Should we ban mining in Antarctica?

As our resources dry-up companies and countries are beginning to look to the horizon for new opportunities.

Could mining in Antarctica be next?

If the Coalition gets its way the region will be banned from mining forever, with Liberal Senator for Tasmania David Bushby leading a new call to ban resources activity in the region.

While mining is already banned under the Antarctic Treaty according to The Sydney Morning Herald Bushby recently called for the continent to be given a world heritage listing.

Bushby said the listing was "absolutely necessary" to stop mining exploration on the frozen wilderness.

Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke said while he did not necessarily oppose the move it would be difficult to achieve because of the region's legal and political situation.

Antarctica is thought to have reserves of coal, iron ore, oil and gas, and other base minerals, but the deposits are located in largely inhospitable environments that are difficult and costly to reach.

Late last year Australian Mining wrote an in-depth feature on the possibility of mining in Antarctica, where China and Russia have already voiced interest in exploring.

Last year China received approval to explore between Africa and Antarctica, and Russia has already started exploring some regions of the Arctic in the northern hemisphere.

ArcelorMittal also has its sights set on the Arctic Circle, annoucing plans to start construction on a new 'mega mine' in the region next year.

Whether this trend will continue is now the topic of rising debate in the global mining industry.

Is Antarctica and the Arctic a wilderness that should be permanently preserved or a land of new opportunity? Let us know in the comments below.

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