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Greenland polling stations close in election on how to handle rich natural resources

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COPENHAGEN - Voting stations across Greenland have closed in an election to renew the semi-autonomous territory's 31-seat Parliament amid a debate over how to handle potentially vast mineral wealth.

Ballots will decide whether left-leaning Premier Kuupik Kleist or his challenger Aleqa Hammond — who would be Greenland's first female head of government — will be able to form a new Cabinet.

Kleist wants to maintain a zero-tolerance policy on mining radioactive minerals, a byproduct of extracting rare earth metals, while Hammond is prepared to tap them.

Many Greenlanders would like to use the resources as a way to reduce dependency on Denmark, which currently subsidizes two-thirds of the ice-capped island's economy. Developing a mining industry, however, would require inviting thousands of guest workers, a sensitive topic among the population of 57,000.

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