Why Mining Asteroids for Natural Resources is Getting a Serious Look
It’s no secret that natural resources on earth are being depleted at alarming rates.
But I don’t think anybody has put it quite like this.
Just take a look at this infographic that recently appeared on the BBC News website:
It estimates within the next 17 years, world supplies of silver, antimony and indium will be completely gone.
Even more alarming, by 2044, it predicts copper supplies will have dried up around the world.
It’s important to know, these are absolute worst-case scenario estimates.
Still, it’s surprising to see them coming from some well-known, reputable sources, including the U.S. Geological Survey, BP (NYSE: BP) and the London Metal Exchange, to name a few.
It doesn’t take an economist to understand that these outcomes would have an astronomical effect on the availability and prices of these commodities.
However, I’m a glass half-full kind of guy who believes that as one door closes, another one opens.
You see, just as our resources here on earth are dwindling, there’s a place where an estimated infinite supply of natural resources exists.
I’m talking about outer space.
And believe it or not, one company by the name of Planetary Resources is looking to exploit it much sooner than most people realize.
An Outer Space Economy in the Works
Planetary Resources is a private company backed by the likes of Google’s (NYSE: GOOG) co-founder billionaires, as well as Hollywood Director James Cameron.
Unbeknownst to many, in 2014, the company plans on having its first minable asteroid pinpointed.
By 2020, it’s pushing to have the world’s first fully operational gas station in outer space.
And this is just the start...
Now if this all sounds completely crazy, you’re not alone.
Six months since the company launched in April, NASA now wants to see just how viable the business really is.
According to Mining.com, “NASA will look at the fundamentals of some major questions facing the asteroid mining industry, such as the most suitable kinds of spacecraft needed, as well as the technology and business model required for a space mining project.”
Whatever the number ends up being, there’s no doubt it’s going to be incredibly expensive.
However, considering one asteroid could contain more platinum than all of the platinum ever mined in the world combined, there may be good reason to take the risk.
As the company’s President Chris Lewicki recently told Norway’s The Nordic Page, platinum today is “... actually almost 1,000 times rarer than what are frequently referred to as the ‘rare earth elements.’”
NASA’s expeditions in the past have strictly been in the name of science. For instance, there was no capital gain for the United States when we landed on the moon.
On the other hand, Planetary Resources is looking to make money… and lots of it.
So just how soon is the company expecting to actually have things up and running?
Lewicki says asteroid mining could be a viable option within the decade. We’ll see if he’s right.
But in the meantime, if you’re looking for a new line of work, Planetary Resources is currently looking to hire asteroid miners.
In the very least, it would look great on a resume.