Greenland ruling party has most votes in election tracked by Canadian mining firms, China
The coalition that is formed could affect the rate of mining investment and autonomy from Denmark
Greenland Prime Minister Kim Kielsen's Siumut party won the most votes in a parliamentary election, results showed on Wednesday, though it lost ground to centrist rivals.
Dog sleds had to ferry voting papers to polling stations across the sparely populated country for Tuesday's vote. Surveys suggested that the 40,769 eligible voters were most interested in improving poor infrastructure and boosting an economy that depends on fishing and annual grants from Denmark.
The social-democratic Siumut party won 27 per cent of votes, down from 34 per cent four years ago. That sets the stage for coalition talks with either the left-wing Inuit Ataqatigiit (IA) party or Demokraterne, which emerged as the third biggest party with 20 per cent, taking votes from both Siumut and IA.
Greenland, a part of the Kingdom of Denmark but with self-rule since 2009, relies on fishing and annual grants from Denmark.
Investors from China to Canada were said to be watching Greenland's election for signs of the political will to get a flagging mining programme on the island back on track.
Greenland is hoping rising commodity prices can help attract foreign investment and get its fragile economy up to speed to realize the goal of independence.
Hype about a possible mining boom in Greenland after it achieved self-rule from Denmark in 2009 faded in a morass of red tape and a commodity price slump around five years ago. It left the economy reliant on fishing and grants from Denmark.
But with the country's sole producing mine starting up last year — a ruby pink sapphire mine operated by Norway's LNS Group — and Canada's Hudson Resource's anorthosite project due to begin operations this year, locals are again hoping more investments will follow.
Improved access to and from the Arctic island as the ice melts, and a more favourable investment climate, would go some way to alleviate the barriers to business of perpetual winter darkness and temperatures reaching as low as minus 50 Celsius.
Chinese interest in Greenland comes after Beijing laid out its ambitions to form a "Polar Silk Road" by developing shipping lanes opened up by global warming and encouraging enterprises to build infrastructure in the Arctic.
"A new government led by Kielsen and Siumut but without IA will create more openness towards attracting investments, including from China," said Rasmus Leander Nielsen, assistant professor at the University of Greenland in Nuuk.
"IA is more skeptical. They want mining activity, but have more emphasis on the environment," Nielsen said.