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Mineral scarcity on Earth: are Asteroids the answer


  • Carol Dahl

    (Luleå University of Technology
    Colorado School of Mines)

  • Ben Gilbert

    (Colorado School of Mines)

  • Ian Lange

    (Colorado School of Mines)


Depletion of minerals and other non-renewable resources has long been a source of worry to industrial economies. This worry waxes when markets are tight and wanes when they are not. However, evidence has continued to mount that there are staggering amounts of minerals in space that are technically within our grasp. Scientific work has considered mineral availability and technical ability to mine on near earth objects. Within the last decade, a number of space related industries have gained attention. While availability and technical feasibility are both necessary conditions for this industry to develop, they are not sufficient. Rather sufficiency also requires financial feasibility. Although studies have considered the costs of mining asteroids, we are aware of no papers that model the effects on terrestrial mineral market structure with the injection of extra-terrestrial minerals. Our contribution is to consider the current state of mineral markets and provide a model of firm entry to derive implications to the market from space mined minerals entering the market. We provide a numerical simulation to demonstrate what prices asteroidal entrants might face for the injection of a variety of metals and provide an online model for others to change inputs to their asteroid and metals of choice.

Suggested Citation

  • Carol Dahl & Ben Gilbert & Ian Lange, 2020. "Mineral scarcity on Earth: are Asteroids the answer," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 33(1), pages 29-41, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:minecn:v:33:y:2020:i:1:d:10.1007_s13563-020-00231-6
    DOI: 10.1007/s13563-020-00231-6

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Carol A. Dahl, 2020. "Dahl Mineral Elasticity of Demand and Supply Database (MEDS)," Working Papers 2020-02, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business, revised Apr 2020.
    2. Thibault Fally & James Sayre, 2018. "Commodity Trade Matters," 2018 Meeting Papers 172, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    3. Carol A. Dahl, 2020. "Minerals: What Are They and What Makes Them Critical?," Working Papers 2020-04, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business.
    4. Gupta, Poonam & Gupta, Sanjeev, 1983. "World demand for cobalt : An econometric study," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 261-274, December.
    5. Fernandez, Viviana, 2018. "Price and income elasticity of demand for mineral commodities," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 160-183.
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