Minerals won't buy Greenland independence, experts say

  

In a new report published on Friday (24 January), 13 Nordic experts affirm that the minerals found in Greenland won't be enough to grant the country economic independence from Denmark.

According to the report, the profits Greenland can expect from exploiting its mines have been significantly overrated, and the country will depend on Denmark's annual subsidy of 3.4 billion Danish crowns (€457 million) for at least another 25 years.

During the past couple of years, the Greenlandic and Danish governments have been discussing how the country can exploit its natural resources such as uranium and possibly oil, something that could eventually lead to the Arctic country's independence.

But according to the experts, Greenland would need around 24 large-scale mines costing around €670 million each to match its current level of spending as a welfare state. As Greenland currently only has two mines and as commodity prices have fallen over the past years, experts say it is "unrealistic" that the country can survive solely on its mines.

"There is nothing that implies that minerals can finance economic independence for Greenland in the coming years," Minik Rossing, geology professor at Copenhagen University and chairman of the expert group, told the newspaper Politiken.

Lars Hovbakke Sørensen, a professor at Copenhagen University, told the news agency Ritzau that the report will be received with "frustration" in Greenland where the debate on minerals has captured the public's attention.

Greenland's 48-year-old Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond has previously stated that she wishes to see a free and independent Greenland in her lifetime, partly thanks to the greater autonomy expected from the exploitation of minerals.

Timeline: 
  • 1 Feb. 2014: Deadline to apply for drilling license in Greenland for 2014.
  • End 2014: Denmark and Greenland to publish plan for uranium extraction in Greenland.
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