Greenland forms new government

Greenland reached a coalition accord to form a new government on Tuesday, ending three weeks of political crisis in the autonomous Danish Arctic territory.

Greenland forms new government
Kim Kielsen (second left) and Greenland party leaders on Tuesday. Photo: Christian Klindt Sølbeck/Ritzau Scanpix

In early September, the left-wing pro-independence Naleraq quit the coalition led by the social democrat Siumut party, leaving the government without a majority in the local parliament.

The coalition collapsed over differences about the funding of a planned upgrade of Greenland's airports, with Naleraq opposed to Copenhagen's direct financial participation in the project.

After weeks of negotiations, Prime Minister Kim Kielsen on Tuesday declared that the new “coalition accord is tighter than the last time”.

He added that it addresses “the essential matters… like fishing and the mining of raw materials”.

The new government includes the liberal-conservatives and the separatist party, and will also count on the support of the democrat party in parliament.

In April legislative elections, Siumut narrowly beat the green-leftist Inuit Ataqatigiit.

But the two were unable to form a coalition over differences on fishing — which accounts for 90 percent of Greenland's exports.

Plagued by financial and social woes, Greenland with about 56,000 people receives an annual grant of around 3.6 billion Danish kroner (453 million euros) from Copenhagen.

In the airport dispute, Denmark's aim, in wanting to partly fund the infrastructure projects, was to prevent Greenland's government from having to turn to China's state-owned China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) as a possible partner and investor, said Mikaa Mered, professor for polar economics and geopolitics at the ILERI institute in Paris.

READ ALSO: Greenland seeks new government as ruling coalition collapses


Greenland passes law banning uranium mining

Greenland's parliament voted Tuesday to ban uranium mining and exploration in the vast Danish territory, following through on a campaign promise from the ruling left-wing party which was elected earlier this year.

Greenland's parliament voted on November 9th to ban uranium mining. Prime Minister Mute Egede, pictured, said earlier this month he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement.
Greenland's parliament voted on November 9th to ban uranium mining. Prime Minister Mute Egede, pictured, said earlier this month he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement. File photo: Emil Helms/Ritzau Scanpix

The Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) party won snap elections in April that were originally triggered by divisions over a controversial uranium and rare earth mining project.

The IA won 12 seats in the 31-seat Greenlandic national assembly, beating its rival Siumut, a social democratic party that had dominated politics in the island territory since it gained autonomy in 1979.

On Tuesday 12 MPs in the national assembly voted to ban uranium mining, with nine voting against. 

The IA had campaigned against exploiting the Kuannersuit deposit, which is located in fjords in the island’s south and is considered one of the world’s richest in uranium and rare earth minerals.

The project, led by the Chinese-owned Australian group Greenland Minerals, has not yet been officially abandoned.

But French group Orano announced in May it would not launch exploration despite holding permits to do so.

The massive natural riches of the vast island — measuring two million square kilometres, making it larger than Mexico — have been eyed by many, but few projects have been approved.

The island is currently home to two mines: one for anorthosite, whose deposits contain titanium, and one for rubies and pink sapphires.

While Greenland’s local government is not opposed to all mining activities, it has also banned all oil exploration over concerns for the climate and the environment.

Earlier this month Prime Minister Mute Egede said he wanted to join the Paris climate agreement, which Greenland is one of the few countries not to have ratified.

READ ALSO: Greenland seabed scoured for marine diamonds