For a few weeks now, we’ve been talking pretty intensely about the ‘Age of Scarcity’.
This idea that we’re on the cusp of a huge materials shortage is the brainchild of our new commodities expert, James Cooper. If you haven’t already checked out his full thoughts on the matter, you can do so here.
Here’s the thing, though, I am firmly of the opinion that any ‘scarcity’ will be transient.
I’m sure plenty of savvy investors, like James, will make a lot of money from that transiency, but I don’t expect it to last. After all, humanity has faced resource shortages before, and we’ll continue to face them in the future. What we’re best at, as a species, is innovating and adapting via new solutions.
Even if the planet truly does run out of oil, copper, or gold — there is still an alternative.
All we have to do is look up…
Despite what many may call a pipe dream, travelling to other planets, asteroids, and celestial bodies for their materials will eventually occur. It is simply a matter of when, not if it will happen, in my view.
And what may surprise you is that it could happen a lot sooner than you think.
The US’s Moon mission
Last week, you may have heard that NASA launched a new rocket to the Moon. Known as Artemis 1, this unmanned craft was sent to test the capabilities of its new Orion spacecraft.
What is special about this mission, though, is that it will be the first of many. The entire Artemis program has been built around a collective goal to get man back on the Moon. And this time, NASA doesn’t just plan to visit, they’re looking to colonise…
By 2025, the plan is to build some kind of base camp on the Moon. Then, from there, the long-term goal is to build out capabilities for manned missions to Mars. That day, whenever it may happen, will certainly be a milestone moment for humanity.
But it is not the only reason the US is interested in the Moon. As a new report from the US president’s office recently stated (emphasis added):
‘Cislunar space [the area surrounding Earth and the Moon] is the gateway to the rest of the Solar System. It is a valuable place for us to test our systems and operations in preparation for future robotic and human missions to destinations in deep space. The Moon also has the potential to be a source of new scientific advances and resources to drive economic growth.’
This is the first time we’ve seen any kind of official declaration about mining in space. And while it certainly doesn’t outline any specific details, it is still a big declaration.
Not only will it require new technology, new procedures, and new laws — it will also spur a huge debate between global powers. Once space mining becomes even somewhat feasible, it will be the beginning of a new celestial gold rush.
After all, the Moon is a perfect place to start, thanks to one key resource that is very rare on Earth. And China is already pressing ahead to secure it…
See, on the Moon, there exists a mineral known as helium-3.
On its own, this crystalline material isn’t all that remarkable. We haven’t really been able to test its capabilities because it is so rare on Earth. But the strong solar winds that batter the Moon have ensured that it is relatively plentiful on the floating rock.
However, what we do know about helium-3 is its potential as a fuel. It has long been speculated that because of its properties, it could be a potent fuel for nuclear fusion power.
It has been estimated that just 25 tonnes of this stuff could have the ability to power the entire US for a year. Compared to other common fuel output and prices, that would value helium-3 at close to US$3 billion per tonne!
This mineral is incredibly valuable, and it is likely to be the only economically viable thing to mine in space for quite some time — at least for commercial use rather than research.
The real kicker, though, and the reason the US has likely released this report, is because China is clearly keen on helium-3 too. Back in 2020, the nation’s Chang’e 5 mission was the first to bring back lunar samples since the ‘70s, including helium-3.
With plans for their own Moon base, it seems all but certain that China will also be looking to secure this critical mineral. Especially since whoever gets their hands on more of it first will be able to test and develop technology around it before the other.
Make no mistake about it, we’re likely going to see a race between these two superpowers to control the market for helium-3. All it will depend on is how soon we can actually get picks and shovels digging into the lunar surface…
Like I said before, don’t be surprised if it is sooner than you think.
Editor, Money Morning
Ryan is also co-editor of Exponential Stock Investor, a stock tipping newsletter that hunts down promising small-cap stocks. For information on how to subscribe and see what Ryan’s telling subscribers right now, click here.