Preparing for Gold Extraction near Jan Mayen

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Preparing for Gold Extraction near Jan Mayen

By Alëx Elliott
Near Ólafsvík

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Very valuable metals, oil and gas are to be found on and under the seabed north of Iceland.

The extraction of seabed gold is already being prepared for between the island of Jan Mayen and Svalbard – both in Norwegian waters. It is believed the value of the gold could be tens of thousands of billions of Icelandic krónur, according to RÚV.

Volcanoes and geothermal hotspots characterize the seabed north of Iceland, and out to Jan Mayen and Svalbard – an area where hot water, ash and gas creates so-called black smokers, or undersea vents. Researchers have found large reserves of gold, nickel, copper and cobalt; as well as lead, zinc and silver.

A large part of the area is under Norwegian jurisdiction and Norwegian mineral companies are now taking part in an international plan for mineral extraction in the area, which is 3,500 meters underwater.

The valuable metals are said to be easier to access than had been expected and it is estimated that commercial production can begin in 10-15 years. Experts at the Norwegian Geological and Petrological Institute believe that valuable metals could be extracted from the sea bed with a total value of about 1,000 billion Norwegian krone, or 19,000 billion Icelandic krónur.

It is believed that the value of minerals extracted will increase rapidly the deeper the seabed excavation goes, and that it could be more valuable to Norway even than oil.

Norway presides over the ocean north and east of Jan Mayen, while Iceland is in charge to the south and west – an area including the Dragon Area, where oil prospecting is in progress. This latest news on valuable metals from Norway is therefore of particular interest to Icelandic authorities.

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