Former U.S. President, Donald Trump, discovered to his annoyance that Greenland is not for sale, and now an Australian company with close Chinese connections has been told that Greenlanders do not want a proposed rare earth and uranium mine.
Whether it’s the tough climate or blood lines that go back to the Vikings is an interesting question though the consistent answer is don’t mess with Greenlanders.
What happened to Trump two years ago was a warm up for what happened earlier this week when an election fought partly on the issue of the proposed mine was won by a left-leaning political party opposed to its development.
The Inuit Ataqatigilit (IA) party won the most votes in the national election and is now trying to negotiate a coalition government with the result being watched closely by the world’s great powers, and not just because of Greenland’s undeveloped mineral wealth.
Situated deep in the North Atlantic with a border which covers a large section of the Arctic Ocean, Greenland is a big island with considerable geopolitical importance, especially as efforts are made to develop an “across the top” trade route.
The recent closure of the Suez Canal by a single container ship which was blown off course is a potent reminder that the Arctic has an important future in global trade as well as a place where Russia faces the U.S. and where China wants a seat at the table whenever the future of the Arctic is discussed.
But dealing with the descendent of Vikings, hardened by Greenland’s long winters, is not easy, as Trump discovered when attempting to make an offer to buy the island from its official owner, the Kingdom of Denmark.
“Not for sale,” was the response of the Danish Government which riled Trump, though the former President was probably even less happy with a comment from a former Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Lokke Rasmussen, that Trump’s the the bid was perhaps an April Fool’s Day joke, just out of season.
Now the Greenlanders have said no again. This time through the ballot box to the Australian company, Greenland Minerals, which wants to develop the Kvanefjeld rare earth and uranium project in the south-west of the country.
IA campaigned against the proposed mine, largely because of the uranium in the ore and despite assurances from Greenland Minerals that the focus was on the rare earths and other high value minerals and not the uranium.
Despite its Australian domicile and management, the major shareholder, with a 9.4% stake in Greenland Minerals, is the Chinese company, Shenghe Resources.
The leader of IA, and likely next Prime Minister of Greenland, Mute Egede, has said he is opposed to the development of Kvanefjeld but not other possible mining projects.
Greenland Minerals said in a statement earlier today to the Australian stock exchange that it looked forward to working with the new government of Greenland as it progresses the development of Kvanefjeld, adding that it had worked with successive governments of the island since starting work in 2007.
Investors are not convinced that the Australian company and its Chinese backers can make much progress with the new government in Greenland.
As soon as the election result was known the share price of Greenland Minerals fell by 50% to A8.9 cents (US6.6c). Two months ago, before Greenland called a snap election the stock was trading at A34c (US25.5c).