Many people believe the chilly North Atlantic nation would gain enormous economic benefits by allowing more mining operations, just as it stands to profit from its expanding hydrocarbon explorations. Its economy is currently overly dependent on exporting fish and shrimp.
But as Jorgen T. Hammeken-Holm of Greenland's Bureau of Mineral and Petroleum notes in the Epoch Times story, the country's rare earths occur with uranium, "and with our current zero-tolerance policy (against uranium mining), it means that this deposit cannot be exploited."
That could change this year.
"The Greenlandic Parliament is divided on the issue," the paper reports. "Legislation relating to the country's mining industry will likely figure largely in 2013's parliamentary elections."
It feels like the country is swinging to more permissive mining.
"All are welcome if they meet our conditions and our requirements to operate in Greenland," Prime Minister Kuupik Kleist said in a BBC story last week.
Likewise, a more actively mined Greenland could also yield an alternative nuclear fuel: thorium, the widespread element that trumps uranium's performance in many ways. Greenland has two percent of the world's thorium reserves, according to the World Nuclear Association (thorium exists all over the world, and no country has more than 16 percent of deposits, the WNA figures show).
Thorium commonly occurs in monazite, a mineral that is also rich in rare earth elements (I'm not sure whether Greenland's rare earths come from monazite or other rocks).
Greenland is one of several areas outside of China that holds promise as a supply of rare earths. As I noted last week, Japanese researchers believe they have found a healthy supply of the metals in Jamaica.
For those of you who are regular readers of this blog, yes, Greenland is the place I mentioned that is the "opposite" of Jamaica. No matter what the climate at the source - hot or cold - it certainly does seem that things are heating up on rare earth liberation front.
Photo of Ravnefjeldet (Raven Mountain) in the south of Greenland, by Jensbn via Wikimedia