Greenland’s left-wing IA party forms new government, vows to block rare-earth mine

FILE PHOTO: Greenland's election
FILE PHOTO: Members of IA (Inuit Ataqatigiit) celebrate following the exit polls during Greenland’s election in Nuuk, Greenland April 6, 2021. Ritzau Scanpix/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. DENMARK OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN DENMARK./File Photo

April 16, 2021

By Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Greenland’s left-wing Inuit Ataqatigiit party (IA), which has pledged to oppose a large rare-earth mining project, announced a new government coalition on Friday, as it reiterated its strong environmental stance and vowed to combat acute social issues.

The Arctic island of 56,000 people has gained international attention since former U.S. President Donald Trump offered to buy it in 2019, partly to help address Chinese dominance of rare earth mineral supplies.

“We are one people and we must stand together in Greenland, especially because our country is under incredible focus from the outside world,” new Prime Minister Mute Egede told reporters in the capital Nuuk, accompanied by traditional Inuit music.

For only the second time in 40 years, IA won a snap election last week with more than a third of votes, dethroning the ruling Siumut party, which had led every government except one since 1979.

IA’s victory sent a strong signal to international mining companies interested in mineral-rich Greenland. The party campaigned against a controversial rare-earth mining project at Kvanefjeld in the south of the island.

“We have something that money can’t buy,” Egede said. “We will do everything we can to stop the Kvanefjeld project.”

IA formed a coalition with pro-independence party Naleraq to control a total 16 seats in the 31-seat parliament. Liberal-conservative unionist party Atassut is supporting the coalition and has two seats in parliament.

Greenland gained broad autonomy from Denmark in 2009, the last time IA led the country, but the nation still relies on annual grants from Denmark, to which it also leaves foreign, security and monetary policy.

Kvanefjeld contains a large deposit of rare earth metals, used to make wind turbines and electric car batteries, but also radioactive uranium, which many fear will harm the country’s fragile environment.

(Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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