Space Mining: Taking the Mining Industry to the Next Level
For some it sounds like a ridiculous fantasy. Others believe it is a distant, but possible, reality.
And then there are those that believe that it is an inevitability. Something that will not only be possible, but is coming sooner than many think.
If I’m being honest, I probably fall into the latter group.
Part of the reason for that is because I’m somewhat of an optimist when it comes to space. I firmly believe that humanity’s future lies beyond the confines of Earth. In whatever way this may materialise.
I’m not saying we should give up on our home planet. I’m simply saying that as a species, we would likely benefit from journeying further into space.
By now I think most people will agree with that. It’s just that it’s not exactly a priority for your everyday individual.
There’s a reason we still refer to space as the ‘final frontier’. It is an environment that few have explored and today still seems so far out of reach.
But, my point is, that will change.
Space will gradually become an important part of wider society. Not just something to be explored, but a source of benefit for humanity.
And the first step toward this future will likely start with space mining. A logical starting point that will allow us to hunt for resources beyond the confines of our own planet.
Sounds like a sci-fi pipe dream, right? Well, you might be surprised…
Lunar land grab
This week Reuters reported that Trump is laying the groundwork to mine the moon.
The US government is apparently preparing an agreement known as the ‘Artemis Accords’. A pact that would effectively give the US and a select group allied nations land rights over parts of the moon.
As Reuters details:
‘The Artemis Accords, named after the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s [NASA] new Artemis moon program, propose “safety zones” that would surround future moon bases to prevent damage or interference from rival countries or companies operating in close proximity.
‘The pact also aims to provide a framework under international law for companies to own the resources they mine, the sources said.’
In other words, it will formally layout how and who owns what on the moon. Because as you may not know, the laws in space are very dated and very vague.
Currently, the 1967 Outer Space Treaty is the main rule of law. An agreement which mandates that no country can claim sovereignty over any celestial body.
According to US officials, the Artemis Accords wouldn’t seek to change that…I’ve got to admit though, these ‘safety zones’ sure sound like a land grab to me.
Here’s the thing though, I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing.
One way or another, we’re going to have to deal with ownership rights over space at some point. Maybe not for the land itself, but certainly for any resources found or extracted from it.
That is precisely what I expect this new accord is really about.
And already, not everyone is happy about that.
Russia, who hasn’t been named in this pact, has already come out against it. Which should surprise no one. Indeed, the further along these plans get the more I expect other excluded nations will start taking issue with them as well.
I’m not here to talk about the politics behind this move though.
No, the real takeaway in my view, is the fact that it hints at the forthcoming space mining revolution.
Timeline to take-off
See, NASA’s Artemis program is set to put people on the moon by 2024.
That’s step one.
After that, the goal is to stay there. Creating a base of operations that would allow for a long-term presence.
Then, once that’s complete, the real task begins. With NASA hoping to get private companies mining the moon for valuable resources.
Meaning, by the end of this decade, the idea of space mining could be a reality. A project that will almost certainly change the way we think about resources moving forward.
For Australia, being the resource powerhouse that we are, this may sound alarming. After all, if space mining takes off, we may suffer from it.
But, I wouldn’t count on that.
In fact, Australia could be one of the biggest winners from space mining. Some mines across our nation are even pioneering technology that may play a pivotal role in making it possible.
Take these comments from CSIRO executive director, Dave Williams, for example:
‘Dr Williams points to Western Australia as an example, saying a lot of the mining activity in the Pilbara is being managed remotely from Perth, and that a system similar to it could be set up to deliver the requisite tools and equipment ahead of a crewed space mission.
‘“Australia is looking at this, because I believe we are world leaders in remote mining. It isn’t saying we have all the answers, but we are definitely ahead of the curve,”
‘“There are logistical support areas where we could be, as a country, a player in the global system, and that’s one of the challenges space agencies, including our Australian Space Agency, and CSIRO are looking closely at.”’
This futuristic pipe dream isn’t just possible, it’s already upon us. A fact that I believe you should be keenly aware of as we march ever forward.
Now, keep in mind, that doesn’t mean there won’t be challenges. Getting to the point that we can mine the moon will be tough.
But, if this week has demonstrated anything, it’s that we’re closer than many may think.
Editor, Money Weekend
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