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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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Part 2: CRAMRA


← 86 | 87 →

Part 2:   CRAMRA

Despite being mentioned at the Antarctic Treaty Conference, the original Atlantic Treaty does not deal with mineral exploration and exploitation.440 CRAMRA, as a component of the Antarctic Treaty System, fills a gap in the system. CRAMRA covers mineral resources, meaning all non-living natural, non-renewable resources, including fossil fuels, metallic and non-metallic minerals.441 Although it failed to enter into force, it is still worth intensive study to draw out the lessons which might be useful for a future mineral resources regime. CRAMRA not only provides the general principles for mining activities in Antarctica, it also establishes institutions and regulates operational provisions.

A.   Background

I.   Preface to Mining Negotiations

The issue of Antarctic mineral resources was first considered by the VI Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (hereafter ATCM) in 1970; however, due to a lack of the necessary technologies and economic support, it was only raised at an informal session.442 That it was raised at all can be partially attributed to claims by several representatives that their governments had received inquiries regarding Antarctic mineral resources from private firms.443 The fresh and sensitive nature of the subject ← 87 | 88 → may go some way to explaining why the Report and Recommendations of the VI ATCM do not address the mineral issue.444

The VII ATCM, first put the topic “Antarctic Resource – Effects of Mineral Exploration” on the meeting’s agenda in 1972. This meeting also saw the adoption of Recommendation...

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