Greenland set to restore uranium mining ban

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Greenland’s parliament, the Inatsisartut, is expected to pass a bill reinstating a ban on uranium mining that was lifted in 2013 following pressure from mining companies.

“The Greenlandic minister with responsibility for minerals has publicly stated that a ban on uranium mining will put an end to all future uranium mining, full stop,” Mariane Paviasen, a Greenland MP and leading activist in the anti-uranium mining movement, Urani? Naamik (Uranium? No), told Green Left.

Paviasen was elected to the Inatsisartut in a snap election in April, as a candidate of the Inuit Ataqatigiit (Community for the People) party (IA). IA explicitly campaigned on a platform opposing a giant open-cut mine proposed for Kvanefjeld (Kuannersuit in Greenlandic) by controversial Australian company Greenland Minerals Ltd (GML).

Overturning Greenland’s uranium mining ban

According to Danish environmentalists, GML was instrumental in overturning Greenland’s uranium mining ban. It promoted the uranium mine as one of the biggest in the world, back in 2007, but now promotes Kvanefjeld as a Rare Earths mine, which will produce uranium as a by-product. It plans to dump uranium-rich mine waste in Lake Taseq, above the small township of Narsaq, where Paviasen lives. According to NOAH (Danish Friends of the Earth) campaigner Niels Henrik Hooge, this has been GML´s strategy for almost a decade and that of Greenland´s former government.

“It has no credibility with the public, considering that the recent general elections more or less were a referendum on Kvanefjeld and perceived as a ‘uranium election’,” Hooge told GL.

The uranium deposit in Kvanefjeld is considered by GML to be the second largest in the world, surpassed only by Australia’s Olympic Dam uranium mine. While uranium prices have fallen dramatically since the Fukushima reactor disaster, moves to push nuclear energy as a “solution” to global warming may be already pushing the price up.

Furthermore, if GML imagines that presenting its Rare Earths mining project somehow makes it more “green”, this is false. According to GML’s own estimates, the mine would raise Greenland’s carbon dioxide emissions by 45%.

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