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Miners watch Greenland parliamentary vote

Greenland votes on Tuesday amid rising commodity prices which locals hope will lead to investment.With melting ice expanding access to the Arctic, investors from China to Canada are watching Greenland’s election for signs of the political will to get a flagging mining program on the island back on track.
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Greenland is hoping rising commodity prices can help attract foreign investment and get its fragile economy up to speed to realise a long-term goal of independence from Denmark.

Hype about a possible mining boom in Greenland after it achieved self-rule from Denmark in 2009 faded in a morass of red tape and a commodity price slump around five years ago. It left the economy reliant on fishing and grants from Denmark.

But with the country’s sole producing mine starting up last year – a ruby pink sapphire mine operated by Norway’s LNS Group – and Canada’s Hudson Resource’s anorthosite project due to begin operations this year, locals are again hoping more investments will follow.

Improved access to and from the Arctic island as the ice melts, and a more favourable investment climate, would go some way to alleviate the barriers to business of perpetual winter darkness and temperatures reaching as low as minus 50C.

With that in mind, a central theme for the new government elected on Tuesday will be to decide whether it wants to shift focus away from Denmark and strengthen economic and diplomatic ties with other countries, including China.

Chinese interest in Greenland comes after Beijing laid out its ambitions to form a “Polar Silk Road” by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming and encouraging enterprises to build infrastructure in the Arctic.

The main contenders to lead the next government are Prime Minister Kim Kielsen of the social-democratic Siumut party and Sara Olsvig of the left-wing Inuit Ataqatigiit party (IA).

The most recent poll shows that the two parties are likely to continue working together in a coalition.

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