Colorado School of Mines Unveils a Space Mining Program

In Dust Control, EK35®, Mine & Quarry by Jim Silva

Capitalizing on popular interest in outer space mining, the Colorado School of Mines has plans to unveil a program that would prepare the first generation of extraterrestrial miners.

As mining companies seriously pursue expansion to outer space, the Colorado School of Mines wants to ensure that the industry’s next generation of leaders is well-prepared for mining beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

The renowned School of Engineering is planning to launch an interdisciplinary graduate program in extraterrestrial mining as early as this year. The administration already laid the groundwork by offering an introductory class, Space Resources Fundamentals, as a trial course last fall. This spring, school officials expanded the program with a course on engineering, a project design tutorial, and a number of related seminars. By the coming fall, the school expects to award post-baccalaureate certificates, master’s degrees, and doctoral degrees.

“No other institution has the specialized expertise related to resource extraction and utilization that we have at Mines,” says Kevin Moore, Dean of the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences. “It makes good sense for us to apply that expertise in this new area.”

The Curriculum

Motivated by the school’s commitment to responsible mining practices, the program will teach students to sustainably harvest natural resources available in outer space, from water and gases to metals and minerals. Of course, classes will be held on Earth for the foreseeable future, with students studying objects already taken from space and converting them into fuel for mining operations and interstellar transportation.

The program will also introduce students to the economic and legal questions surrounding extraterrestrial mining, inviting experts from other fields to speak to students about the largely undeveloped procedural frameworks for mining in outer space. This holistic curriculum aims to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of their fledgling field.

The Future of Mining, the Future of Man

The prospect of mining in outer space has gained much attention in recent years, with several oil-rich nations like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates investing billions of dollars in space exploration technology. Like the energy industry, the Colorado School of Mines believes that extraterrestrial mining could reduce consumption of Earth’s resources while making the colonization of outer space much more realistic.

Much of the technology needed for extraterrestrial mining still hasn’t been developed yet, but the school’s professors remain optimistic about its potential. “At some point, we will be able to refuel in space so we can keep that spacecraft flying,” said Angel Abbud-Madrid, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Director of the Mines Center for Space Resources. “We can cut our dependency on Earth.”

A Continuing Commitment to Sustainability

While mining in space may be possible sooner rather than later, Earthbound companies should still commit themselves to effective dust control strategies and products that protect their workers, equipment, and the surrounding environment while boosting efficiency throughout the worksite.

Since 1975, Midwest Industrial Supply, Inc. has helped mining companies find true solutions to all of their dust control challenges on the worksite.

Our patented dust control product EK35®  settles into the surface of haul and access roads and binds with the aggregate, forming a protective sealant that traps fines within it and prevents future emissions. When applied correctly, the product can suppress dust throughout your worksite for months at a time, reducing maintenance costs while ensuring compliance with environmental regulations.

Regardless of your company’s needs, we can work with you to develop a custom application plan or managed service program specifically designed for your operation. Wherever you’re mining (provided it’s still on this planet), Midwest is ready to help you address every maintenance challenge along the way.

Jim is Midwest’s Business Unit Manager for Global Mining. He is experienced in operations management, asset management, and business improvement.