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Greenland premier worries about life after mining amid preparations to tap underground wealth

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COPENHAGEN - Greenland's government wants to make sure the sparsely populated Arctic island doesn't get "ripped off" by foreign companies seeking to exploit its natural resources, the new premier said Wednesday.

Aleqa Hammond, whose centre-left Siumut party won a parliamentary election last month, said in Copenhagen that "there is a life after mining" and called for laws that "protect the people, our environment, our health."

The mining industry is looking for opportunities in Greenland, a mostly ice-covered island whose mineral resources are expected to become more accessible as climate change raises temperatures in the Arctic region.

Hammond has called for lifting a ban on uranium mining, but also wants to introduce royalties on the mining industry and revise a law that would allow an influx of foreign labour.

"Our government will in no way slow down the process," she told reporters. "Our government wants to use the time we need so we don't ... get ripped off."

Earlier this month, the government said it won't issue any new licenses for offshore oil exploration, though existing licenses would not be affected.

Greenland is hoping that harvesting the country's mineral wealth will help it achieve full independence from former colonial master Denmark.

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