Moon to become ‘new Wild West’ as China, Russia and US fight for mining rights

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The moon is set to become "the new Wild West" as China, Russia and the US fight for mining rights, experts have warned.

It comes after a legal framework to allow mining on the moon was signed by Australia, Canada, England, Japan, Luxembourg, Italy, the United Emirates and NASA last year, known as the Artemis Accords.

Experts have indicated that asteroid and moon mining could be worth trillions of pounds after a metallic asteroid 140 miles wide and worth an estimated $10,000 quadrillion made its closest approach to our planet late last year.

But in failing to engage Russia and China in the Artemis Accords, the Trump administration has now been accused of "exacerbating a national security threat", experts have said.

“Unfortunately, the Trump Administration exacerbated a national security threat and risked the economic opportunity it hoped to secure in outer space by failing to engage Russia or China as potential partners,” Elya Taichman, former legislative director for then-Republican Michelle Lujan Grisham, wrote for Politico.

“Instead, the Artemis Accords have driven China and Russia toward increased cooperation in space out of fear and necessity,” he writes.

Russia’s space agency Roscosmos has likened the accords to colonialism.

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“There have already been examples in history when one country decided to start seizing territories in its interest — everyone remembers what came of it,” Roscosmos’ deputy general director for international cooperation, Sergey Saveliev, said at the time of the announcement.

And since the announcement of the Artemis Accords, China has approached Russia with proposals to jointly build a lunar research base, but experts think trouble could be brewing, Mining.com reports.

“America and China should cooperate in space,” say policy experts Anne-Marie Slaughter and Emily Lawrence. “If the US managed to coordinate with the Soviet Union on space policy during the Cold War, it can find a way to cooperate with China now.”

Slaughter, a former director of policy planning in the US State Department from 2009 to 2011, believes President Joe Biden’s team should instead pursue a new course within the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space.

“Biden can restore some of America’s global legitimacy by working to establish a multilateral framework, negotiated with all relevant parties that protects areas of common interest while granting internationally accepted commercial opportunities,” Slaughter and Lawrence wrote.

They added: “Without an international framework that includes all major spacefaring countries, the moon could become the next Wild West.”

  • China
  • Russia
  • Nasa
  • Space

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