This year, five space mining companies plan to send missions to the lunar surface in the hopes of mining the moon for precious metals.

But a caveat in international space law could prevent the firms from cashing in.

The law states that parties can’t appropriate any part of space, and if they do, the materials extracted will have to be fairly distributed.

THE TREASURE CHEST

The moon is a ‘treasure chest’ of lucrative materials.

It has vast amounts of iron ore, water, rare Earth minerals and precious metals, as well as carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen and helium-3, a gas that can be used in future fusion reactors to provide nuclear power without radioactive waste.

Experts believe that the value of these resources are in the trillions of dollars.

The moon can also serve as a fuel depot station for interplanetary space exploration. It has massive amounts of ice (H2O) trapped on the lunar poles that can be used for rocket fuel.

The warning comes from Professor Sa’id Mosteshar, director of the London Space institute of Property and Law, who told The Sun: ‘Once it becomes feasible [to mine the moon] the whole range of space treaties will kick in and the 16 member states that have ratified it will raise an objection to appropriating any part of outer space.

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