Mines and independence, Greenland looks to the future

Time.news – Two years ago Donald Trump raised the idea of ​​buying it from Denmark, demonstrating how strategic it has become from an economic and geopolitical point of view for natural resources and the control of arctic routes. And the elections held on April 6 in Greenland may be crucial for its future: the dominant theme is a rare earth and uranium mining project able to diversify the economy of the largest island in the world (four times the size of Italy) that climate change is redesigning.

The Kannersuit project

The project that caused a political crisis in February and the early election for the 31 seats of the local parliament concerns rare earths and uranium in the south of the island of Kuannersuit. Greenland Minerals from Australia, supported by the Chinese group Shenghe, has obtained an exploration license for the mine which can be transformed into an economic resource capable of supporting the island’s other major industry, fishing. Rare earths, in fact, are a group of 17 metals used as components in high-tech devices such as smartphones, flat screens, electric cars and weapons. Environmentalists, however, fear that large-scale mining could damage the pristine landscape and exacerbate threats to the Greenlandic ecosystem.

The deployments

The Siumut Social Democratic Party, the largest of the ‘ice democracy’, has dominated island politics since 1979 but is lagging behind in polls also due to support for the mining project. The green opposition party and left Inuit Ataqatigiit (Ia), ahead of the polls, he opposes uranium mining for fear of radioactive waste. Together with other opposition parties close to the Inuit community, the AI ​​could form an alternative coalition majority by blocking the extraction.

The turning point of 2009

The semi-autonomous Danish protectorate in 2009 got the ownership of its mineral reserves along with self-government (Copenhagen was held the foreign and defense policy) and has long harbored the hope that the riches believed to be buried under its surface, and that the melting of the ice makes it gradually accessible, helping it one day to cut the cord financial umbilical with Denmark. Nuuk, the capital of Greenland, is dependent on annual Danish subsidies of around € 526 million, about one third of its national budget.

An immense treasure

According to some studies, the areas around the Arctic ocean contain the largest untapped reserves of oil and natural gas in the world. Natural resources, together with the importance of geographic location now that the melting of the ice has made the polar routes passable all year round, fuel the dreams of independence among the 56,000 inhabitants of Greenland.

The courtship of the super powers

An independent Greenland would be even more courted by the super powers: already now the control of what was once called the “Northwest Passage“is at the center of the interests of the great world powers, taking into account that Russia controls a good part of it thanks to geography and China is using it more and more. The US has offered to help Denmark in the construction of three new airports in Greenland to get ahead of China, which could have asked to use the ports also for military purposes.On the island, the US has built several military bases and weather stations since the Second World War.

The road map to independence

Jurists already speak of a Greenlandic quasi-state and the path to independence was traced by the 2009 agreement: negotiations with Copenhagen, popular consultative referendum only on the island to confirm the agreement and then it will be necessary to vote in favor of both the Danish and Greenlandic Parliament. Thus could end the long season of Danish colonization, at times very hard, inaugurated in 1721, when it arrived in Greenland. the Lutheran missionary Hans Egede to convert the indigenous Inuit to Christianity.

Climate change

Climate change in the Arctic is both a curse and a blessing for Greenland. On the one hand, it threatens the traditional lifestyles of Greenland and its almost entirely Inuit population (more than a third of the indigenous people of the Arctic coasts live on the island, who together with the Yupik are also known as Eskimos). The retreat of sea ice in fact reduces the season for hunters who work there with dog sleds. On the other hand, the warmer waters also lead to the arrival of new species of fish, while on land it is expected that the melting of the ice will bring to light a large amount of minerals.



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