Over the next decade, the Arctic is slated to bring in more than $100 billion in investments for its mining rush. Such an enormous surge in business raises equipment reliability to the top of the priority list.
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the Arctic holds more than a fifth of the world's untapped, recoverable oil and gas resources, as well as significant reserves of rare earth metals, coal, uranium, gold, diamonds, zinc, platinum, nickel and iron ore. To break that down, the polar region holds 13 percent of the globe's undiscovered oil, 30 percent of its untapped natural gas and 20 percent of the available global liquid gas reserves. There's no doubt that the region is quickly becoming an area of strategic importance.
The Mary River project on Baffin Island in particular is considered to harbor one of the world's richest undeveloped iron ore deposits, expecting to produce more than 18 million tons of iron ore per year throughout a 21-year mine life. ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel maker, gained control of the project following an bidding war in 2011. The company currently owns a 70 percent stake in Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.
The melting ice cap in the Arctic has opened up new shipping routes and made riches more accessible. At the same time, however, mining in the region poses big risks for environmental damage.
"Cleaning up any oil spill in the Arctic, particularly in ice-covered areas, would present multiple obstacles, which together constitute a unique and hard-to-manage risk," warns a report by London-based think-tank, Lloyd's/Chatham House.
That's why avoiding major slip-ups before they happen is of utmost importance. As they say, "prevention is the best cure." Utilizing condition monitoring, an equipment monitoring system and load sensors to spot potential problems before they occur could save both time and money.