Friday, June 08, 2018

NRCan Explores Space Mining

         By Chuck Black

After being dissed and dismissed for years by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and other government departments who would prefer to focus on other opportunities; space miners, asteroid hunters and domestically based in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) experts may have a new champion in Natural Resources Canada (NRCan).

A June 6th, 2018 @MissionCtrlSS tweet thanking attendees attending the June 4th, 2018 "Expert Engagement on Space Mining seminar." According to the tweet, attendees included those from Brampton ON based MDA (@MDA_maxar) and the CSA (@csa_asc). The session was led by members of the National Research Council (@NRC_CNRC). Others in attendance who tweeted included Waterloo ON based Project Plowshares (@ploughshares_ca) and students from Sudbury based Laurentian University and other facilities. Graphic c/o @MissionCtrlSS.


NRCAN, the Federal government ministry responsible for natural resources, energy, minerals and metals, forests, earth sciences, mapping, remote sensing and even administering the regulations under which Inuvik based ground stations operate (including the one last discussed in the May 31st, 2018 post, "Inuvik Mayor Calls Feds "Not Forthcoming" Regarding Private Sector Commercial Ground Station Application"), has reached out for input on space mining as part of its process to develop the Canadian Minerals and Metals Plan (CMMP).

The CMMP is intended to help position Canada as "the leading mining nation" and to lay the foundation for lasting success at home and abroad, according to NRCAN documentation.

As part of that plan, on June 4th, 2018 a small invitation only meeting called an "an Expert Engagement Session on Space Mining" was held in Ottawa, ON at the Carlton University based offices of Mission Control Space Services (MCSS).

NRCAN and other officials were cautious about entering into public discussion on the forum, possibly over fear of a backlash from other government departments such as the National Research Council (NRC) and the CSA, who have traditionally taken the lead in this area and are known to jealously guard their turf in interdepartmental meetings.

Those invited included terrestrial mining companies such as Toronto ON based Barrick Gold Corporation, Toronto ON based McEwen Mining and Toronto ON based Glencore; mining suppliers such as Sudbury ON based Deltion Innovations, Mississauga ON based Gedex, Nacka Sweden based Atlas Copco, Mississauga ON based Hatch Engineering, Mississauga ON based Boart LongYear, Mississauga ON based Metso Minerals Canada, and Toronto ON based Watts Griffis and McQuat; plus dedicated space mining companies including Redmond WA based Planetary Resources, Mountain View CA based Deep Space Industries and Cape Canaveral, FL based Moon Express (which each possess a strong cadre of Canadian employees).

The list of attendees is unknown at this time.

If enough of the invited did attend or expressed interest in the topic, there might possibly be enough interest to further explore ISRU issues within the context of the CMMP.


In 2012, in the 2nd of its three part submission to the David Emerson led Aerospace Review, the Canadian Space Commerce Association (CSCA) submitted a paper on "Using Tools from the Mining Industry to Spur Innovation and Grow the Canadian Space Industry."
Chuck Black.

Chuck Black is the editor of the Commercial Space blog. In 2012, he wrote the second part of the CSCA's submission to the Aerospace Review. 

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