Voters in Greenland have elected the main opposition left-wing environmentalist party in general elections on Tuesday Apr. 6.
Official results on Wednesday Apr. 7 showed that the Inuit Ataqatigiit party had received 37 percent of the votes over the incumbent center-left Siumut party, which secured 29 percent of the seats.
The Siumut party had been in power most of the time since 1979, according to Reuters. The Inuit Ataqatigiit party had run on a campaign against a project to dig up rare earth metals from what is one of the earth’s biggest deposits, according to DW.
The proposed international mining project by Greenland Minerals, an Australian-based company with Chinese ownership, was looking to gain a license to operate the Kvanefjeld mine in southern Greenland, according to the Guardian.
The company said that the mine has “the potential to become the most significant Western world producer of rare earths,” which are used in everything from cellphones to rechargeable batteries, and will also create uranium as a byproduct, according to the New York Times. “The people have spoken,” Múte B. Egede, the leader of Inuit Ataqatigiit, told Danish broadcaster DR, adding that it would halt the mining project. “We must listen to the voters who are worried. We say no to uranium mining,” he said in a statement to KNR.
“It’s not that Greenlanders don’t want mining, but they don’t want dirty mining,” Mikaa Mered, a lecturer on Arctic affairs at HEC business school in Paris, told Reuters. “Greenlanders are sending a strong message that for them it’s not worth sacrificing the environment to achieve independence and economic development,” Mered said.
The vote also highlights the semiautonomous territory of Denmark’s “growing geopolitical significance on a warming planet as its polar seas become more navigable and as the melting ice unveils newly accessible resources, including the rare earths that play an essential part in the production of many alternative energy sources.” the Times reported. The Inuit Ataqatigiit will now need to negotiate a coalition to form a government.