For the first time, evidence has been found that points to the existence of buried diamonds in frozen mountains in Antarctica, but actual mining may be difficult, BBC news reported Tuesday.
Traces of a substance called Group One kimberlites, commonly known to be indicators of diamond deposits, were found in Antarctica. The substance has led to significant diamond discoveries in other parts of the world.
Dr. Teal Riley, a survey geologist with the British Antarctic Survey, warned that actual extraction may not take place because “only 10 percent or so (of Group One kimberlites) are economically viable.”
Apart from the practical barriers, there are legal barriers to overcome before mining can be started at the South Pole. The Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty of 1991 bans the extraction of mineral resources, except for scientific purposes.
Dr. Kevin Hughes from the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research said the extraction will take place after the treaty parties express their views, and the decision also depends on whether feasible technologies can be found.
The research team, which included Dr. Riley, reported the discovery of the samples in the journal Nature Communications.
By Yoon Ha-youn and news reports