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Environmental and government accountability groups are calling on the Greenland government to heed the recommendations of last week’s expert report casting doubt on the country’s ability to use mining revenues to fund independence.
The report, iussed by the universities of Copenhagen and Greenland, concluded that long-term cost of being an independent state was far greater than the value of the country’s proven mineral deposits. It urged the self-governing member of the Danish Kingdom to take a go-slow approach to developing its mining industry.
“The Self-Rule Authority should be far more decisive in its actions,” said Jon Burgwald, an Arctic issues spokesperson for Greenpeace. “They need to control the development of their mining industry, not the other way around.”
The report also criticised what it found was a lack of public involvement in the decision-making process leading up to a decision about whether to approve mining activity.
The same concern has been expressed by a coalition of NGOs made up of the World Wildlife Foundation, Transparency International and the Inuit Circumpolar Council.
“There is a dire need to make it easier for people to speak their mind about mining projects,” said Anders Meilvang, the head of Transparency International Greenland.
The coalition was established with the primary goal of increasing public involvement in government decision-making in Greenland. Its member organisations said they hoped the recommendation would lead to better collaboration with the Self-Rule Authority, particiluarly after a decision by the government to slash public funding for the ICC’s Greenlandic chapter by 80 percent.
Meilvang said he was also pleased that the report called for establishing a natural-resources council that would include mining firms, NGOs and scientists to ensure that regulators were not relying solely on input from mining firms.
Independent assessment Currently, mining firms must carry out studies assessing the environmental and social impacts of their operations before being granted a licence.
Meilvang suggested that the proposed natural-resources council be made responsible for co-ordinating those assessments.
“We need to make sure that the information we get is impartial,” he said. “Mining firms should still pay to have them carried out, but they ought to be requested by an independent natural-resources council or a government authority that isn’t a part of the Minerals Ministry.”