AS elections go, it sounds rather minor-league: a contest with just 40,000 voters, triggered by a planning row in one of the most remote, inhospitable corners of the planet. On Tuesday, though, diplomats from Washington to Beijing will be watching carefully as Greenland holds snap parliamentary polls. With a total of population of just 56,000, its electorate is smaller than some British town councils – yet their vote over the vexed issue of the Kvanefjeld mine project could have implications not just for Greenland, but the global superpower race. Overlooking the tiny fishing settlement of Narsaq, where locals live mainly off catching whales and seals, the project aims to tap into one of world’s biggest deposits of “rare earth” minerals – materials as vital to the 21st-century as oil was to the 20th. Their supermagnetic, superconductive properties are used in everything from i-Phones and solar panels through to hybrid cars and weapons systems. Yet while they are key to the goals of a high-tech, low-carbon world, extracting them itself can be an environmentally-hazardous process – a point not lost on Greenland’s residents, some of whom are sceptical of promises from the Australian firm behind the project, Greenland Minerals, that strict anti-pollution measures will be enforced. Frontrunners in the election are the Left-wing, pro-green Inuit Ataqatigiit party, who could throw the mine project out altogether, despite warnings from rival parties that Greenland’s isolated economy must end its dependence on fishing. But for others, the stakes are about much more than even that. Of particular concern is that Greenland Minerals is part-owned by Shenghe Holdings, a Chinese firm with close ties to the Beijing government.
Telegraph 4th April 2021 read more »