Space mining is not science fiction, and Canada could figure prominently – by Elizabeth Steyn (The Conversation – April 4, 2021)

In this era of climate crisis, space mining is a topic of increasing relevance. The need for a net-zero carbon economy requires a surge in the supply of non-renewable natural resources such as battery metals. This forms the background to a new space race involving nations and the private sector.

Canada is a space-faring nation, a world leader in mining and a major player in the global carbon economy. It’s therefore well-positioned to actively participate in the emerging space resources domain.

But the issues arising in this sphere are bigger than Canada, since they involve the future of mankind — on Earth and in space.

Battery metals in hot demand

On Earth, attempts to address global warming include switching to a net-zero carbon economy through mass rollouts of electric vehicle fleets and investments in large-scale renewable generation infrastructure.

Doing this successfully would require vast quantities of battery metals (lithium, cobalt, nickel), critical minerals (copper) and rare Earth elements — so much so that market analysts have warned of a potential metals supercycle. In a supercycle, demand wildly outstrips supply, relentlessly driving up prices.

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