Mining on the Moon

Therese Dunphy

March 21, 2014


The possibility of mineral extraction on the moon recently took one step closer to becoming a reality. NASA is seeking private sector funding through contracts called “Space Act Agreements” to build lunar prospecting robots.

According to, “the construction of robots capable of prospecting for mineral on the surface of the moon will mark the opening stage of NASA’s ambitious lunar mining plans, which have the final goal of extracting vital resources that are proving to be exceedingly scarce on our own planet.”

But don’t get too excited and think we’ve found a new source for imported aggregates. Rare minerals such as titanium and uranium, which are abundant on the moon, are more likely targets for extraction, and the biggest prize would be considered a helium isotope used for nuclear fusion reactors.

The fact that stone, sand and gravel aren’t high on the priority list won’t come as much of a surprise to operators. Transportation costs are a significant factor of overall product price. One estimate on this project pegs transportation costs at $22,679,645 per short ton. At that rate, I don’t think an import tariff will be necessary.

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