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European Union seeks close cooperation with Greenland to fulfill resource needs

In an effort to secure access to critical metals and minerals for its industries, European Commission representatives Antonio Tajani (Vice President), and Andris Piebalgs (Commisisoner for Development Cooperation) have signed a letter of intent on cooperation with Greenland’s Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist.

The June 13 letter of intent covers cooperation in the areas of joint infrastructure development and investment, as well as capacity building in the exploration and development of mineral materials, according to a European Commission news release, which also points out that:

•58 % of exploration companies currently operating in Greenland are Canadian or Australian, and only 15% are European companies.

•These companies at present only have very limited involvement in on-going exploration activities and own only a few exploration licenses.

•With industries within the European Union highly dependent on imported raw materials, and Greenland’s vast mineral riches (iron, zinc, niobium, tantalum, rare earths, rubies, and molybdenum) and geostrategic position, Greenland is an important “strategic partner in the long term.”

Having identified a list of 14 metals and minerals as critical raw materials based on several risk factors in its “Raw Materials Strategy” from 2010, the European Commission is hopeful that closer cooperation with Greenland will be beneficial in particular as Greenland has “an especially strong potential in six of the fourteen critical raw materials identified by the European Commission (niobium, platinum group metals, rare earths and tantalum).”

While other global players are already implementing their overhauled mineral strategies reflecting new geopolitical realities, the U.S. has yet to formulate its own strategy. Unfortunately, as the new American Resources Critical Metals report points out, U.S. government agencies can’t even agree on a definition of what constitutes a critical mineral – which does not bode well for a strategic overhaul that is long overdue.