Space the final frontier for extra-terrestial miners – by Peter Rakobowchuk (Vancouver Sun – March 8, 2013)

‘I have no doubt that, someday, space mining will surpass Earth mining’

TORONTO — Canadian Press – Asteroids headed for Earth might strike fear into many hearts, but there are others who see business opportunities in the giant space rocks. There were even predictions at a conference this week that mining on asteroids could become a dominant industry in the future.

Arny Sokoloff, the head of the Canadian Space Commerce Association, said that mining off the planet will eventually become one of the driving forces in the development of space.

“I have no doubt that, someday, space mining will surpass Earth mining,” he told the group’s annual conference Thursday. The CSCA comprises 50 Canadian companies involved in the space industry.

Sokoloff also pointed out that extra-terrestrial mining was featured in the recent federal Emerson report on space policy, commissioned by the Harper government.

He said that what the government has to do to encourage the industry, “in the very least,” is give space companies some of the kind of tax benefits that Canadian mining companies get.

“I believe it will be a dominant industry,” he added, “but this dominant industry is in the far future.”

Sokoloff quickly pointed out that “a few brave souls and some far-seeing (space) agencies have already started on this path.”

Among them is Moon Express, a U.S.-based company whose CEO is Bob Richards, a Canadian who moved to Silicon Valley.

He said in an interview that he left Canada for California because “that’s where the capital is and that’s where the appetite for risk is.”

Moon Express is just one of several American companies that have announced plans to mine asteroids — whether in space or on the moon.

Richards predicted that space mining will take off within one and three decades.

He said the current decade will be one of discovery where technologies will be used to prospect and explore the moon and identify “hot spots.”

Richards noted that precious metals mined on Earth, like gold and platinum, came from space originally.

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