Greenland’s government has agreed to discuss a controversial mining law that was passed last December. The law, which makes it easier for companies to mine for raw materials, has caused great controversy in some circles.
Among the main concerns is that under the new ruling miners with projects valued at around $1bn can enter agreements with overseas trade unions, which opponents claim will end up resulting in underpaid foreign labour.
Those in favour of the ruling believe the self-governing territory could become the world’s leading rare earth producer if the government relaxed restrictions on natural resources exploitation. They believe Greenland would benefit from foreign workers because the population (55,000) is insufficient to help develop the country’s mines.
If the current legislation was altered, it is likely to include concessions to unions on disability and holiday pay. Furthermore, it would state that foreign workers would have to earn at least the equivalent to Greenland’s minimum wage, meaning more locals would be taken on where possible.
European Commission data shows that the former Danish colony has strong potential in six out of 14 elements described by the EU as critical raw materials, including iron ore, uranium, gold, rare earths and rubies. Mining companies have become more and more eager to start operations in Greenland – where there is also evidence proving it could have some of the world’s biggest oil reserves – over recent years.