Greenland unlikely to gain independence from Denmark

greenlandGreenland is unlikely to be granted economic independence from Denmark despite its mineral wealth and offshore oil.

A Nordic academics panel comprising of 13 members carried out a report on the likelihood of Greenland achieving economic independence and concluded that the island’s offshore oil and abundance of minerals could help it develop but probably won’t lead to it becoming economically independent.

Copenhagen University professor Mink Rosing, who led the panel, said that the natural resource exploitation is important for Greenland, but not enough. He pointed out that even though there is knowledge of six mineral deposits on Greenland, it is “unrealistic” to think that several large mines will be fully operational by 2040 as none of the infrastructure, legislation or workforce required for such mines is in place.

Furthermore, the report stated that the known mineral resource deposits Greenland has are not sufficient to serve as its only source of income. Only Cairn Energy has conducted offshore drilling in Greenland’s waters in recent years, and no commercial quantities of gas and oil were found.

Greenland has a population of around 57,000, many of whom live in small towns and coastal settlements on the west coast, where fishing and hunting of whales and seals are the main sources of income.

Many residents have called for complete autonomy, having the opinion that the resources can help reduce dependency on Denmark, which pays an annual subsidy that accounts for around two-thirds of Greenland’s economy, with the rest coming from tourism and fishing.

Premier Aleqa Hammond said she anticipates that Greenland will become independent in her lifetime. However, the report said the semi-autonomous island still needs Denmark’s financial support, which totaled 3.3bn kroner ($689m) last year.