Canada's Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced on Aug. 26 an ambitious plan to discover and tap mineral, oil and gas riches believed to be hidden beneath the cool Arctic.
"We know from over a century of northern resource exploration that there is gas in the Beaufort (Sea), oil in the Eastern Arctic, and gold in the Yukon," Harper told reporters.
He also said diamonds and other "precious resources" are buried under the ice.
"What we've found so far is merely the tip of the iceberg," Harper said.
He added that "with the retreat of polar ice, increasing navigability of the Northwest Passage and the growing global interest in Arctic resources, Canada faces unprecedented opportunities, but also unprecedented challenges in the North."
The government's plan is to use "state of the art geological science and technology to map the energy and mineral potential of the North."
Researchers on the ground and aboard aircraft fitted with specialized sensors are to gather data on the geological characteristics of Canada's three northern territories: the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
The information, combined with local Inuit's intimate knowledge of their environment, will then be used to create geological models of the Arctic to help firms "find the treasures buried there."
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008