Lunar Mining—Surface vs. in Situ—A Comparative Study

by Paulo Roberto Pereira, Colorado Sch of Mines, Golden, United States,
Russell J. Miller, Colorado Sch of Mines, Golden, United States,
Gary S. Brierley, Colorado Sch of Mines, Golden, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

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


Surface mining and in situ mining are briefly reviewed and compared. It is verified that the inherent advantages of in situ mining over surface ruining point out that in situ mining should be seriously considered as the mining method to be used on the Moon. The reasons are (1) Less launch weight, (2) Less operating personnel, (3) Less operating cost, (4) Dramatically reduces the environment surface impact caused by mining, (5) Less maintenance, (6) Less unit operations, and (7) No handling of raw materials on the surface of the Moon. Also, because in situ mining is simpler than any other mining method here on Earth, its application to the Moon means, less EVA time, more amenability to automation, less requirement for support from the Earth and less infrastructure to be built on the Moon. Tables 2 to 9, appended to this paper compare in situ mining and surface mining and explain why the 7 factors listed above support the application of in situ mining instead of surface mining for the production of local resources on the Moon. The operating costs for typical surface mining and in situ mining operations were broken down into two separate tables (4 and 5).

Subject Headings: Moon | Comparative studies | Field tests | Benefit cost ratios | Verification | Maintenance and operation | Lunar materials | Automation and robotics

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