There has been a lot of excitement building around NASA’s plan to revisit the moon. Not only do we have more exploring to do, but there are also plans to build a moon base and have humans occupy deep space for extended amounts of time. Returning to the moon offers humanity a source of economic growth as well as scientific advances. The moon is, after all, abundant in resources that we have limited access to here on Earth. though speculative, mining the moon is very much on the table.
Silicon is not necessarily scarce on earth, but the moon is comprised of a large amount of this material. Silicon is used across many industries and including electronics.
Rare Earth Elements (REE) are a group of 17 chemical elements used to create modern electronics like computers, smart phones, and medical equipment.
Titanium is important metal used in many alloys and has been found in abundance in lunar samples.
Aluminum is used widely on earth in building materials, tools, aircraft, and many other applications. It’s valued for it’s lightweight and sturdy composition.
Although scientists are not sure what precious metals exist on the moon or in what quantity, any mining of precious metals is an attractive option to mining companies.
When looking at the possibility of moon mining, there are a few questions to consider. If we do decide to mine the moon, what impact could that have on future generations? Would the moon’s appearance from Earth be altered? There are deep ties to the moon in all human cultures throughout time and therefore the thought on altering the moon in any way needs to be very carefully considered.
Additionally, if the moon belongs to the entire Earth, who has the right to own it or any of the materials removed from it? According to the 1967 United Nations Outer Space Treaty, no nation can claim ownership of the moon. However, this does that necessarily apply to private industry. As of now miners may be able to claim property rights on the moon for a commercial venture. As the planet moves forward with this new space race, keep an eye out for potential developments in moon mining and its outcomes.