Space Mining for a Heart of Gold

There’s gold in them thar… asteroids?

Yes, and a whole lot of it!

According to website Asterank, one 90-foot-wide platinum asteroid is worth about $50 billion.

OK, so that’s not technically gold. But $50 billion will buy you a whole lot of bullion.

That estimate is all part of a new, high-tech plan by entrepreneurs who want to go waaaaaay out there in search of big profits.

According to a story at NBCnews.com titled, "The Next Frontier: Space Miners are the Universe’s Future Tycoons," not only do many asteroids offer the promise of all kinds of mineable metals (including so-called rare earth metals and precious metals) …

But they also have the ability to keep humans in space via fuel production.

Per the story:

…today’s space mining entrepreneurs are intent on turning asteroids into figurative gas stations. The ubiquitous space rocks are commonly home to water ice — or hydrogen and oxygen, the building blocks of rocket fuel.

Now, that doesn’t mean it’s time to start scrambling for ways to bet on Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic or even Google’s space initiatives … not right this second, anyway.

But it does mean that final-frontier filling stations in the vast reaches of space might have just moved lightyears closer to reality …

And this opens up a whole bunch of possibilities for "space nerds" and, ultimately, for investors.

According to the NBC story, space mining could render normal the notion of interstellar travel.

With an easily refilled gas tank, future spacecraft will be free of the usual time and planning restrictions. Suddenly the whole galaxy is the scenic route.

That’s a creative concept to ponder. And it’s the kind of thinking that makes humans such beautiful creatures … despite our well-known flaws.

The NBC story goes on to report that the future of space mining isn’t just a techie pipe dream.

In fact, the whole world is paying attention at the highest political levels.

Per the story:

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 asserts that no country can claim ownership over an asteroid, planet or other heavenly body. But President Barack Obama signed the U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act in November 2015 specifically to make it legal for American space mining companies to pursue their goals (the Act protects these companies and others from regulatory oversight until Oct. 1, 2023 — the tone is perhaps, "Do what you have to do to make this work, then we’ll worry about making it safe").

I recall reading about this Act last year. But given our recent look at all things gold and mining in last week’s Afternoon Editions, the space mining story brought it back to the front of my mind.


China plans to land a probe on the moon’s far side, an area uncharted by any other country, by 2018. But it won’t take them that long to ensure all gold trading, pricing and business will go through the East. Discover how they’ve already triggered the biggest gold rush of the century, and the critical investments needed to take advantage of skyrocketing gold prices. Our "Operation: Shanghai Gold" video is designed to help you prepare. Watch it here.


Oh, and in case you missed any of last week’s series, here are links to each installment:

Already, there have been moves by countries and companies to spend money on space mining operations.

The Luxembourg government recently launched a $227 million fund to invest in space mining companies that set up operations within the country’s borders.

That laying of the fiscal groundwork has already got the attention of American space mining companies Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries.

Here’s what Planetary Resources CEO Chris Lewicki told NBC:

"If we want to keep building communities and raising families, at some point we outgrow the earth… We’ve left the planet before — it’s something we know how to do, something the government has spent money on. The challenge for companies operating in this space is how to do it more cost-effectively, and how to do it for commerce instead of science."

Commerce is the key.

If companies such as Planetary Resources and others can mine the solar system, then they could be in a position to extract literal gold from rocks … and to put up huge profit numbers in the process.

And while the investable opportunities here aren’t yet sufficiently developed, for a "space nerd" like me the future possibilities are both intriguing — and potentially wealth-enhancing.

***

What do you think about space mining and the future possibilities? Is this a reality, or just a space-nerd’s fantasy? Let me know what you think about today’s subject, or any of our Afternoon Edition subjects, by leaving me a comment on our website or sending me an e-mail.

***

The markets drifted slightly higher in Tuesday’s session, after feasting on some positive economic data that came out early in the day. The S&P 500 gained 0.2% to kick off the holiday-shortened trading week.

• Consumer confidence at a 15-year high: This after hitting a nine-year high in November. Optimism was particularly notable among older Americans, according to Conference Board data.

• Home prices rose 5.1% year-over-year across 20 major U.S. cities. The gains were smallest in the NYC area (+1.7%) and biggest in Seattle and Portland (+10%).

• Even gold gained today: The yellow metal turned higher after posting seven-straight weeks of declines. Today’s 0.5% gain helped it break its longest losing streak in more than 12 years.

