Space mining has been a hot topic for decades.
Past studies show that deep space asteroids can carry enormous amounts of metals. Research published in Planetary Science Journal highlighted two space bodies floating near the Earth with metal content worth about $11.7 trillion.
That’s roughly half of the United States GDP. A truly mind-blowing number.
These asteroids are estimated to host vast resources of precious and base metals.
These are the minerals that can solve multiple problems the world is facing today. Especially the shortage of metals critical for the clean energy future.
Sounds exciting, but mining an asteroid is more challenging than developing a mine on Earth.
Many companies have been trying to develop space mining strategies for years, but so far, none of them has been successful.
Most companies simply ran out of funds before getting anywhere near reaching their targets.
But a new asteroid-mining start-up will try to use the platform developed by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company to reach mineral-heavy space objects.
AstroForge Inc. plans to launch its first mission this April.
It will launch a small satellite on a test flight. If everything goes well, AstroForge aims to launch the second ship in October. It will scout for mineral-rich asteroids.
Overall, AstroForge estimates that it’s possible to mine metals like platinum at the cost of $50 per ounce. It’s 20 times lower than the average mining cost of ~$1,000 per ounce. The “space” cost is lower not because it’s cheaper to work in space but because the concentration of the metals is much higher in the asteroid ore.
In other words, space mining will be focused on ultra-high-grade ores, which will drive costs down.
It will be an important year for both the mining and space industries. As the new source of critical metals can be a catalyst for economic growth going forward.
Critical Metals Trading Gains Momentum
Lithium and cobalt are getting strong attention from traders in the US.
CME Group, a Chicago-based exchange, reported rising volumes for both metals’ contracts.
Since these instruments started trading in 2021, both metals’ contracts have reached record volumes.
It’s a clear indicator of a strong interest in the “new energy metals” sector.
In recent years, the final users of primary battery metals have been securing deals directly with miners. Now, battery makers also turn to trading houses to procure them.
The rising number of contracts indicates positive market sentiment, and CME noted that new traders keep coming to the exchange.
For a while, global exchanges have been dealing only with precious and base metals. Critical metals, like cobalt and lithium, were overlooked due to low trading volumes. It’s all changing now.
Thank you for your loyal readership,
The Financial Star team