Friday, April 8, 2022
Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,
Exploring and mining space resources has been an exciting topic of discussion for possibility thinkers in engineering and scientific communities. The arguments for space mining range from the limited supply of rare-earth elements, to the new space race among private companies, to betting on the huge potential profit to be made from space resources. Experts and commentators alike use statements such as “lunar gold rush” and “mining the meteors” to express this interest in space mining, while the discovery of asteroids whose “precious metals would exceed global reserves” makes the prospect more plausible than it has ever been.
Regardless of how close to reality space mining is, these discussions have garnered our attention here on earth because the need for rare-earth material is very real. Suffice to recognize that your cellphone alone contains 46 different elements. Advanced technologies and the demands of a “green” future point to a significant need for platinum-group metals and rare-earth materials.
No wonder the mining industry is experiencing a significant resurgence, since all such elements are primarily mined.
Here at S&T, our faculty and students are national leaders in the fields of sustainable mining and critical minerals, which are essential for everything from air travel to electric vehicles to high-end electronics like that smartphone in your hand.
Missouri S&T is heavily involved in national conversations to set the agenda for the future of mining. Here are a few examples:
Whether it involves developing ways to extract and refine minerals from the moon or ensuring our nation and world have the resources needed for a truly sustainable future while minimizing environmental impact, S&T will continue to prepare mining engineers to meet these challenges. As long as we continue to rely on technology, we will continue to rely on mining. It is up to those of us who specialize in this important field and related disciplines to continue to pursue innovation, whether down here on earth or high up in the heavens.
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