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Observing trends and assessing data for Arctic mining

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This paper reviews and assesses the state of data to describe and monitor mining trends in the pan-Arctic and their social effects, and discusses drivers of change in Arctic mining. Trends in mining activity can be characterized as stasis or decline in mature regions of the Arctic, with strong growth in the frontier regions. World prices and the availability of large, undiscovered and untapped resources with favorable access and low political risk are the biggest drivers for Arctic mining, while climate change is a minor and locally variable factor. The widely available measures of mineral production and value are poor proxies for social and economic effects on Arctic communities. Historical data on mineral production and value are unavailable in electronic format for much of the Arctic, specifically Scandinavia and Russia; completing the historical record back to 1980 will require work with paper archives. The most critically needed improvement in data collection and reporting is to develop comparable measures of employment. The eight Arctic countries each use different definitions of employment and different methodologies to collect the data. Furthermore, many countries do not report employment by county and industry, so the Arctic share of mining employment cannot be identified.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Institute of Social and Economic Research,University of Alaska Anchorage, Alaska, USA

Publication date: March 1, 2011


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