26 Oct 2013

Greenland to allow uranium mining

8:12 am on 26 October 2013

Greenland's parliament has voted to end a decades-long prohibition on mining for radioactive materials such as uranium, further opening up the country to international investors eager to tap its vast mineral resources.

The move will not only allow the mining of uranium deposits, but also of rare earths - minerals used in products from wind turbines to hybrid cars and smart phones.

Such minerals are currently mostly extracted by China.

Greenland Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond was quoted by a local newspaper as saying the elimination of the country's zero tolerance towards uranium was needed for financial reasons.

"We cannot live with unemployment and cost of living increases while our economy is at a standstill," he said.

Mr Hammond's Government won the heated debate 15-14, Reuters reports.

Greenland's "zero tolerance" policy on mining radioactive materials is inherited from Denmark and the Danish parliament must still approve the decision.

While Greenland is self governing, it is still part of the Kingdom of Denmark, which has a say in security and defence issues.