Greenland on Tuesday went to the polls after an election campaign focused on a disputed mining project in the autonomous Danish territory.
Snow fell over the capital, Nuuk, as voters lined up at polling stations, with about 40,000 people eligible to vote in the legislative elections.
Greenland’s two main parties are divided on whether to authorize a giant rare earth and uranium mining project, which is the subject of public hearings.
Supporters, including the ruling Siumut party, say that the mine would yield an economic windfall.
Opponents, such as the opposition Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) party, argue that it might harm the island’s environment.
“I’m voting for a party that says no to uranium,” 40-year-old Henrik Jensen told reporters as he left a polling station.
Greenland’s geostrategic location and massive mineral reserves have raised international interest.
The election campaign for parliament’s 31 seats has also centered on fishing, the main driver of Greenland’s economy.
Social issues and cultural identity have also been part of the debate.
Polling stations closed at 8pm throughout Greenland, but in Nuuk, officials kept the doors open a while longer as latecomers were still lining up outside in the early evening.
Preliminary results were expected overnight.
University of Greenland political scientist Rasmus Leander Nielsen told reporters that the most likely scenario was “that IA forms a coalition with one or two smaller parties.”
“It’s up to the voters now,” Inuit Ataqatigiit chairman Mute Egede said. “If they choose us, we are ready to start working from day one to build a coalition that can govern the country for the next four years.”
Inuit Ataqatigiit has called for a moratorium on uranium mining, which would effectively put a halt to the mining project.
The Kuannersuit deposit, in the island’s south, is considered one of the world’s richest in uranium and rare earth minerals — a group of 17 metals used as components in everything from smartphones to electric vehicles and weapons.
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