Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
On-line version ISSN 2411-9717
The Moon, asteroids, and planets of the solar system represent the most distant caches of wealth that humanity has ever considered recovering. Yet, in addition to the potentially recoverable values represented there, harvesting off-Earth resources has a second, almost incalculable sustainable benefit in that they can be retrieved with absolutely no damage to Earth. Previous research mostly assessed the potential of asteroids and the Moon for mining purposes from a theoretical and scientific point of view. These studies investigated drawbacks that could be experienced in this type of operation, but no detailed economic evaluation that is meaningful for mining project management has been conducted and the parameters that are most likely to make an operation feasible are unknown. This paper provides a preliminary economic and sensitivity analysis of a possible off-Earth mining business extracting minerals from an existing asteroid.
Keywords : off-Earth mining; space mining; in situ resource utilization; future mining.