A new study has found that the icy mountains of Antarctica may contain diamonds. The findings of the study are published in the journal Nature Communications.
Australian scientists have uncovered kimberlite rock that is known to have the precious diamonds. They found three samples of kimberlite around Mount Meredith, in the Prince Charles Mountains in East Antarctica. The rock is named after the South African town of Kimberley, which is famous for its diamonds.
Although no diamonds were found at the site, researchers are confident that the precious gems exist in the deposits. "It would be very surprising if there weren't diamonds in these kimberlites," lead researcher Greg Yaxley, of the Australian National University in Canberra, told Reuters.
However, recovering the deposits is not possible as mining is banned in Antarctica. According to the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (1991), the continent could be explored for scientific purposes but mining is banned for at least 50 years until 2041 when the treaty is up for review and might be subjected to change, reported BBC.
"We do not know what the Treaty Parties' views will be on mining after 2041 or what technologies might exist that could make extraction of Antarctic minerals economically viable," Dr Kevin Hughes, from the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, was quoted as saying by BBC.
"An additional issue is that nations outside the Protocol are not bound by its provisions, including the ban on mineral resource activities," he said.
The Antarctic Treaty has 50 signatory nations, including major powers the United States and China.