largest areas of rare earth deposits in the world. Rare earths are an essential and lucrative component in the manufacturing of smartphones and other consumer electronics.
However, the dealing have attracted heavy criticism from European and US leaders, who have encouraged the North Atlantic state to avoid partnering with China, which already controls over 90 percent of the current supply of rare earths.
Moreover, local political figures have said that the policy would be disadvantageous for the country’s population, as Chinese investors plan to import cheaper labour from the Far East.
Opposition leader Aleqa Hammond, whose party says it will tear up new mining legislation if it emerges victorious in the March election, told Reuters reporters, “Big companies will take advantage of our small work force and demand new prices, of course, because they want as big profits as possible.”