China is concerned about Greenland’s increasing presence in the rare earth field, according to analysts. They claim that Chinese president Hu Jintao’s recent visit to Denmark was primarily because of the Asian country’s aim to develop closer ties with the Scandinavian country.
According to the analysts, Greenland, which is a self-governing dependency of Denmark, boasts some of the largest amounts of rare earth elements in the world, while China is finding activity harder on the back of five decades of “excessive mining”. They say China doesn’t have the guaranteed rare earth supply it used to.
European Commission data indicates Greenland has “strong potential” in six out of the 14 elements listed on the union’s critical raw material list. These include rare earths, tantalum and niobium as well as the platinum group metals. Greenland’s rare earth resources currently amount to around 10 million tonnes (nine per cent of the earth’s total).
Analysts point out that a number of Greenland’s significant deposits, such as Kvanefjeld, are in the advanced stage of exploration, meaning the dependency could well be set to become a medium-size supplier.
In recognition of the increased role Greenland is likely to play in the field, London Mining – a company backed by Chinese steelmakers – has sought permission to build a US$2.35bn iron ore mine near the country’s capital Nuuk which, if given the green light, would be the biggest industrial development to take place in Greenland.