Karin Buhmann

A growing global market for generic minerals that are used in technical products for the ‘green’ energy transition and the electronic industry holds interesting potential for the Arctic. This article takes Greenland as an example of an Arctic nation which may offer an alternative sourcing country for minerals otherwise known as ‘conflict-minerals’. China’s electronic, solar power and wind energy industries need certain generic minerals for production for the global market. Certain conflict-ridden countries are main sources of some of these minerals, which are known as ‘conflict minerals’ when their trade helps fuel the conflicts. Commitment to fight conflict minerals have led to various guiding normative standards; and the EU and US have introduced requirements on importers and manufacturers to document efforts to avoid conflict-related supply chains. These developments underscore the potential market for deposits elsewhere. China has responded by developing guidelines for minerals supply chains and mining investment. The article explains that these guidelines can apply outside conflict areas and discusses how their connection to other international regulatory instruments for business responsibility for human rights can be deployed by Greenlandic actors to enhance the implementation by Chinese economic entities of Greenlandic policies and national regulation on social sustainability. The article argues that in particular the Chinese guidelines’ reference to the concept of riskbased due diligence, a concept that has been introduced by guidelines from the United Nations (UN) and elaborated in guidelines from the Organisation for Economic Collaboration and Development (OECD) as a company approach for identifying and managing its adverse impacts, may be deployed to complement Greenland’s own regulation on stakeholder engagement.

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