Melting Arctic ice may lead to new shipping routes, natural resourcesAs the Arctic ice melts, nations across the globe are getting ready to take advantage of the plentiful natural resources and new shipping routes. The melting has the potential to benefit these countries greatly, and they are eager to explore the possibilities the region has to offer.

New shipping routes opened
The large sheet of Arctic ice has long hindered shipping efforts across the globe. Because this ice is melting at a rapid rate, it is creating new shipping routes. These shortcuts have the potential to get raw materials and goods to their final destinations much faster than they could have arrived in the past. The shorter distance also means suppliers can enjoy greater cost savings, as they spend less on fuel.

Valuable resources unearthed
Just as important as the potential new shipping routes are the increasing discoveries of valuable mineral deposits in Greenland. The shrinking ice cap has revealed large amounts of rare metals and minerals across the island.

Many of these natural minerals are crucial to manufacturing technological goods such as cell phones and military guidance systems. The new discoveries could lead to more efficient sourcing practices for companies with production facilities close to the Arctic and a lower direct material cost.

It is estimated that more than 20 percent of the planet's oil reserves are in the Arctic. With this statistic in mind, oil and gas companies are exploring potential new reserves further north. Some drilling corporations hope to benefit from big new oil discoveries as the ice continues to melt. This could reduce the cost of energy needed to ship goods across the world.

Many countries have Arctic interests
Countries from across the globe have been paying more attention to Arctic nations as shipping routes open and valuable minerals are unearthed. The New York Times reported that in the past year and a half, Greenland has seen an increase in diplomatic visits from the U.S., China, South Korea and the European Union. China is hoping to see a benefit from the discovery, and is investing in mines in Greenland as a goodwill gesture.

"We are treated so differently than just a few years ago," said Greenland's vice premier, Jens Frederiksen, according to The New York Times. "We are aware that is because we now have something to offer, not because they've suddenly discovered that Inuit are nice people."

In the past few years, multiple countries have applied to join the Arctic Council at permanent observer status. This would allow them to present their opinions about Arctic issues, but they would be prevented from voting on important issues. Countries are pressing for inclusion in the council to increase their Arctic presence and potentially access the new benefits the region has to offer.
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