• Echo resonates: Amazon.com (AMZN) shipped more than 1 billion items during the holiday season throughout the world. The most-popular products? The Amazon Echo and the Echo Dot, which feature the voice-activated assistant Alexa. The Echo sold out midmonth after sales came in nine times higher than last year. AMZN shares gained 1.4% today.

• 70% of AMZN shoppers used a mobile device: And so did about 31% of buyers across the online-retail world. Adobe Digital Insights says some $24 billion in holiday sales happened on smartphones (about 68% of those sales, or $16.6B) and other digital devices like tablets ($7.9B).

• China’s five-year plan includes space travel: It plans to send a probe to Mars by 2020, and land a probe on the moon by 2018 in an area not yet reached by other countries.

Good luck and happy investing,

Brad Hoppmann
Publisher
Uncommon Wisdom Daily

Your thoughts on “Space Mining for a Heart of Gold”

  1. Hello Brad Hoppmann,
    I began investing in extra-terrestrial real estate during the early 1990’s some time after my fiance had called to my attention the activity of “The Lunar Embassy” which had gained some government approval as pertains to the offer of; lunar[s] and planet[s] real property. To date I’ve acquired title to upwards of 104,000 acres of defined property; id est; the earth moon, planet Mars, the Jupiter moon IO, and the inner celestial bodies of Venus, and of Mercury. Having taken considerable time here on earth to catalogue and group the mining companies, and mining locations, and grades of ore bodies covering 119 commodities; ranging from natural elements, to natural minerals, I find it useful to correlate the probable location, of the same upon each other celestial body.
    I am a Life Fellow Professor of Neuro Physics, and a Medical Doctor of Science. Since 1971 I have been monitoring globe wide mining activity as measured against human health and longevity. Visit my web-page{s} at http:Segdiam.dotster,com/index.html … scroll to the real estate property links, and to the mining links.
    Acknowledge,
    Sincerely,
    Original Inventor – Investor.
    D’r Prof’ Stephen E’ M’ Diamond, L’ L’ D’.

  2. The big challenge in asteroid mining is geographical.

    Each object in the Asteroid Belt has a different origin.

    Therefore, what’s true of the first asteroid one examines, won’t likely be true of the next.

    It’s a safe bet that a planet-killer asteroid like the 4 big ones that killed the dinosaurs, got hot as an atom bomb from the energy of colliding with Earth. Tungsten, molybdenum, and the platinum metals melt at very high temperatures, so in a planet-killing impact explosion, those metals were the lasr to boil, and the first to condense on any nearby cooler object. This is why the four impact sites of those planet-killer asteroids, give Earth some minable deposits of the platinum metals.

    Knowing this, it is not obvious how we’d recover platinum from a space rock, without a catastrophic collision. A 90-foot diameter lump of pure platinum would certainly be worth a lot of money…the problem is when the 90-foot diameter lump is mostly made of ordinary rock, with a few flecks of platinum metal in it.

    Such rocks can be mined by solution-mining. Gold, silver, and copper are mined on Earth, by crushing the rock, dumping it in a plastic-lined hole, then soaking it in a water solution of strong alkali (usually sodium hydroxide) and sodium cyanide. Oxygen from Earth’s atmosphere gets into the water and drives a chemical reaction that makes gold cyanide, silver cyanide, and copper cyanide from the ore. In sodium cyanide solution, these salts dissolve and can be recovered by pumpting the liquid out. To concentrate the metal, cheap scrap iron is then flung into the liquid and an electric current passed between the iron and a target electrode made of copper. The copper, silver, and gold plate out of the solution, and the iron dissolves and takes its place.

    That’s a practical mining method on Earth, because we have liquid water available in huge amounts, an atmosphere with oxygen to drive chemical reactions, a lot of available scrap iron, and a gravitational field that causes crushed rocks and sprayed liquids to fall down and then stay where they are dropped.

    Running processes like this, in space, wouldn’t work. Liquid leachants wouldn’t behave as needed. Crushed rock would float around instead of settling. Although traces of ice can be found in porous space rocks, there’s not enough of it to melt, and them submerge the rock in liquid. And any chemical reagents we need, we’d have to haul up from Earth, because nobody sells those products in space.

    In short, space mining promises to be costly. Anyone who proposes a scheme to do it, had best show some firm engineering design work before asking me for a nickel of investment capital.

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