Issues Magazine

Articles about minerals

Asteroid Mining Will Happen … but Australia Will Miss the Boom

By Duncan Steel

Australia was well-placed to be involved in the next mining boom until it cancelled its research into near-Earth asteroids. But is the extraction of minerals and water from passing asteroids a valid prospect or a flight of fancy?

There will be a future mining boom, as heralded in recent media stories. But this mining will take place in a location even more hostile than the Australian outback – space. More specifically, the ore bodies that comprise the myriad asteroids we now know are whizzing by our planet with alarming frequency.

The publicity blitz was provoked by the formation of a new US-based company named Planetary Resources. The company is backed by film director James Cameron and a host of well-known billionaires who made their fortunes in the aerospace and internet industries.


By Sally Woollett

Australia’s underground wealth includes coal, oil, gas, metals and groundwater. How do we use them and should we be exploiting them? How safe it is to tap into them and what if we run out? Further afield, mining has implications for one of the world’s major fisheries and for stability in an already fragile country. Find out more in Issues 99.

The month of May saw the CEO of Linc Energy, Peter Bond, dash across Australia in a jet powered by fuel from Linc Energy’s underground coal gasification demonstration plant in Chinchilla, south-west Queensland (p.4). Linc Energy’s business is in underground coal gasification and gas-to-liquids processes, and its aims are cleaner fuel production and power generation.