Mining the Arctic for its Mineral Riches

Mining the Arctic

After the Ice: Mineral Riches of the Arctic

Receding Arctic ice is unlocking fathomless mineral resources — if you don’t mind frost and cost.

 90 billion barrels — is the estimated size of undiscovered oil deposits beyond the Arctic Circle.

[i]

That’s equivalent to:

  • 5.9% of world’s known oil reserves
  • 110% of Russia’s reserves
  • 1,677% of Norway’s known reserves
  • 339% of known U.S. reserves
  • 52% of Canada’s known reserves.[ii]

1,669 trillion cubic feet  – the estimated size of natural gas resources

44 billion barrels — the volume of gas liquids[iii]

That’s equivalent to:

  • 24.3% of the world’s known gas reserves
  • 99% of Russia’s known reserves
  •  2,354% of Norway’s reserves
  •  500% of U.S. reserves
  • 2,736% of Canada’s reserves.[iv]

 

84% of hydrocarbon resources lie offshore.[v]

 

 Minerals beyond the Arctic Circle[vi]

Russia (Arctic Siberia):

apatite, ceramic raw materials, coal, cobalt, copper, diamonds, gold, gypsum, iron ores, mica, molybdenum, nickel, palladium, platinum, silver, precious stones, rare metals, tin, titanium, zinc

+ fossil ivory (mammoth tusks from melting permafrost)

$1.5-2 trillion — the estimated value of Russian mineral reserves

U.S. (Alaska):

67 million tons of zinc

67.6 million tons of lead

Canada:

diamond, gold, gypsum, iron ores, lead, salt, uranium, zinc[vii]

Europe:

2,413 million tons of iron (Sweden)

1,000 million tons of iron (Norway)

Greenland:

gold, molybdenum, nickel, platinum group elements, rare earth elements (tantalum, niobium).

 

But before you start crowd-funding your first Arctic mine, consider these icy realities…

 

Main difficulties of Arctic mining[viii]

–          -50 C⁰ in winter          frostbite, mechanical failure, blocked shipping channels

–          Short shipping season          difficult to transport goods and supplies

–          Melting permafrost           built infrastructure crumbles as deep-ground ice melts

–          Summer swamps           drilling and road transport nearly impossible in summer

–          Icebergs           Calving ice sheets a menace sea transport

–          Polar bears        permanent threat to mine staff

–          An iceberg of costs         starting up mine operation may cost $ billions

 

Sources

Energy Studies Institute — The Arctic: an overview

Minerweb.com — Mineral-rich Canadian arctic territory poised for major developments

US Geological Survey:  Circum-Arctic Resource Appraisal: Estimates of Undiscovered Oil and Gas North of the Arctic Circle

US Energy Information Administration — International Energy Statistics

 


[vii] http://www.mineweb.com/mineweb/content/en/mineweb-exploration?oid=134607&sn=Detail

[viii] http://www.mineweb.com/mineweb/content/en/mineweb-exploration?oid=134607&sn=Detail

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By | 2017-03-17T19:54:37+00:00 May 14th, 2014|Categories: Mining Infographics|Tags: |0 Comments

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