Greenland, the really big island near the US and semi-autonomous region of the Kingdom of Denmark, stunned a lot of people when the Inuit Ataqatigiit political party overtook the Siumut party for a majority of the government seats. This is important because the Inuit Ataqatigiit party essentially campaigned on shutting down a Chinese and Australian backed rare earth mine in the Kvanefjeld region of southern Greenland. I’m calling it right now: watch the Chinese begin to manipulate the Greenland government in advance of the 2024 election.
Greenland’s government is particularly important due to mining for rare earth metals. Greenland sits on a large sheet of underground minerals known as the Ilimaussaq intrusive complex. This sheet has a number of rare earth metals and enough uranium to make it the 6th largest uranium mine in the world if it was mined. Exploring of the Ilimaussag complex has been done at the Kvanefjeld site, located in southern Greenland. The government formed by the Siumut party was happy to allow this exploration, as the mining would bring in job and revenue and potentially help Greenland become financially independent.
The local communities near Kvanjfeld weren’t so happy. Among the items mined for was Lujavrite, which contains uranium. The company performing the exploration, Greenland Minerals, wanted to process the uranium as well as the other rare earth metals. Locals were concerned about the environmental impacts, even more so when Greenland Minerals gained considerable Chinese funding due to a Chinese company purchasing stock worth at least 11% of the company in 2016.
Since the new government formed, stock prices of Greenland Mines plummeted over 40%. The new government is working with Bluejay Mining, which mines titanium at a different mine, and apparently had a pleasant meeting, likely a way to dissuade mining companies from moving investments elsewhere. Kvanjfeld was divisive because the company paid only lip service to environmental concerns and seemed to move ahead with uranium mining without working with locals in the area.
Greenland doesn’t have a lot of people, and the last election only registered about 26,000 total votes. To swing an election would take only changing a few thousand votes. If the Chinese lock up the minerals in Greenland, it’ll be a huge blow to Western countries access to rare earth metals. Combine that with China’s own rare earth mines and increasing investment in Africa, and you’ve got a rare earth monopoly in one country that has shown willingness to flex that muscle in the past.
Yes, that’s one of a few reasons Donald Trump offered to buy Greenland. It actually made, and still makes, a lot of sense. Maybe they can become a state along with Washington DC?
The Inuit Ataqatigiit party is unlikely to change their stance on uranium mining. Watch as China slowly invests more money and likely engages in cyber intrusion to penetrate and manipulate the Greenland government to its will over the next four years. Greenland is literally a neighbor to the United States, and we should be really concerned about the increasing Chinese investment there. By 2024, I don’t expect the Inuit Ataqatigiit to have anything resembling a majority government if China has their way about it.
This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.