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Patterns of Economic Development


The recovery of minerals is an important industry in several parts of the Arctic regions. In Russia, nickel, iron ore, and apatite are produced on the Kola Peninsula, and diamonds are mined in the Lena River valley. Other major mineral products in the Russian Arctic include gold, tin, coal, mica, and tungsten. Sweden has produced iron ore at Kiruna and elsewhere north of the Arctic Circle since about 1900, and Norway has an important iron-ore mine on its northern coast at Kirkenes. Lead, zinc, and molybdenum are produced in Greenland, which formerly recovered much cryolite at Ivigtut. Large coal mines are on Spitsbergen, one of the islands of Svalbard. Mineral products of the Canadian Arctic include uranium, copper, nickel, lead, zinc, asbestos, iron ore, diamonds, petroleum, and natural gas.

Major interest has focused on petroleum and natural gas deposits in the Arctic, particularly as milder temperatures and reduced ice resulting from global warming may make locating and extracting such resources easier in the future. Large-scale production of petroleum on the Arctic North Slope of Alaska began in 1977. A proposal in 1987 by the administration of Ronald Reagan to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development met with strong opposition from various environmental organizations. Russia has made claims to areas of the seabed near the North Pole that may hold 10 billion barrels of petroleum. Norway has announced plans to drill for natural gas in the Barents Sea.

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