Australian-led Research Team Proves Diamonds Exist in Antarctica

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By Reissa Su | December 18, 2013 3:23 PM EST

Antarctica does not only have ice but diamonds as well. According to scientists, they have found evidence of a type of rock known to contain precious gems like diamonds under the ice.

The recent discovery proves to be exciting as more is revealed about Antarctica's mineral resources. Recovering any of the newly identified rock is currently forbidden by authorities. Mining in the hopes of finding diamonds is banned.

Researchers have not found diamonds yet, but they remain confident that the precious stones exist. Lead researcher Greg Yaxley from the the Australian National University in Canberra, said it would be surprising for the scientists if they didn't find diamonds in the rocks known as kimberlites.

According to a report published in the Nature Communications journal, the Australian-led research team discovered kimberlite deposits in the vicinity of Mount Meredith in East Antarctica's Prince Charles Mountains.

Kimberlite is described as a rare mineral deposit or rock in which diamonds can be found. Despite the confirmation of scientists, Antarctica will not see its own diamond rush as the continent is protected by a treaty that all wildlife and discoveries shall only be for scientific research. The 1991 environmental treaty prohibits mining in Antarctica for at least 50 years.

Other geologists like the Teal Riley of the British Antarctic Survey said he doubts there is significant commercial value in the discovery of kimberlites. He said less 10 per cent of similar rocks were found to have some economic value.

The Antarctic Treaty is binding on the 50 signatories, but it has gained the support of major economic and military superpowers, including China and the United States. Reports said that the mining ban may be extended in 2041.

Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research head Kevin Hughes said there was no guarantee of the future since diamonds are being mined in the cold regions of Siberia and Northern Canada.

The world demand for diamonds may be greater than supply in the coming years with no new mines to get the precious stones. The last major find for mining was in 1997 in Zimbabwe with Rio Tinto's Murrow mine. 

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