Greenland's opposition party wins election dominated by Kvanefjeld mining project

Left-wing victory a headache for international mining companies wanting to tap island's rich resources

Members of Inuit Ataqatigiit celebrate exit poll results at the end of the election. AP
Members of Inuit Ataqatigiit celebrate exit poll results at the end of the election. AP

Greenland's main opposition party, which opposes a rare earth mining project, became the biggest in parliament after securing more than a third of votes in a snap election.

The result, watched closely by international companies keen to exploit Greenland's vast untapped mineral resources, casts doubt over the future of a mining complex at Kvanefjeld in the south of the Arctic island, which has one of the world's biggest deposits of rare earth metals.

The island of 56,000 people, which former US president Donald Trump offered to buy in 2019, is part of the Kingdom of Denmark but has broad autonomy.

With nearly all votes counted, the left-wing Inuit Ataqatigiit party secured 37 per cent, unseating the ruling social democratic Siumut party, which won 29 per cent of votes, officials said.

IA leader Mute Egede, 34, will now try to form a new government.

Although not opposed outright to mining, his party has a strong environmental focus. It campaigned to halt the Kvanefjeld project, which aside from rare earth elements such as neodymium – used in wind turbines, electric vehicles and combat aircraft – also contains uranium.

While most Greenlanders see mining as an important path towards independence, Kvanefjeld has been a point of contention for years, sowing deep divisions in the government and population over environmental concerns.

Updated: April 7, 2021 03:49 PM

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