After six years of negotiation the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties (ACTPs) reached agreement on a Convention for the Regulation of Antarctic Mineral Resource Activities (CRAMRA). The agreement is not a code of detailed regulations, but rather a set of standards and criteria upon which decisions about possible future Antarctic mineral resource activities must be based. Five institutions are established to administer the entire process. Activities must proceed in three distinct stages: prospecting, exploration and development. No activity can proceed beyond prospecting unless there is a unanimous decision by the Commission to open an area for exploration and possible development. Decisions for mineral resource activity cannot be made until there is adequate informat10n to make informed judgements on the possible environmental impacts. No activity can ta~e place unless the technology and procedures are available to: meet the strict standards of the treaty, to monitor the impact of the activity, and to respond effectively to accidents. The agreement contains many restraints and controls on mineral resource activities. Any operation that poses an environmental threat can be shut down. It 1S apparent from all the checks and balances in the convention that it is not an open invitation to develop the mineral resources of Antarctica. Although the future of the agreement is somewhat clouded, what is clear is that it will be many years before there is any significant mineral resource activity in Antarctica, if ever.
Antarctic Treaty: An international treaty for the preservation and protection of Antarctica. The Treaty dedicates Antarctica to peace and peaceful pursuits. The Treaty was brought into force in 1961 with 12 nations as the original signatories: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, France, Japan, Nell Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Soviet Union, Un1ted Kingdom and United States.