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Unlocking Greenland’s strategic mineral potential for transatlantic energy security

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In the global race for green resources, the United States and the European Union have an opportunity to collaborate on Greenland’s substantial mineral wealth. Former US President Donald Trump’s failed attempt to purchase Greenland in 2019 highlighted the strategic importance of the island, which holds vast reserves crucial for clean energy technologies. Despite historical overtures, the real value lies not in acquisition but in sustainable development.

Greenland, with a population of just 57,000, gained autonomy in 1979 and control over its subsoil resources in 2010, including rare earth elements, graphite and lithium essential for electric vehicles, wind turbines, and other clean energy infrastructure. Current supply chains, dominated by countries like China, pose significant security risks due to reliance on imported minerals critical to national economies.

Recognizing these vulnerabilities, G7 nations are pursuing “friendshoring” strategies to secure mineral supply chains outside China. In 2022, the Biden administration launched the Minerals Security Partnership, aiming to safeguard supply for the energy transition. Greenland’s potential contributions are substantial: its known graphite resources alone could surpass forecasted global demand for electric vehicles by 2040.

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Political support in Greenland for mining development is strong, although challenges remain, such as infrastructure limitations and environmental concerns. Despite these hurdles, Greenland’s stable political climate and supportive government make it an attractive partner for US and EU investment.

China’s interest in Greenland underscores its strategic value in the Polar Silk Road initiative. In response, the EU has initiated a minerals partnership with Greenland, focusing on securing critical supplies for clean energy. The US, through initiatives like the Enterprise-Driven Growth Initiative, aims to strengthen commercial ties and support Greenland’s economic independence.

Moving forward, coordinated efforts between the US, EU, and Greenland should focus on reducing investment barriers, enhancing resource mapping, and addressing labor challenges. Technical assistance from institutions like the US Geological Survey can support resource assessments, while financial instruments from the US Export-Import Bank and European Investment Bank can facilitate private sector investment in Greenland’s mining sector.

By leveraging Greenland’s mineral wealth responsibly, the US and EU can bolster their energy security and reduce dependence on geopolitical rivals. A strategic mineral partnership with Greenland represents a pivotal opportunity for transatlantic collaboration in advancing sustainable energy solutions and securing critical mineral supply chains for the future.

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