According to the World Bank – globally the value of things pulled out of the ground in 2016. That is oil and mining, was $US 3.783 trillion.
That’s a pretty decent amount of money. Combined Apple and Google are worth less than $US 1 trillion and they’re the two most valuable companies in the world.
But mining is about more than the value of these things. It’s huge industry employing many millions of people. The production of this industry is used in literally every other industry in some form. It’s the raw materials of modern life that’s worth so much.
The Impacts of Mining
In Western Canada there’s a region known as the Athabasca Oil Sands. It’s one of Canada’s largest areas of commodity production and it looks horrifying.
It’s been huge for the Canadian economy. However it looks like the sort of thing an alien race would frown upon if asked – “are humans good?“. Are we?
On the flip side, the resources generated by the many worldwide sites like this are what we use to produce the material abundance that characterizes modern life.
Let’s look at some stats.
Jobs produced worldwide – 3.7mm or up to 30mm depending on the scale
Countries involved – 100 partially or 50 who are heavy exporters
Money – $ US 3.783 trillion.
The History of Mining
As a species we’ve been pulling junk out of the world for a long time. However it’s only recently that this has moved to us literally carving up landscapes. It’s not a sustainable practice we’re engaged in. The effect on our land, air and water is significant and increasing.
The benefits of mining to us are appreciable but something ideally should change to minimize our destruction of Earth. I’m a firm believer that the Earth will heal eventually no matter what we do. I’d just prefer it if humanity was still alive for that healing. We’re MUCH more fragile than this planet is.
So with that in mind lets look ahead at the future of mining.
The First Trillionaire Will Come From Space
NASA has plans to explore a $ US 10 QUADRILLION asteroid. That’s such a large amount of value locked in one asteroid by today’s prices that our markets become meaningless. We literally cannot handle that. Even in the history of Earth’s colonists we’ve NEVER had such a significant glut of resources enter an economic system at one time.
The results will be unprecedented and unpredictable. However guessing is fun. So let’s do that.
A Glut Of Resources Is Coming
To sufficiently integrate these resources into our economic system. We need to find something to do with them. We need progress.
An area we’re quickly going to progress is towards building off world colonies. So it’s my theory most of these off world commodities will never reach Earth. Or at least not a significant %. Instead they’ll go to this place.
Or this place (Ceres, not the Moon).
We’ll build colonies there. The resources we gather from space will be the catalyst that makes the human exodus into space PROFITABLE. Companies will flock to start investing in these resources because they’ll smell the future. They’ll see that any company that wants to go GALACTIC needs to begin expanding its capabilities off world.
It’s like in private spaceflight now. Once industry gets involved and finds a way to make progress lucrative, things begin to move VERY fast.
Off World Mining IS Good For Everyone
This has not been a science based article. I could delve deeper into HOW one could go about starting a off world mining company. But that’s for another time. The point of this article is to discuss change.
CHANGE IS COMING.
It is. It’s coming fast. If we prepare ourselves for this change it won’t be as shocking to our institutions. Governments won’t scramble to compete with each other. Shoddy laws won’t be haphazardly slapped into place globally to cover for the lack of appropriate legislation.
We’ll be ready.
To do that, we need to start today. We need to educate ourselves on the technology and industry of the future. We need to make sure the miners and other industry workers won’t all simultaneously become destitute because of this. What else can they do? Lots. They’re skilled people. But if there is 30mm of them let loose simultaneously (or near to it) it’ll be chaos.
Mining today is a social justice issue, and an issue of economics. It however will for a brief period, become the most interesting thing in the world.
The first company that mines an asteroid successfully (or country) will gain unlimited wealth and power. They’ll become the worlds richest organization in an instant. The overall GDP of the US is under $ US 17 trillion. There won’t JUST be one asteroid. There will be several. At first. Then more. It will accelerate.
It will impact every single industry and person that exists today. That change won’t regress.
So I guess the question to ask is – whose going to get there first?
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