Mining for gold in deep space? – by Madhavi Acharya-Tom Yew (Toronto Star – March 8, 2013)

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It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but in fact, it’s already here says a growing list of mining and aerospace companies.

Mining in space? It sounds like the stuff of science fiction, but in fact, it’s already here. A growing roster of Canadian aerospace and mining companies is setting its sights on asteroids as the next frontier for precious metals and reserves of water on the moon that could make it an ideal pit stop on the way to the deeper reaches of space.

That’s what brought several dozen representatives from aerospace and mining companies, as well as geologists, academics and legal experts to the 6th annual conference put on by the Canadian Space Commerce Association (CSCA) at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Thursday.

“It sounds like it’s a new area, but in actual fact, it’s been around for more than a decade, Dale Boucher, director of product design, prototyping and testing at the Northern Centre of Advanced Technologies, a Sudbury-based training and technology development centre for the mining industry.

NORCAT, as the facility is known, has developed rover chassis specifically designed for lunar mining activities. In the last decade, it has developed drills for the Canadian Space Agency and NASA.

There’s no full scale interplanetary mining projects right now. But proponents say the groundwork is being laid. Last month, the Curiosity rover completed its first drill hole on Mars as part of its continuing hunt for signs of life.

Last year, Planetary Resources, a group back by the billionaire founders of Google, Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, as well as film maker James Cameron, and Charles Simonyi, former chief software architect at Microsoft announced itself as the world’s first asteroid mining company.

“It will happen and it will happen on an enormous scale. But whether that starts now or in 20 years or 50 years, that’s a lot of what the conference is about,” said Arny Sokoloff, conference organizer and president of the CSCA.

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