Vote against rare earth mine in Greenland could have implications for F-35 fighter jets

Published by Brent Patterson on

A Danish F-35 fighter jet.

The EU Observer reports: “Late Tuesday (6 April) evening, expectant Greenlanders received the election results for Inatsisartut, Greenland’s parliament. The left-wing Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) celebrated as it became clear they had gained a clear majority.”

Significantly, that article adds: “According to the US Geological Survey, Greenland has the world’s largest undeveloped deposit of rare-earth minerals.”

The Courthouse News Service further explains: “Rare earth elements are a set of 17 soft heavy metals, such as neodymium and scandium, that go into the making of smartphones, lasers, electric cars, wind turbines and military hardware such as the F-35 fighter jet.”

The Australian mining company Greenland Minerals and Energy acquired the Kvanefjeld (or Kuannersuit) site in southern Greenland in 2007 and applied in 2015 to establish a large-scale open-pit rare earth mineral mine there.

The mine gained preliminary approval in 2020 paving the way for a public hearing.

But the article notes: “By backing the opposition Inuit Ataqatigiit, the mine seems doomed. The left-green Inuit Ataqatigiit campaigned against it and backs a moratorium on uranium mining. It also has pledged to join the Paris climate agreement, a move that could preclude Greenland from developing rare earth mines.”

The Associated Press also notes: “The opposition party has claimed that a majority of Greenland’s 56,000 inhabitants, most of them indigenous Inuit people, are against the project, largely for environmental reasons.”

Rare earth mines and F-35s

The Financial Times has reported: “Fighter jets such as the F-35, a Lockheed Martin aircraft, rely heavily on rare earths for critical components such as electrical power systems and magnets. A Congressional Research Service report said that each F-35 required 417kg [920 pounds] of rare-earth materials.”

Air Force Magazine has also reported: “Each stealthy F-35 strike fighter requires 920 pounds of rare-earth material, according to DOD [Department of Defense].”

Greenland is an autonomous territory within the Kingdom of Denmark.

Lockheed Martin has noted: “Denmark joined the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program in 2002. In June 2016, Denmark confirmed plans to procure 27 F-35As.”

That page adds: “2020: First F-35A for Denmark progressing towards delivery.” A first F-35 may have been delivered to Denmark earlier this month.

The Canadian government is currently considering buying 88 Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets for $19 billion. A decision on that is expected later this year or in early 2022.

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