Greenland, which is self – governing dependency of Denmark, owns some of the largest amounts of rare earth elements in the world.
European Commission data indicates Greenland has "strong potential" in six out of the 14 elements listed on the union's critical raw material list. These include rare earths, tantalum and niobium as well as the platinum group metals. Greenland's rare earth resources currently amount to around 10 million tonnes (nine per cent of the earth's total).
Analysts point out that a number of Greenland's significant deposits, such as Kvanefjeld, are in the advanced stage of exploration, meaning the dependency could well be set to become a medium-size supplier.
In recognition of the increased role Greenland is likely to play in the field, London Mining – a company backed by Chinese steelmakers – has sought permission to build a US$2.35bn iron ore mine near the country's capital Nuuk which, if given the green light, would be the biggest industrial development to take place in Greenland.