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Greenland’s mining decisions likely to refuel race for Arctic riches

In what may become a groundbreaking decision, Greenland’s parliament has voted to lift a long-standing ban on uranium mining, opening the door to Rare Earths exploration and development in the Artic territory. A-semi-autonomous part of Denmark, Greenland is hoping this decision and the expected industrial boom will bring it closer to achieving economic and ultimately legal independence from Denmark.

A separate decision to award London Mining PLC a thirty-year license to build and run a giant ore mine ties into the same overall context of attempting to “wean Greenland from Danish economic support,” and turning to new partners, including China – as evidenced by the fact that London Mining PLC is a British company that has worked with Chinese industry in the past.

Not surprisingly, Investor Intel’s Robin Bromby has taken a closer look at China’s involvement in Greenland, which as we have argued, seems to see the territory as its key point of access to the Arctic’s vast mineral riches. Retracing a series of events that all but confirm China’s serious interest in opening that door to the Arctic (including its recent ascension to observer status on the Arctic council), Bromby says:

“So this week we see a news report that says ‘China agreed with the Arctic Council that development in the Arctic region should abide by local regulations and environmental requirements, according to a senior official. China pledged to make a greater contribution through its new official observer role in the council, Jia Guide, deputy director-general with the Department of Treaty and Law under China’s Foreign Ministry, said Tuesday.’

The Xinhua news agency quoted Jia saying “resource development in the Arctic was a possibility, but not a priority for China,”

Oh really?

It was diplomatic of Jia, speaking in Whitehorse, and then his stressing how important environmental protection was to his country.

So we have [to] wait and see.”

Indeed we will. The lifting of the mining ban is only a first step, and other laws may still have to be changed before any REE development can occur. Nonetheless, it is reasonable to expect that the above-referenced decisions will add some spark to the race for Arctic riches.

As ARPN’s Dan McGroarty has argued, the United States’ claim to the Arctic comes via Alaska. His call to action from a few years back becomes all the more relevant as more and more players show up at the Arctic circle:

“For the U.S., our Arctic claims come via Alaska – a.k.a. Seward’s Folly, and perhaps the best $7.2 million ever spent by the U.S. Government. Across a range of metals and minerals, expect Alaska – and by extension, our Arctic claims – to play a key role in resource supply in the 21st century. Forget the folly: let’s make that William Seward, futurist.”

As indicated in a recent outline of the state of mining operations in Alaska by ARPN expert Curt Freeman, there is plenty of potential in The Last Frontier. Now more than ever would be a good time to unleash it.