Greenland’s prime minister has described the lifting of the uranium mining ban as a huge step towards political and economic independence from Denmark.
The country, which has a population of just 56,000 people, will now be heavily involved in the debate regarding commercial exploitation of the Arctic following its parliament’s controversial decision to lift a 25-year ban on uranium mining.
The reversal of the ruling could potentially have geopolitical implications on a global scale as Greenland has the resources to supply up to 25 per cent of the world’s minerals and rare earths. This could challenge China’s current dominance in extracting rare earths as the world’s most populous country controls around 90 per cent of rare earth production at present.
In 2009, Greenland became self-governing, but Denmark still controls its defence and security. The Scandinavian country also gives it an annual grant of around DKr 3.3bn, which makes up a third of its budget. Meanwhile fishing is its main industry and accounts for over 80 per cent of its total exports.
Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond said the ruling was a big step towards independence. She pointed out that if the economy is based on only one fragile source, it will never carry Greenland towards independence. She highlighted the fact that the unemployment rate is high and she wants to ensure the next generation has jobs.
She went on to say that the country’s economy needs to be based on the resources it has rather than a grant from Denmark. She said they have mountains with rare earths, mountains with iron ore and mountains with uranium, so it’s a fantastic opportunity for such a small population.