Apr 8, 2021 - World

Dispute over rare-earths mine shapes Greenland's election

Election day in Nuuk. Photo: Christian Klindnt Soelbeck/AFP via Getty

A snap election in Greenland has dealt a potentially fatal blow to a mining project that had been expected to produce around 10% of the world's rare-earth materials.

Why it matters: Rare-earths are key ingredients in batteries and magnets for everything from cell phones to electric cars. China dominates the industry — a source of concern in Washington because of the economic leverage it provides Beijing.

  • A Chinese company owns a stake in the Greenland project and would also process all of the materials mined on the site in the mountains of Southern Greenland, per WSJ.
  • The project would boost the economy and make independence from Denmark more viable (Danish aid currently covers about half of Greenland's budget). But it could also be environmentally disastrous.
  • The latter argument won out, as an opposition party opposed to the mine won Tuesday's vote.

Worth noting: China has made a number of plays recently for influence in Greenland (pop. 56,225) but has not, like Donald Trump, offered to buy the island outright.

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