Thirty-three nations have recommended lifting a ban on mineral exploitation of Antarctica, believed to be rich in gold, oil, coal and other resources.

Approval of a 100-page document called the Antarctic Minerals Convention came despite the objections of environmentalists at a monthlong conference that ended last week.

Chris Beeby, New Zealand's deputy secretary of foreign affairs and chairman of the conference, said the convention offers the strongest protection possible for the unspoiled Antarctic environment.

But the environmental group Greenpeace and other non-governmental groups included in the discussions called the environmental safeguards inadequate.