UNSW Professor says off-world mining may launch in the next decade

Bryan Versteeg/DSI

Associate Professor Serkan Saydam, research director at the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) School of Mining Engineering, has expressed that off-world commercial space mining will increase in importance in the future.

A key organiser of the annual UNSW Off-World Mining Forum in Sydney, now into its third year, Saydam explained to Edith Cowan University students the commercial space mining movement may kick off within the next 10 years

This timeframe is in line with the findings of commercial space mining companies looking to extract mineral ore from near-Earth asteroids, which are compositionally comparable to Earth in terms of ore deposits.

“This achievement will definitely trigger the colonisation on the Moon and Mars,” Saydam explained.

“Although estimating the timeframe is directly dependent on the research conducted in the related areas, we can also say that colonisation on the Moon and Mars can happen in the next 50 years.”

The commercialisation of space has seen about $US13 billion ($16.5 billion) of investment since the year 2000, and increased public attention since NASA’s discovery of liquid water on Mars in 2015.

According to asteroid database Asterank, the near-Earth asteroids 1943 Anteros and 162173 Ryugu have been cited as particularly appealing commercial projects, with a potential combined value of over $US6 trillion ($7.6 trillion).