Jan 23, 2013

Mining the moon in 10 years: more science than fiction

Space and mining boffins will gather in Sydney next month to discuss the possibly of mining on the moon, asteroids and even Mars. It could happen a lot sooner than you'd think.

Tom Cowie

Crikey journalist


Houston, we have diamonds. That could be the message to come from our next space mission if a growing interest in mining other planets one day comes to fruition. Academics, miners and space industry experts will gather next month for the Off Earth Mining Forum at UNSW to discuss the possibilities of extracting resources from the galaxy. NASA will be there, as will Rio Tinto, for the two-day forum, with presentations including "Mining Machine Automation", "Space Business Innovation" and "The Moon -- a Lawless Outpost?". Professor Andrew Dempster from the Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research is one of the organisers of the event. He says off-earth mining is one of the new areas of space research and could one day help lead to the colonisation of other planets. He predicts we could be mining the moon in 10 years. "What we're trying to do here is take some of the blue sky academic people and get them to sit with some hard-headed miner types and see what sort of common ground we can find," he told Crikey. "If someone is going to have a business case for going to space, then mining is probably the first cab off the rank." One company already hoping to capitalise on the growing interest in space mining is Planetary Resources. Backed by film maker James Cameron and Google's Eric Schmidt and Larry Page, the company hopes to harvest minerals from passing asteroids. Another company, Deep Space Industries, hopes to launch a fleet of space craft to investigate asteroid minerals by 2015.

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11 thoughts on “Mining the moon in 10 years: more science than fiction


    By Jove, haven’t they seen The Time Machine (not the George Pal classic, the much-panned 2002 adaptation)? Mining the moon didn’t end too well there…

  2. klewso

    I’m looking forward to when we get to other planets – mix with the “locals” and treat them like we do here – what they’ll taste like?

  3. Mike Flanagan

    And what are they going to discuss???
    I might suggest with dismay,perhaps the shipping of oviline back to planet earth.
    To scatter it on our oceans to help us survive their brothers onslaught and destruction to our biosphere.
    Try and tell me that these plans and investments bare any relavance to the challenges we face and I will lend you my other leg, for it is genuine rubber.

  4. zut alors

    Mankind should complete stvffing up earth first before starting on the other planets.


    Zut, there might be a slight logical flaw in your suggestion.

  6. Dawson Colin

    Oh great, now Aussie taxpayers will be funding space infrastructure for the exclusive use of Rio and Gina. As if roads, rail and ports were not enough.

  7. zut alors

    Monash, the comment was tongue in cheek – I have every confidence we are done for, it’s just a matter of how soon.

  8. AR

    Perhaps they’ll find coal? And oil?

  9. MJPC

    Memo to Clive Palmer;
    Stop work on replica Titanic; commence work on replica starship Enterprise.
    A message to all Mining Magnates: Boldly go where no one has gone before…and stay there!

  10. Gordon Roesler

    There will be 9 billion people on the planet in 40 years. With luck we can feed them. We may need additional resources to do so, such as the energy to harvest, process, transport and distribute the food. Would you prefer to obtain that energy by digging up Earth, or from somewhere else?

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