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International Law on Antarctic Mineral Resource Exploitation

Runyu Wang

This book analyzes the legal regime of the exploitation of the mineral resources in the Antarctic. Therefore, it elaborates on the development of the Antarctic Treaty and the Antarctic Treaty System (ATS). The author examines the history and influence of the Convention for the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities (CRAMRA), which purpose it is to prohibit unregulated mineral resource activities in Antarctica, and its provisions are extremely strict with the aim of environmental protection. Through analyzing and comparing the CRAMRA and the 1991 Environmental Protocol, the book concludes that it is not beyond credulity to imagine that a new round of discussion on Antarctic mineral exploration will be held in the near future.

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A.   Antarctic Geography

Antarctica is a huge continent with an area of about 136,600,000 square kilometres1, and a coastal line of approximately 14,000 miles.2 The Antarctic consists of a polar continent surrounded by an ice-covered ring of ocean waters in which lie scattered islands group, some polar, others sub-polar in character.3 Except for a small part of the peninsula and the archipelagoes immediately around it beyond 65°S, almost the entire Antarctic continent lies within the Antarctic Circle (John S. Cumpston said 66°30’S, Roberto Bargagli said 66°33’S4).

It was Nordenskjöld, in 1903, who first divided the Antarctic into West and East parts in order to facilitate research. According to his method, the Antarctic continent is divided by a line running along the western boundary of the Ross Ice Shelf, north of the Horlick Mountains and the Pensacola Range, and along the eastern edge of the Filchner Ice Shelf.5 Generally speaking, the part south of Australia, Africa, and the Indian Ocean is East Antarctica, and the part of the continent lying south of the Americas constitutes what is referred to as West Antarctica.6 East Antarctica is generally extended beyond the limits of the eastern hemisphere to include the geographic pole and a portion of land extending up to the great Antarctic Horst7, and comprises the Trans-Antarctic Mountains, a large mountain range stretching for 3,500 kilometers from Victoria Land to the Pensacola Mountains, an extremely ← 15 | 16 → compact land...

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