After winning a parliamentary election for the second time in more than four decades, Greenland’s left-wing Inuit Ataqatigiit party pledged its opposition to a major rare-earth mining project on Wednesday.
Its easy victory cast doubt on the mining complex at Kvanefjeld in Greenland’s south, and sent a clear message to foreign mining companies interested in tapping the Arctic island’s vast untapped mineral resources.
According to official results, the Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) won 37 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s snap election, up from 26 percent in the previous election, and surpassed the ruling social democratic Siumut party, which received 29 percent of the vote.
Since Greenland gained independence from Denmark in 1979, the pro-mining Siumut party has ruled for the majority of that time.
IA has a strong environmental emphasis, but it is not opposed to mining outright. It has fought to stop the Kvanefjeld plant, which includes uranium as well as rare earths such as neodymium, which is used in wind turbines, electric vehicles, and military aircraft.
“The people have spoken,” IA leader Mute Egede, 34, told broadcaster DR when asked about Kvanefjeld. “It won’t happen.”
Mikaa Mered, lecturer on Arctic affairs at HEC business school in Paris, said of the outcome: “This will, without doubt, hamper mining development in Greenland.”
Although most Greenlanders see mining as an important step toward freedom, the Kvanefjeld mine has been a source of contention for years, dividing the government and the community over environmental concerns.
“It’s not that Greenlanders don’t want mining, but they don’t want dirty mining,” Mered said, referring to uranium and rare-earth projects. “Greenlanders are sending a strong message that for them it’s not worth sacrificing the environment to achieve independence and economic development.”