Members of the left-wing and Indigenous-led Inuit Ataqatigiit (AI) party in Greenland celebrated late Tuesday after winning a majority of parliamentary seats in national elections and vowed to use their new power to block controversial rare-earth mining projects in the country.
Poll results released Wednesday morning showed that the Inuit Ataqatigiit won 36.6 percent of the vote compared to the 29 percent garnered by the center-left Siumut party, which has dominated domestic politics since Greenland won autonomy from Denmark in 1979. If those margins hold, according to the Associated Press, AI is expected to grab 12 out of the 31 seats in the Inatsisartut, the local parliament, a 50 percent increase from the 8 seats it currently holds.
As Agence France-Presse reports:
The dividing line between the two parties was whether to authorise a controversial giant rare earth and uranium mining project, which is currently the subject of public hearings.
The Kuannersuit deposit, in the island’s south, is considered one of the world’s richest in uranium and rare earth minerals—a group of 17 metals used as components in everything from smartphones to electric cars and weapons.
IA has called for a moratorium on uranium mining, which would effectively put a halt to the project.
According to Reuters, the results cast “doubt on the mining complex at Kvanefjeld in the south of the Arctic island and sends a strong signal to international mining companies wanting to exploit Greenland’s vast untapped mineral resources.”
“The people have spoken,” IA leader Mute Egede told local news oultet DR when asked about Kvanefjeld. “It won’t happen.”
“We must listen to the voters who are worried,” he said. “We say no to uranium mining.”
The people of Greenland vote to oust a government that was planning to welcome foreign companies eager to tap the island’s rare-earth metals https://t.co/yFt9hQ1gcF
— Bloomberg (@business) April 7, 2021
In other comments following the party’s victory, Egede said, “There are two issues that have been important in this election campaign: people’s living conditions is one. And then there is our health and the environment.”
“It’s not that Greenlanders don’t want mining, but they don’t want dirty mining,” Mered added. “Greenlanders are sending a strong message that for them it’s not worth sacrificing the environment to achieve independence and economic development.”