Saturday, December 4, 2021

Five Eyes urged to strengthen ties with Greenland to secure vital rare earths

China controls about 90% of the supply of the world’s rare earths, which are essential for many modern systems.

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The intelligence sharing alliance known as Five Eyes should strenghten their ties with Greenland to boost supplies of critical minerals and cut dependence on China as the major source, a think tank said on Thursday.

Greenland has huge deposits of rare earths, which are a set of 17 vital minerals used in a huge number of modern applications from electric vehicles to the latest weaponry, a report by the London-based Polar Research and Policy Initiative said.

China controls about 90% of the supply of the world’s rare earths.

The Five Eyes partners are an alliance of the anglophone countries Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the US.

The report says the alliance should expand its framework to include “resource intelligence, technical collaboration, major project financing and supply chain integration for minerals and materials critically important to national and economic security”.

It is natural for the Five Eyes to target Greenland for its mining and rare earth potential because nearly 70% of the 41 mining sector licence holders in Greenland are connected to Britain, Canada and Australia, the report added.

“Greenland’s vast critical minerals reserves and the sheer number of British, Canadian and Australian companies operating in Greenland make it a new frontier for Five Eyes,” said the report, made available to Reuters ahead of its release on Friday.

US President Joe Biden’s administration said last month it will review key supplies, including rare earths, to ensure other countries cannot weaponise them against the US.

Two Australia-based mining companies are racing for approval for mines in Greenland to exploit what the US Geological Survey calls the world’s biggest undeveloped deposits of rare earth metals.

“The UK, Canada and Australia have remained relevant to Greenland over recent decades as home to some of the world’s leading clusters of energy and mining expertise,” the report said.

Rare earths are among the most critical raw materials on the planet, used in everything from lithium-ion batteries to electric vehicles, wind turbines and missile guidance systems.

They’re also frequent components of everyday objects like the light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, used in smartphone screens.

They represent a vulnerability for the US, which is 80% reliant for rare earths on imports from China, and also for Europe.

The world’s other large reserves of rare earths can be found in Brazil, Vietnam and Russia.

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