Disruption to mining exploration | Asteroid, seabed, Arctic/Antarctic mining
More than 100 years ago no one would have believed that man would travel through space from A to B. Thanks to the Wright brothers, it is now possible. But now, with the advancement of technology and the development of science and research we can deliver innovative services and products at a faster pace than ever before. This will hit the mining sector too. New ideas and innovation will drive the mining sector in the future. We will continue to search for new mining possibilities including space, asteroids, Mars, the Moon, sea and the Arctic and Antarctic circles.
This does not mean that we will run out of minerals in earth. Human imagination and curiosity drives us to explore new territories in mining and to use the advanced technology and to eventually make some money.
Mining in the space | Asteroids, Moon, Mars?
It is already happening!
1. Space X and other space companies are exploring new business opportunities on a massive scale. They are interested in investing money to develop technolgy to reach beyond Mars. These advanced technolgies help to enable some part of the space mining value chain.
2. Technology is developing faster than than a blink of an eye. Experts believe that, with the advancement of technology, it is getting cheaper and easier to reach an asteroid.
3. Astrophysicists in Luxembourg are looking at designing a framework for the exploration and commercial use of resources from interstellar objects. Luxembourg is home to one of the largest satellite operators in the world. They have identified a huge potential for future growth in this market.
“Our goal is to put into place an overall framework for the exploration and commercial use of resources from ‘celestial bodies’ such as asteroids, or from the moon.” – Etienne Schneider, Luxembourg’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy
4. Neil deGrasse Tyson believes that it is possible to make a fortune from asteroid mining;
“The first trillionaire in the world will be the person who mines asteroids. “ Neil deGrasse Tyson – Astrophysicist
Deep-sea Mining | Seabed
1. Researchers from the University of California San Diego and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are encouraging business to collaborate to further explore seabed mining.
2. DeepGreen and NORI are developing a promising technology that will allow us to mine seabed minerals such as polymetallic nodules, which are in high demand in the market.
“We believe these future metals can be produced responsibly, protecting ocean health, while avoiding the deforestation, pollution and child labour that too often are part of traditional mining.” Gerard Barron, CEO of DeepGreen
Deep-sea mining value chain (ref: Nautilus Minerals)
3. Research teams from Waseda University, the University of Tokyo and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) have discovered rare earth elements which could be used for tech products ranging from mobile phones to electric cars. The deposits are estimated at 16 million tons, which lie on the seabed at a depth of 5,700 m, about 250 km south of Minami-Torishima island in the Pacific Ocean.
Mining in the North and South Pole regions | Arctic/Antarctic regions
1. The Antarctic Treaty Protocol on Environmental Protection has suspended fossil fuel & mineral exploitation In Antarctica until 2048. Therefore, we probably won’t be able to see any progress there. However, some governments and organizations are speculating about how long this treaty will hold.
2. In the Arctic Circle the story is different. Finland and Russia are involved in developing infrastructure in the area, thus providing access for lucrative mining, forestry, and fish industries to service Asian markets. Russia is keen to stake its claim to an estimated $35 trillion worth of untapped oil and natural gas under the Arctic seabed.
“There is so much immense potential in the Arctic and the increased involvement of all these players has big incentives,” said Harri Mäki-Reinikka, Finland’s ambassador for northern policies. “Why wouldn’t we use the opportunities that are being presented to us?”
CONCLUSION | Future mining should be driven by the UN sustainable development goals
In 2015 the UN adopted a new set of aspirations for the next 15 years; the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The UN defines 17 SDGs, which are broken down into 169 targets, for outlining an agenda for nations, NGOs and business leaders. These goals are intended to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity.
Therefore, we need to adopt these goals in Asteroid, seabed, Arctic/Antarctic mining as well.
About the author:
Kash Sirinanda has a doctorate in mine planning and optimisation from the University of Melbourne, Australia. During his PhD studies and post-doctoral work at the University, Kash developed algorithms for generating designs that maximise the NPV of a mining operation. That work provides the basis for software that assists mine planners to design more profitable mines. Kash was also a visiting scholar at the Colorado School of Mines, USA.
He has worked on various mining projects which include due diligence, operation, analytics, optimization and digital in different commodities around the globe. He is a keynote speaker and provides mining leaders with strategic direction, and visionary leadership.
Kash´s vision is to engage, partner, and collaborate with leaders and decision makers to transform a business into a best-in-class, advanced digital and sustainable-enabled competency company.