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starship-design: Effect on market price of asteroidal Platinum group metals
Here are some quantitized figures for the effect on market price of
asteroidal mining for Platinum group metals.
Quoted from NEEP 602:
"What might be of commercial interest for use on Earth? (Kargel, 1994)
Whatever it might be, like 3He from the Moon, it must provide a return on
investment commensurate with the risk of the loss of that investment.
Note that success would bring a drop in the price of the commodity of
interest due to increased supply.
However, Kargel suggests that some NEAs, if judged only on the chemical
analyses of meteorites, have sufficient gold and platinum group metals (Pt,
Ir, Os, Pd, Rh, Ru) to pay a huge return on investment even in the face of
significantly deflated prices.
If a NEA 1km in diameter contains 100ppm precious metal (and some meteorites
do) 400,000 tons of such metal could provide $320B at deflated market prices
($5.1T at current prices).
At the lower prices, increased use may increase returns on the investment. "
This information was originally presented by:
Kargel, J.S., 1994, Metalliferous asteroids as potential sources of precious
metals, Journal of Geophysical Research, v 99, 21129-21141.
If we use Zubrin's figures for a commercial venture to Mars as a basis for
cost to get there and treble the figures to allow for extraction equipment
and other ancillary systems, then 60 billion dollars could net a return of
323 billion dollars. On my calculator that is a profit ratio of 500 percent
after the devaluation of the metals on the market! Even allowing for only
one NEA in ten having significant quantities of platinum group metals, this
is definitely profitable. Extraction of byproducts such as steel, silicates,
water, etc., would also have market value to orbital industries at more
normal rates of return.