Asteroids will be the primary source of precious metals in the next 40 years

Instead of pristine forests or oceans, mining companies could get rare precious metals from asteroids within the next 40 years.

Rising costs, pollution and environmental degradation have prompted a closer look at asteroids as a promising source of precious metals for modern technology, including batteries, solar panels and wind turbine components. The increasing demand for clean energy is driving the demand for these important minerals.

Space mining, though expensive, offers a solution.

This month, two different economic groups published their economic evaluations of mining asteroids in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

One of the assessments was done by economists from Tor Rome Vergata University, University of Maryland and Middlebury College. It focused on the challenges that must be overcome to take advantage of the asteroid assets currently being captured.

The assessment identifies research and development costs and policies governing space use as the primary barriers to the use of space activities for economic development. Private companies tend to direct their space research efforts towards profit rather than the wider dissemination of knowledge.

Also, the restrictions set forth in the Outer Space Treaty further complicate matters.

This international agreement prohibits companies from claiming specific orbital positions around the Earth. As a result, issues such as space wasting and the proliferation of space debris are increasingly likely to collide.

„Addressing these global risks poses global collective action problems, and their solution will require international coordination,” says the first. Assessment.

Other issues mentioned are planetary defense against asteroids and residual pollution of the Earth.

„If managed well, the exploration and use of space can provide unprecedented opportunities for economic growth and sustainability.”

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Space is becoming a more attractive option as ground-based manufacturing becomes constrained

The second assessment was conducted by three members from the Colorado School of Mines, and a fourth member from the International Monetary Fund. It focuses on how mining in space can contribute to sustainable development on Earth.

The assessment found that a shift from mining on Earth to space would facilitate continued growth in metals use on Earth while reducing environmental and social costs.

The researchers considered all the costs needed to extract metal from asteroids and bring it to Earth, from research and development to the design and construction of equipment, including rockets and robots.

Asteroids will be the primary source of precious metals in the next 40 years

Average abundance of metallic asteroids and minerals on Earth. Table via „Mining in space can promote sustainable development”.

Their calculations show that in the next 30 to 40 years, mining metals from asteroids will become not only profitable, but also the primary way to obtain precious metals, their prices will rise and the cost of working in space will decrease.

„As ground-based production becomes more constrained, space becomes a more attractive option. R&D efforts are spent on space mining knowledge stocks, which increases the scale of space production,” says the second. Assessment.

„Over time, binding policies on environmental impacts combined with the improved efficiency of manufacturing in space are driving change for space mining.”

Asteroids contain a potpourri of metals and materials

A study Published last year in the journal Planetary and Space Science, it reported that asteroid composition can vary widely from volatile bodies to metallic bodies with high concentrations of rare metals such as gold, silver and platinum. Nickel

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Some platinum-rich asteroids can have grades of up to 100 grams per tonne, which is 10-20 times higher than in open pit platinum mines in South Africa.

Astronomers and scientists are interested in the different types of materials in space, including gases (such as hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen), certain types of rocks that can be processed to form metals, and metals that are already in usable form. Most of these things aren’t worth bringing back to Earth because it’s too expensive, and we might as well not do it.

However, some specialty metals known as platinum group metals (PGMs), such as rhodium, ruthenium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum, have received significant attention in the context of space mining. These metals may be abundant enough in some asteroids that it is worthwhile extracting them from space.

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Oliver Damon, Mark Bezos, and Jeff Bezos from their new Shepard group, Wally Funk, describe their companion space journey through Blue Origin. Photo by Alan Boyle via GeekWire.

Access to space is getting cheaper

Almost all modern technologies are connected to space in some way. Technological and policy changes such as reusable rockets, greater computing power and new contracting mechanisms have led to lower missile prices and increased commercial interest in space.

Although the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 posed challenges to economic development in space, private companies such as Blue Origin and Space have been making access to space affordable. Both companies have reduced the cost of rocket launches by 20 times over the past decade.

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„What if these costs continued to drop, making mining from asteroids or the moon possible? What would be the implications for economic growth and the environment? A study Assessment.

As commercial interests in space increase, so does the number of payloads. These payloads extend beyond a few high-income economies such as the US and China. In fact, the number of countries with payloads in space has reached an all-time high.

Map via „Space Exploration and Economic Development: New Issues and Frontiers.”

C-type asteroids are popular because of their water content

A recent Report The rapid expansion of the commercial space industry by Fact.MR shows that it is poised to drive space mining operations in the coming years. Currently, the global space mining market is valued at USD$1.7 billion and is expected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 16.1 percent over the next ten years.

Because of their water content, a valuable resource for rocket fuel, Type C asteroids have attracted the attention of companies involved in space missions. Their appeal stems from substantial reserves of metals and organic materials that are well-suited for manufacturing in space.

Major companies in this field include Asteroid Mining Corporation, Deep Space Industries, China National Space Administration, European Space Agency, Moon Express, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, Russian Federal Space Agency, Planetary Resources, Shackleton Energy Company, Trans Astronautica Corporation. , National Aeronautics and Space Administration and Space Fab.

As the space mining market exhibits strong growth potential, space travel promises exciting technological advancements and economic opportunities, paving the way for a bright future in the commercial space industry.

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