The Asia Miner

JUL-SEP 2017

The ASIA Miner - Reporting Important Issues to Mining Companies in the Asia Pacific Region

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12 | ASIA Miner | Volume 14 • Issue 3 | 2017 The company says the mining equipment required may be more simple than imagined. In some cases, much of the equip- ment needed to mine on Earth, such as drills, excavators and concentrators may not be required. Even surface contact with the asteroid may not be necessary due to the unique environ- ment of space. One possible concept for extracting water from an asteroid may be: 1. Fully enclose a small asteroid or position a cold plate in the vicinity of a large asteroid. 2. Concentrate and direct freely available thermal energy from the sun onto the asteroid. At temperature, water will volatilise similar to what occurs naturally with approaching comets. The gaseous water freezes on contact with the cold plate in a largely pre-concentrated form. 3. Once the desired quantities are captured, release or depart from the asteroid to deliver the fuel to the point of need, in Earth orbit, or elsewhere in the Solar System. Many of the engineering systems required for such a process have been demonstrated in space, but before they can be de- ployed to mine asteroids, Planetary Resources must learn which asteroids are rich in water and how that water is locked within the asteroid. Why the asteroids? "Why are there no mines on Mt Everest or on other Himalayan peaks?" Chris Lewicki asks. "The answer is they are inhospitable and difficult to get to. There may be gold there that has econom- ic value but there are easier places to get it. The mining industry has been driven to more remote places because all of the more accessible tier one resources have been consumed." One of the reasons Planetary Resources is investing its energy in asteroids is gravity. "It is all governed by the laws of physics, which tell you that the asteroids are the easiest place to get started," he says. The Planetary Resources team with the Arkyd 6 spacecraft at the company's facility in Redmond, Washington, prior to delivery to the launch pad. Smaller, water-rich asteroids could be enclosed to extract H 2 O.

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