In August 2019, President Trump announced to the world that he would like the USA to buy Greenland. His plans were quickly and scathingly dismissed by various politicians in Denmark, as Greenland is an autonomous Danish territory (Box 1). The former Danish prime minister, Lars Rasmussen, tweeted ‘It must be an April Fool’s Day joke…but totally out of season’. Greenland’s premier at the time, Kim Kielsen, stated ‘Greenland is not for sale’. On the other hand, the Wall Street Journal reported that Mr Trump had spoken about the purchase with ‘varying degrees of seriousness’. What lay behind the president’s curious and provocative statement?
A few weeks before President Trump’s announcement, he was visited at the White House by Greg Barnes, an Australian geologist. The Barnes Family Trust are 100% owners of the Australian mining company Rimbal, which has been involved in the mining of gold, silver, coal, platinum, and rare earths in several places across the globe. In 2010, Rimbal had set up a subsidiary, Tanbreez, which made an application in 2012 to mine a range of rare earths (including dysprosium, zirconium, and tantalum) and uranium, in southern Greenland.
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