001 - Mineral extraction in cold environments

Geographic knowledge and understanding

Human and physical opportunities and challenges for mineral extraction in cold environments, including inaccessibility, permafrost and resource nationalism.

Key Concepts

Do those who benefit from the opportunities presented by the oil and gas reserves in northern Alaska have more power than those who face most of the challenges?


  • To be able to describe and explain the opportunities and challenges for oil extraction in northern Alaska.

Key Terminology

            • Energy superpower
            • Nationalism
            • Inaccessibility

Define the words above by using the useful links below:

Useful Links

Activity One - Location

We are going to be investigating the extraction of oil in Alaska for this syllabus point. The syllabus specifically asks for a case study when looking at resource extraction and therefore you will need to collate enough information to be able to write a whole essay on it. The profit made from the oil extraction business in Alaska is more than than total made from fishing, furs, deforestation and other minerals such as copper that can be extracted. But who is impacted by the extraction? Before we look at the how and who we need to look at the where. One of the key geographical skills is to be able to draw a simple locational sketch map.

          1. Draw a sketch map of Alaska along with the route of the pipeline.
          2. Write a description of what the landscape looks like.
          3. Why is the area classified as extreme?

Every map needs:

                    • Title
                    • Box around the map
                    • Key
                    • Compass Points
                    • Scale
                    • Should cover at least half a page

Activity Two - Opportunities

Now you know where the pipeline is located we need to look at why the pipeline was developed. What were the key opportunities in Alaska that made the building of the pipeline a realistic opportunity? You need to consider why was it important to have access to the oil.

Activity Three - Challenges

There are many challenges for the pipeline to develop and it is not just down to the climate. Copy the table below and fill in a description of the challenges that the development of the pipeline has created.

Mineral Extraction in Cold Environments

Useful Resources

Exam Style Question

Using a named example, examine the opportunities and challenges associated with mineral extraction in a periglacial environment. [10 marks]

This lesson was development in collaboration with Richard Allaway from geographyalltheway. For more resources please visit www.geographyalltheway.com