Luxembourg joins race to conquer space mining

Digital rendition of a robotic asteroid mining equipment. (Image courtesy of Deep Space Industries)

The government of Luxembourg is taking a page out of the U.S. books by officially launching an initiative to promote the mining of asteroids for minerals.

The move comes barely three months after President Barack Obama enacted legislation to foster such ventures.

The tiny European country, which has been studying possible involvement in the sector since 2013, aims to become Europe’s centre for space mining.

Luxembourg is one of the euro zone’s wealthiest countries and already has a long-standing space industry and played a significant role in the development of satellite communications a generation ago, including setting up SES, one of the world’s largest satellite services company.

Luxembourg already has a long-standing space industry and has played a significant role in the development of satellite communications.

Revealing the program, Etienne Schneider, the country’s vice-Prime Minister and Minister for the Economy said Luxembourg’s aim was “to open access to a wealth of previously unexplored mineral resources on lifeless rocks hurling through space, without damaging natural habitats.”

While the authority said the investment budget for space mining ventures hasn’t been set, it is believed that the government could fund as much as 45% of research and development projects in the area.

Trillion-dollar industry

Deep Space Industries (DSI), a U.S.-based asteroid mining firm, says the industry is already attracting $2 billion a year in private investment. The Californian firm launched a subsidiary last year in Luxembourg and praised its government for embracing the future.

“There are moments when the world changes. By joining the U.S., private citizens and companies who are moving outwards into space, Luxembourg is making this time in history one of those moments,” DSI Chairman Rick Tumlinson said in a statement Wednesday.

The Grand Duchy will also put in place a legal framework to give operators who are based in the country the confidence to go about their business.

READ ALSO: Obama boosts asteroid mining, signs law granting rights to own space riches

Former European Space Agency boss Jean-Jacques Dordain will be one of the country’s advisers on the matter.

Geologists as well as emerging companies, such as Planetary Resources, a firm pioneering the space mining industry, believe asteroids are packed with iron ore, nickel and precious metals at much higher concentrations than those found on Earth, making up a market valued in the trillions of dollars.

3286 7

7 Comments

  • More Asia News

    Latest Stories

    Silvercorp buys back its beaten-down shares

    Silvercorp Metals Inc. says the anonymous fraud allegations that have hammered its share price are completely false, and the company is backing that view up by buying back its shares at low prices.

    Rio Tinto plans to sell ‘a lot’ Of Oyu Tolgoi output to China

    Rio Tinto PLC (RIO) plans to sell "a lot" of the output from the Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold project in Mongolia to China, and is in discussions with smelters in China, Rio Tinto's U.S. Copper Chief Financial Officer said Friday at an industry event."Talks are still underway, and there's no definite plan right now," Kay Priestly told a Metal Bulletin conference in China. With the Oyu Tolgoi mine strategically located close to China where demand is high, so "it's certainly our plan to transport a lot of the products to China," Priestly added.

    SIGN UP FOR OUR DAILY NEWSLETTER

    De Beers, Botswana deal agreed

    Nine months overdue, the diamond marketing contract between the Government of Botswana and De Beers will finally be signed tomorrow in Gaborone, Mmegi reported on Thursday.

    Australia’s first potash miner wants to break Canadian grip on market

    Encouraged by test work that revealed extraction potential using its own technology at one of the world’s largest known glauconite deposits, Perth-based Potash West on Wednesday expanded it exploration tenure by almost 40% to 2,905km² in Australia's wheatbelt. The company raised $6 million on the Sydney bourse in May this year hoping to become the first Australian firm to break into the lucrative potash market dominated by about 10 mainly Canadian companies. Global potash prices currently average $500 a tonne, up more than 40% from 2008-recession lows.

    Zimbabwe softens tone on foreign mining companies

    A Zimbabwe government official says a law forcing foreign companies to surrender 51 percent stakes to local people was "an aspiration," not a hard target, Reuters is reporting: "This is a negotiated process, it is not an issue that is dictated to companies. It is more to deal with evaluating and negotiating with each company," Prince Mupazviriho, the permanent secretary in the mines ministry, said during a mining conference on Thursday. The new position by the government is a change from the previous hard-line edict suggesting the 51% requirement was set in stone.

    Northwest Transmission Line begins service in 2013

    The Northwest Transmission Line, which will bring power to number of potential mines in British Columbia, will be in service by the end of 2013. Rohan Soulby, Director, Export Transmission Development for Powerex, provided an update on the project during a Thursday luncheon with the Vancouver, BC Branch of the Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum. Soulby said that the line will be able to do 300,000 kW when it comes into service. With further upgrades, he said the ultimate capacity of the transmission line will be north of 400,000 kW.