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Volume 171: debated on Friday 4 May 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further protection will be given to Antarctica when the Antarctic minerals convention is ratified.

The Antarctic treaty system currently provides no formal means of protecting the Antarctic environment against mineral activities.The Antarctic minerals convention (CRAMRA) would provide for a rigorous regulatory mechanism to control, or prevent, mineral exploration and development. Consent to proceed with any mineral activity would, under CRAMRA, be permitted only after consensus agreement by all Antarctic treaty consultative parties (numbering 22) and then only if the activity in question was judged not to have a significant impact on the environment. CRAMRA incorporates some of the strictest environmental protection provisions known in international law and its ratification would greatly enhance existing provisions for the protection of the Antarctic environment.