Here is a discussion on the issue of the potential for mining in Antarctica from ABC radio.
I truly hope that Antarctica remains set aside for peace and science into the future. The ABC article assumes that the Madrid Protocol (the environmental protection protocol which prohibits mining) will be reviewed in 2048. However the ban on mining is indefinite.
This is what the Australian Antarctic Division states on their web site:
“The Madrid Protocol prohibits mining. The ban is of indefinite duration and strict rules for modifying the ban are provided. In brief, the prohibition can be modified at any time if all parties agree. If requested, after 50 years a review conference may decide to modify the mining prohibition, provided that at least three quarters of the current Consultative Parties agree, a legal regime for controlling mining is in force, and the sovereign interests of parties are safeguarded.“
You can what read my colleagues and I believe are major the conservation issues facing Antarctica in our Science policy forum piece here.