When people hear the word “MINING’ they get mixed feelings, the initial thought for most people is distruction, explosions, nature and the environment and well mostly negative. In reality we would not have phones, computers, headphones, cars, air-conditioners and heating among most other daily comforts without mining.
“Moon mining requires the development of new technologies that improve mining on Earth“
The Moon has many complications and many that don,t have simple solutions like we have on Earth, for example if you go to Antarctica you have a lot of water to keep hydrated and we have an atmosphere so you can keep breathing, in space and on the Moon these are not easily available and we have to produce them from the natural resources in order to keep astronauts alive and well.
Some then say “why do we need to be in space anyway”, this is where reality kicks in again. All of the technology that we use today either was firstly developed for space or requires space infrastructure to functions, space exploration enables development that benefits everyone here on Earth in many ways we take for granted such as GPS Navigation, your Netflix or other streaming services, smart phones etc..
“Mining is not all negative when done correctly and responsibly”
Impact of Moon Mining
The impact of Moon mining will be nothing like Earth mining when the focus is on critical resources such as water and helium-3, the process will be targeted at the top 10cm of the Moon’s surface which will have very little impact to the Moon surface and would be about the same as humans and dogs walking on the beach.
The process is also much different, on the moon you simply heat the regolith to a temperature to extract the water and then the soil is placed back on the surface, some mining methods don’t even require the Moon’s surface to be touched at all to achieve this, this makes the impact to the surface less than humans walking on beach sand and more like two track marks from a car driving along the beach.
This technology has huge implications for the Earth mining industry in relation to improving it’s methods and reducing carbon emissions from the mining industry current beneficiation, shipping and smelting processes which produce most of the industries carbon emissions to our atmosphere. This technology could be transferred and implemented into the Earth mining industry within the net 5 years to completely change what mining is today.
“Space technology reduces our impact on the Earth and improves our way of life”
Many people also think it is viable to go to space to produce resources (for Earth use) that we already have on Earth and to bring them back here, this is ridiculous and not going to happen any time soon. The simple reason is that if a large amount of an Earth resource is brought from space then that commodity price would fall through the floor and be worth nothing
The focus for the space industry and for Earth is critical resources that fall into one of two categories;
- The resource exists in space but we cant produce it on Earth ethically or safely (helium-3)
- The resource life to be sustained and critical utilities to sustain life in space (water)
The other demand for resources in space is for the use in space, being able to use resources in space would mean we don’t have to bring them from Earth, these minerals would include silica (for glass), titanium (for structures) and potential rare earth elements for deep technology and the medical or energy industries.
Resources for self indulgence or to support currencies have little value in space, these include gold, diamonds and silver.
There are a number of landing sites on the Moon such as the Apollo landing sites where the first humans stepped on the Moon, we think everyone can agree that we should preserve these and to avoid disturbance of the areas. We all would like to find out what it was Neil Armstrong through into the crater though.
Looking back at Earths historic landings, most of these locations have been built on or have become parks which included a statue to mark the significance and dedication of the people who made huge sacrifice to achieve their discovery. In recent years these statues have been getting torn down and the significance they represent removed from history, I wonder how long it will take till people will remove these landing sites due to change of belief about the people who took the risk to get to and land on the Moon?
“The space industry is a problem solving industry and not an industry of destruction”
The next 10 years
Mining on the Moon will happen, there is no question or doubt about it. The focus on legislating what can or cant be done is a hot topic however a little pointless and time wasting given the experience we already have to learn from the Earth mining industry.
If you are in the legal game then we suggest separating critical resources from the general resources, this would make the process much easier for countries to come together and agree on something, the next focus should be on the mining technologies and their impacts. The focus in this way allows for things to keep moving forward and not currently going around in circles like the discussions seam to be doing now.
Space Industries are on track for a 2023 launch to the Moon, we will be producing water for use on the Moon and helium-3 for use back on Earth, we will be producing these resources with less impact than humans make walking on a sandy beach on Earth and you are welcome to join us on this mission to produce critical resources.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss this topic in more details, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org