GREENLAND IN FOCUS

Until recently, Greenland had a decades-long practice of not allowing the exploration and extraction of uranium. On 24 October 2013 the Greenland parliament, Inatsisartut, lifted the so-called ‘zero tolerance policy’ on mining radioactive elements, thereby eliminating an immediate hurdle to mining rare earths and other minerals that coexist with significant concentrations of uranium and thorium. Much of the current debate on uranium in Greenland focuses on clarifying issues of competences and authorities between Greenland and Denmark. The two, along with the Faroe Islands, are linked within the ‘Commonwealth of the Realm’, or Rigsfællesskab, where the overseas islands enjoy autonomous authority in domestic affairs while Denmark remains constitutionally responsible for foreign, defense, security and monetary affairs. With the 2009 Act on Greenland Self-Government, Greenland ‘took home’ more authorities from Denmark, including full authority over its natural resources. Mining licenses for extraction of uranium will not be issued until Greenland and Denmark have set up a jointly administered system for governing its production and export.