Greenland’s PM takes leave for heart operation

Kim Kielsen, the leader of Greenland’s autonomous government, is to temporarily step back from his duties to have heart surgery.

Greenland’s PM takes leave for heart operation
Kim Kielsen. File photo: Simon Læssøe/Ritzau Scanpix

The head of the autonomous government on the vast icy island, which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, is to take two weeks off due to the medical issue, Greenlandic media Sermitsiaq reports.

“I am often accused of being too passive, but I’ve not actually been on holiday for several years. That doesn’t bother me because I have pledged to take responsibility for (Greenland’s) political direction, and I don’t want to run from that responsibility in any way,” Kielsen said.

“But now I simply must follow doctors’ advice. I have therefore informed the Greenland government that I will be on leave for 14 days from now,” he told Sermitsiaq.

The exact nature of Kielsen’s complaint is unknown, but the Greenlandic newspaper reports he is to follow a 14-day course of medicine prior to the procedure.

Kielsen, who has been Greenland’s prime minister since 2014, was recently in the international spotlight in connection with US president Donald Trump’s unsolicited speculation about buying the autonomous territory from Denmark. The suggestion was dismissed by Kielsen and Danish PM Mette Frederiksen.

“I won’t hide the fact that many people in Greenland think this discussion about a sale has been difficult, and Kim Kielsen has made it very clear that Greenland is not for sale, and I support that,” Frederiksen said following Trump’s cancellation of his Danish state visit.

READ ALSO: Five things to know about Greenland

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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