All eyes on the election . . .
Elections in Greenland, a country of just 50,000 people, are rarely the subject of international scrutiny. But today, the U.S. and China are watching the outcome closely, as a strategically important rare earth mineral mine is at stake. Greenland’s Kvanefield mine is currently operated by Australia-based Greenland Minerals. The company’s largest investor and strategic partner is China-based Shenghe Resources, which has signed a deal to control all of the mine’s output. The ruling Siumut party supports the project, pointing to its potential to boost Greenland’s economy. The opposition, Inuit Ataqatigii, strongly opposes the mine, pointing to negative environmental consequences.
Strategic battle for rare earth minerals . . .
The election comes on the heels of China’s contemplating limiting its exports of rare earth minerals, which supply defence and electronics industries globally and are notably crucial to the production of American fighter jets by U.S. defence industry giant Lockheed Martin. China currently accounts for 80-90 per cent of global rare earth production, leading the U.S. and its allies to worry that Chinese control of the Kvanefield mine will only increase China’s leverage in trade talks. In an effort to secure critical minerals, the U.S. has offered Greenland millions of dollars in aid and opened a consulate in the city of Nuuk.
Implications for Canada . . .
In January, Canada and the U.S. finalized the Joint Action Plan on Critical Minerals Collaboration aimed at improving critical mineral security. Natural Resources Canada has framed this as a strategic opportunity for Canada to position itself as a leading supplier of critical minerals at a time when international allies are looking to diversify their supply chains away from China. And in March, the Polar Research and Policy Initiative released a report concluding that Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand should focus on Greenland to reduce their dependence on China. The results of the election will impact Canada’s role in the ongoing battle for rare earth elements.
- BBC: Greenland election: Melting ice and mining project on the agenda
- The Globe and Mail: Greenland has an election on Tuesday. Why are the U.S. and China so interested in its outcome?
- The Polar Research and Policy Initiative: The case for a Five Eyes critical minerals alliance focusing on Greenland