3.1.11 Mineral Resources
Buried beneath the land north of 60｡? is a magnificent cache of natural resources. The broad, rolling taiga and tundra and the adjacent continental shelf are rich in minerals such as gold, silver, copper, iron, zinc, tin, nickel and diamonds, as well as energy resources such as coal, petroleum and natural gas. Every sort of major natural resource is within easy grasp.
Iron and aluminum are found throughout the Scandinavian and Kola Peninsulas. The Yenisey basin is rich in copper, nickel, platinum and cobalt, while the Mirnyy area in the upper reaches of the Lena are home to large reserves of diamonds. The upper reaches of the Kolyma and the mountains of northwestern Canada produce gold and zinc respectively.
Rich coal deposits are known to be present on the North Slope of Alaska, in the Lena valley and from Dickson to the Taymyr Peninsula; mining is currently active on Spitsbergen and at the Vorkuta mine in the western Yamal Peninsula. Not shown in the illustration is a particularly large find of petroleum in the continental shelf of Canada's Arctic Archipelago. This deposit has been known for some 200 years but was ignored because of the insuperable difficulties of extracting petroleum under conditions of extreme cold, permafrost and sea ice. In 1968 an offshore oil field, believed to contain vast reserves, was discovered at Prudhoe Bay in Alaska. Development planning began immediately, with R&D in icebreaking tankers getting under way the following year, but the project was fraught with difficulties and the development consortium ultimately opted to construct a pipeline instead. To protect the environment in the permafrost area a suspended pipeline was completed, and shipments to the port of Valdez on the south coast of Alaska began almost 10 years after the start of the project in 1977. Meanwhile Canada, reeling from the competition from the Alaska pipeline and the oil crisis of the late 1970s, began exploring for oil and gas fields in the Canadian Beaufort Sea and the Arctic Archipelago, completing many successful test wells. Unfortunately the exploitation of this resource was deemed unlikely to turn a profit and a pipeline was abandoned at the design phase. Russia began producing oil in the Ob delta and the Pechora area in the 1970s, and today transports this oil to the country's central markets via pipeline.