While there are no locals around to force into hazardous working conditions, asteroid mining could become a multi-trillion-dollar industry.
Next week, a handful of high-profile businesspeople, including Google execs Larry Page and Eric Schmidt and producer James Cameron, are to unveil just what their mysterious company, Planetary Resources, intends to do. And many observers have speculated that they’re going to announce plans to start mining asteroids for precious metals. Part of this is due to one of Planetary Resource’s co-founders, Peter Diaminidis, who founded the X Prize and since a TED Talk in 2005 has been a proponent of looking beyond our planet for natural resources. Diaminidis has even said that he foresees asteroid mining becoming a multi-trillion dollar industry, as many of the rocky heavenly bodies are essentially vast deposits of nickel, iron ore, and other minerals we have limited supplies of down here on Earth. Anyhow, this is all speculation until the news conference on April 24. But let’s just say if Planetary Resources doesn’t announce that they want to undertake the monumental task of mining our solar system for the planet’s benefit, we’ll be sorely disappointed.