Greenland is taking advantage of global warming, according to a statement made earlier this month by its prime minister, Aleqa Hammond. As ice sheets continue to melt revealing previously inaccessible terrain, Greenland has incentive to tap into its own resources. Among the newly revealed Greenland riches are gold, uranium, zinc, lead, and iron. The country has already repealed a 25-year-old ban on the mining of radioactive elements and has welcomed the interest of other countries that are after Greenland’s lot of uranium. Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have spoken out against the plans to bring in outsiders to engage in dangerous mining operations, but their objections are received by deaf ears. Greenland’s prime minister maintains that such operations are the key to finally establishing the country’s freedom.
In 2009, Greenland, an autonomous country subject to the Kingdom of Denmark, was allowed more power for self-governance. Though the Danish royal government will still have authority over international affairs, the Greenlandic government is experiencing more freedom than ever before. In addition to more legislative freedom, Prime Minister Hammond believes that the melting ice sheets will open many doors for the fishing industry to expand. However the real moneymaker is mining.
Reports have made special note of a mysterious player in the uranium industry, Greenland Minerals and Energy Limited (GMEL). Based out of Perth, Australia, the company is mysterious because there is limited straightforward information on who its shareholders are, reports said. In particular, Sara Olsvig, a Greenland MP, felt uneasy about the purported connections between GMEL and uranium mining prospector, Mihran Shemesian. Shemesian has been linked to less-than-reputable dealings with the Puntland State of Somalia, dealings that secured mining rights for Shemesian. Other reports placed Shemesian as one of the more significant GMEL shareholders, but altogether the information on this character is fickle and contradictory. Shemesian’s reported nom de plume supports this fact: “Mick Many Names.”
Hammond’s attitude is thick with opportunity for the people of Greenland. Refusing to be “victims” of global warming, Hammond is riding the wave of industry that is developing in its wake. In light of a recent European Union arrangement that effectively hindered Greenland’s capacity to build its mackerel fishing industry, the country is eager to exploit its other prospects. Meanwhile, Denmark considers the plans for uranium mining—which will involve companies and investors from other countries—to be under its jurisdiction and authority, not Greenland’s.
Some are worried that Hammond’s “confrontational” nature will complicate matters where cooperation between two parties is crucial. There is already a great deal of opposition to uranium mining operations because residents question the industry’s ability to adequately deal with the toxic wastes that result from such undertakings. Having lost the good favor with the majority of Parliament, Hammond forges on, armed with a mentality that is trying to make the best of global warming.
The Danish NGO, The Ecological Council, has met to discuss the dangers of contamination to the environment. While few Greenlanders are opposed to mining in general, the unfortunate inhabitants near selected mining locations have serious concerns about radioactive waste and other contaminants. What Greenland’s prime minister considers to be an expression of freedom at the hands of global warming is an environmental nightmare for others.
By Courtney Anderson