IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Prospects for Mining Asteroids: Into this World or Out of the Question


  • Carol Dahl

    (Division of Economics and Business, Colorado School of Mines)

  • Ben Gilbert

    (Division of Economics and Business, Colorado School of Mines)

  • Ian Lange

    (Division of Economics and Business, 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 carefully 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 asteroid mined minerals entering the market. We conclude with a numerical simulation to demonstrate what prices asteroidal entrants might face for a variety of metals.

Suggested Citation

  • Carol Dahl & Ben Gilbert & Ian Lange, 2019. "Prospects for Mining Asteroids: Into this World or Out of the Question," Working Papers 2019-03, Colorado School of Mines, Division of Economics and Business, revised Jan 2021.
  • Handle: RePEc:mns:wpaper:wp201903

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2019
    Download Restriction: no

    File URL:
    File Function: Revised version, 2020
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Kavlak, Goksin & McNerney, James & Trancik, Jessika E., 2018. "Evaluating the causes of cost reduction in photovoltaic modules," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 123(C), pages 700-710.
    2. David Humphreys, 2015. "The Remaking of the Mining Industry," Palgrave Macmillan Books, Palgrave Macmillan, number 978-1-137-44201-7, September.
    3. David Humphreys, 2018. "In search of a new China: mineral demand in South and Southeast Asia," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 31(1), pages 103-112, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. 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.
    2. Fremstad, Anders & Paul, Mark, 2022. "Neoliberalism and climate change: How the free-market myth has prevented climate action," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 197(C).
    3. Grafström, Jonas & Poudineh, Rahmat, 2023. "No evidence of counteracting policy effects on European solar power invention and diffusion," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 172(C).
    4. Kukkikatte Ramamurthy Rao, Harshadeep & Gemechu, Eskinder & Thakur, Ujwal & Shankar, Karthik & Kumar, Amit, 2021. "Techno-economic assessment of titanium dioxide nanorod-based perovskite solar cells: From lab-scale to large-scale manufacturing," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 298(C).
    5. Tomas Frederiksen, 2016. "Corporate social responsibility and political settlements in the mining sector in Ghana, Zambia and Peru," Global Development Institute Working Paper Series esid-074-16, GDI, The University of Manchester.
    6. Borkowski, Bolesław & Krawiec, Monika & Karwański, Marek & Szczesny, Wiesław & Shachmurove, Yochanan, 2021. "Modeling garch processes in base metals returns using panel data," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 74(C).
    7. Ren, Haoshan & Ma, Zhenjun & Chan, Antoni B. & Sun, Yongjun, 2023. "Optimal planning of municipal-scale distributed rooftop photovoltaic systems with maximized solar energy generation under constraints in high-density cities," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 263(PA).
    8. Nuñez-Jimenez, Alejandro & Knoeri, Christof & Hoppmann, Joern & Hoffmann, Volker H., 2022. "Beyond innovation and deployment: Modeling the impact of technology-push and demand-pull policies in Germany's solar policy mix," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(10).
    9. Kemp, Deanna & Worden, Sandy & Owen, John R., 2016. "Differentiated social risk: Rebound dynamics and sustainability performance in mining," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 19-26.
    10. Christopher G. F. Bataille, 2020. "Physical and policy pathways to net‐zero emissions industry," Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 11(2), March.
    11. Casares de la Torre, F.J. & Varo, Marta & López-Luque, R. & Ramírez-Faz, J. & Fernández-Ahumada, L.M., 2022. "Design and analysis of a tracking / backtracking strategy for PV plants with horizontal trackers after their conversion to agrivoltaic plants," Renewable Energy, Elsevier, vol. 187(C), pages 537-550.
    12. Matthew Gough & Sérgio F. Santos & Mohammed Javadi & Rui Castro & João P. S. Catalão, 2020. "Prosumer Flexibility: A Comprehensive State-of-the-Art Review and Scientometric Analysis," Energies, MDPI, vol. 13(11), pages 1-32, May.
    13. David Humphreys, 2019. "The mining industry after the boom," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 32(2), pages 145-151, July.
    14. Nemet, Gregory F. & Lu, Jiaqi & Rai, Varun & Rao, Rohan, 2020. "Knowledge spillovers between PV installers can reduce the cost of installing solar PV," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 144(C).
    15. Scharrer, Daniel & Bazan, Peter & Pruckner, Marco & German, Reinhard, 2022. "Simulation and analysis of a Carnot Battery consisting of a reversible heat pump/organic Rankine cycle for a domestic application in a community with varying number of houses," Energy, Elsevier, vol. 261(PA).
    16. Teresa Pakulska, 2021. "Green Energy in Central and Eastern European (CEE) Countries: New Challenges on the Path to Sustainable Development," Energies, MDPI, vol. 14(4), pages 1-19, February.
    17. Kejia Yang & Johan Schot & Bernhard Truffer, 2020. "Shaping the Directionality of Sustainability Transitions: The Diverging Development Patterns of Solar PV in Two Chinese Provinces," SPRU Working Paper Series 2020-14, SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Business School.
    18. Freitas Gomes, Icaro Silvestre & Perez, Yannick & Suomalainen, Emilia, 2020. "Coupling small batteries and PV generation: A review," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 126(C).
    19. Collier, Samuel H.C. & House, Jo I. & Connor, Peter M. & Harris, Richard, 2023. "Distributed local energy: Assessing the determinants of domestic-scale solar photovoltaic uptake at the local level across England and Wales," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 171(C).
    20. Ivan Hajdukovic, 2022. "The impact of international trade on the price of solar photovoltaic modules: empirical evidence," EconomiA, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, vol. 23(1), pages 88-104, July.

    More about this item


    Mining Space; Asteroids; Milling; Smelting; Magnetic Precious Metals; Demand; Cost;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • L72 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Primary Products and Construction - - - Mining, Extraction, and Refining: Other Nonrenewable Resources
    • Q30 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - General
    • Q31 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation - - - Demand and Supply; Prices

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:mns:wpaper:wp201903. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Jared Carbone (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.