Lunar Surface Mine Feasibility Study

by Brad R. Blair, Colorado Sch of Mines, Golden, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space III


This paper describes a lunar surface mine, and demonstrates the economic feasibility of mining oxygen from the Moon. The mine will be at the Apollo 16 landing site. Mine design issues include pit size and shape, excavation equipment, muck transport, and processing requirements. The final mine design will be driven by production requirements, and constrained by the lunar environment. This mining scenario assumes the presence of an operating lunar base. Lunar base personnel will set-up and run the mine. The goal of producing lunar oxygen is to reduce dependence on fuel shipped from Earth. Thus, the lunar base is the customer for the finished product. The perspective of this paper is that of a mining contractor who must produce a specific product at a remote location, pay local labor, and sell the product to an onsite captive market. To make a profit, it must be less costly to build and ship specialized equipment to the site, and pay high labor and operating costs, than to export the product directly to the site.

Subject Headings: Space colonies | Feasibility studies | Moon | Mines and mining | Oxygen | Equipment and machinery | Labor | Economic factors

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