New research suggests that the seafloor between Jan Mayen and Svalbard likely holds great quantities of mineral and metallic resources like gold, silver and copper. PHOTO: NASA.
New research suggests that the seafloor between Jan Mayen and Svalbard likely holds great quantities of mineral and metallic resources like gold, silver and copper. PHOTO: NASA.

Norwegian sea may hold vast mineral and metal deposits

18-12-2013

by Svein Magnason


New research suggests that the seafloor between Jan Mayen and Svalbard likely holds great quantities of mineral and metallic resources like gold, silver and copper.

The North American and the Eurasian tectonic plates diverge in the west Norwegian Sea, leading to subsurface volcanic activity at the bottom of the ocean. That activity, together with subsequent reactions and pressures, have caused the formation of gold, silver, copper, cobalt and zinc.

Worth 1000 billion

An estimate from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim suggests the value of the resources hidden at the bottom of the Atlantic could be worth roughly NOK 1000 billion. Scientists in Trondheim are now mapping the sea bed between the islands of Jan Mayen and Svalbard.

The work is done in collaboration with Statoil and the mining company Nordic Ocean Resources. Norway's leading expertise in oil exploration can prove valuable to the exploration of new resources at the bottom of the ocean.

Although ocean deep, and far off shore, scientists believe it is possible to form the infrastructure necessary to extract mineral and metallic resources from the sea bed.

Government preparing legal framework

Almost the entire area in question belong the Norway's 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone, as prescribed by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas. Norway therefore has the right to explore and exploit any resources in the area.

The Norwegian government is currently working to establish a legal and procedural framework for the exploitation of subsea resources.

Minister of Trade and Industry Monica Mæland stressed the importance of providing such a framework, both to encourage continued research and attracting international expertise.

"It is important we set up a good framework for a profitable and sustainable exploitation of mineral resources," the minister told NRK Trøndelag.

Read more about metals and minerals in the North Atlantic here.


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