Greenland bans uranium mining, halting rare earths project

COPENHAGEN, Nov 10 (Reuters) - Greenland's parliament has passed legislation that will ban uranium mining and cease development of the Kuannersuit mine, one of the biggest rare earth deposits in the world.

Kuannersuit, owned by Australian mining firm Greenland Minerals (GGG.AX) and located near the southern town of Narsaq, contains a large deposit of rare earth metals, used to make consumer electronics and weapons, but also radioactive uranium.

The law, passed by parliament late on Tuesday, was put forward by the Inuit Ataqatigiit party that came to power in April after campaigning to ban uranium mining and halt the Kuannersuit project, also known as Kvanefjeld.

The new law bans exploration of deposits with a uranium concentration higher than 100 parts per minute (ppm), which is considered very low-grade by the World Nuclear Association.

Greenland Minerals had been on track to gain final approval for the mine under the previous government, but locals fear it could harm the country's fragile environment if developed.

The law also includes the option of banning the exploration of other radioactive minerals such as thorium.

China is the dominant producer of rare earths, a group of 17 specialized minerals. In September it hiked its annual output quotas amid tight supply for manufacturers. read more

Demand for rare earth permanent magnets, key for electric vehicles (EVs) and wind turbines, is set to soar with greater efforts to cut carbon emissions. read more The United States has urged its allies to help increase supply. read more

Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; editing by Philippa Fletcher

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