Antarctic Treaty nations took a big step toward banning mining on the planet's last unspoiled continent at a meeting in Madrid that ended Tuesday. Delegates said the eight-day meeting produced a blueprint for a ban that they expect to be adopted June 23, the 30th anniversary of the treaty.

"It is a ban that will last at least 50 years ... but there is the opportunity for future generations to change it if they choose," US chief delegate Curtis Bohlen said. "It is not a permanent ban."

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