HELSINKI (AP) – Greenland is set to hold snap parliamentary elections on Tuesday, in part to discuss whether Denmark’s semi-automated area should allow international companies to extract significant reserves of rare metals in the Arctic island.
Lawmakers agreed to hold snap elections after center-right Democrats left Greenland’s three-party ruling coalition in February, leaving the government led by the center-left Forward party with a 31-seat minority in the National Assembly, Inacisartut.
One of the main reasons for the Democrats’ departure was the deep political controversy over a proposed uranium ores mining project in South Greenland. Supporters see the Kwannefeld mine project as a potential source of jobs and economic prosperity.
Former Prime Minister Kim Kilsen has called for the green light for Greenland Minerals, a Chinese-owned company in Australia, to start work. Eric Ensensen, Kielsen’s last successor as leader of the Forward party, opposes a mining license.
Recent polls suggest Inuit Ataqatigiit (Left)’s left-wing Community for People party, a staunch opponent of the Minesweeper project, is set to become Greenland’s largest parliamentary party.
The opposition party said most of Greenland’s 56,000 residents, most of whom are indigenous Inuit, opposed the bill, mainly for environmental reasons.
Mining supply may be outside of Greenland. The island, which is mostly covered in ice, has the largest mines of rare metals in the world, according to the US Geological Survey.
Estimates suggest that the Kwannefeld mine could hold the largest rare metal mine outside of China, which currently accounts for more than 90% of world production.
Rare metals are used in a wide range of industries, including smartphones, wind turbines, microchips, electric car batteries, and weapon systems.
Greenland, the largest island in the world, which is not a continent, has its own government, parliament, defense, foreign policy and reliance on Denmark.
Voting for Tuesday’s election will end at 2200 GMT. Preliminary results are expected on Wednesday.