Arctic mining in the balance as Greenland votes todayMarch 12, 2013
Tiny Greenland, with just 57,000 inhabitants, has the eyes of the energy world on it today as it holds an election which will determine whether or if the vast stores of mineral wealth off its frozen shores will be developed by world energy companies.
Not one mining or oil project has got off the ground yet.
But more than 100 exploration licenses have been awarded. There are large deposits of rare earths, used in products from wind turbines to hybrid-powered cars. China accounts for the majority of world supply. There are hopes for gold and zinc.
Government officials says reserves may be equivalent to as much half of the entire North Sea.
Central to the debate in Greenland is a $2.3 billion (€1.76 bn) project for an iron ore mine by the British-based London Mining Plc near a fiord in Nuuk. It may involve diesel power plants, a road and port and would supply China with iron to fuel its economy.
Some 2,000 Chinese workers – the equivalent of around four percent of Greenland’s population – could fly in for its construction, touching nerves where unemployment is rising.