Posted in | Rare Earth Elements

Mining the Moon

In the future rare earth minerals needed by many advanced technologies may literally have to come from the moon. Rare Earth Elements of REEs are quite uncommon and the supply on earth is likely to be insufficient for the demand that it generates.

Elements like europium and tantalum are used in energy and defence technologies of an advanced nature and Niobium in magnets.

The largest crater in the picture is Daedalus. Located near the center of the far side of the en:Moon, its diameter is about 93 kilometers (58 miles). This image was taken by en:Apollo 11 with Daedalus being Crater 308.

Currently China is exporting REEs but it may be compelled to stop in the next decade as its own industrial demands will increase. Other countries may also be unable to export the REEs for a similar reason and trade may not be possible to supply the REEs to all consumers who need it.

A US Congressional Research Service reviewed the worldwide distribution of REEs and found that they were indeed found in very limited quantities on earth. It is also known that the Moon has REEs and this could provide a source for these vital minerals which is virtually untapped. The question is that will it be economically viable to mine these on the moon?

There is sketchy data about the type of deposits and their quantity on the moon as of now. However some researchers think that we could see some mining on the Moon as early as the year 2030.

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