Gold found on an asteroid? Should I buy, sell, or hold?

Posted On: Saturday - May 9th 2020 6:33PM MST
In Topics: 
  Economics  The Future  Science

The Russia Times, for what it's worth*, touts The golden asteroid that could make everyone on Earth a billionaire . Yes, and there are a lot of Zimbabwean Billionaires who would feel lucky to eat the roaches that our cat doesn't get. (But, damn, you people sure showed the White men of Rhodesia who's boss!)

The asteroid that the RT title alludes to is Psyche-16, one of the bigger and earliest-discovered ones, is 100 to 200 miles across based on space infrared telescope imaging. Because it is large enough to perturb the orbits of smaller asteroids, it's mass was determined, allowing density calculations, which, along with albedo measurements cause astronomers to figure it's made mostly of metals. It is not at all proven to contain the precious, as that headline states, being thought to consist mostly nickel and iron. RT maybe is no better than the National Enquirer (though it's still GOTTA beat the NY Times):
The discovery has been made. Now, it’s a question of proving it up.
Whatever the fuck is that supposed to mean?!

No matter about that, were a minor planet like that, or even a 10-mile wide body to be part gold, it doesn't take a big percentage of gold to make a bigger find than there exists in human hands on earth!
Of course, says veteran miner Scott Moore, CEO of EuroSun Mining “The ‘Titans of Gold’ now control hundreds of the best-producing properties around the world, but the 4-5 million ounces of gold they bring to the market every year pales in comparison to the conquests available in space.”
Take just a cubic mile of gold, please! [Uhh, joke doesn't work here - Ed] I get 2.5 x 1015 , or 2,500 Trillion ounces of gold there. It's enough to give every American a million dollars and still finance a Micheal Bloomberg primary campaign. [What an incredible way of putting it! - Ed] Now, be careful, that is in troy ounces, so don't get ripped off by anyone making you deals on asteroid-mined gold in avoirdupois ounces.

Either way, dammit, we're gonna be rich! More on this in a bit....

The article is kind of interesting, even with the completely exaggerated title, as it's about the exploitation of solar system bodies for minerals in general. The task is arduous, I tells ya'. The article spells out the need for gravity to even do the mining, of which a 200 mile diameter asteroid made of pure gold has only 1/11** of the Earth's gravity (~ 1/2 of the moon's), so is it going go work? It's not an absolute need, this gravity, but otherwise fuel would have to be burned for a reaction force for any initial drilling done to lock the the robotic miner to the surface, where I suppose it could go on from there.

Then what? You'd need a good-sized payload to make the operation worthwhile. With that low-gravity body, at least much less fuel would be needed to leave the body's gravitational field, and all this mass could be slowed down with a very accurate entry to Earth's atmosphere. The gold doesn't burn, so there's that ... Yet, you'd need enough fuel to get a good acceleration to the 'roid, a somewhat equal deceleration for the rendezvous, and then good acceleration from the 'roid back home to get the mission accomplished before, well the price of gold went down, down, down, like a robot miner with a busted retro-rocket and tangled-up drogue shoot.

Of course, that massive engineering project, the precision manufacturing, and all that fuel would be affordable, you know, with all that money you'll have up front from selling a portion of that gold ahead of time to ... well, a bunch of suckers, because that's the point the entire article by Joao Peixe (ahaa! that explains it!) missed. No, nobody will be rich, not even the man who sponsors the mission, thinking he's the modern Ferdinand and/or Isabella of Spain, who, come to think of it were already rich, but probably didn't come ahead on that whole Cristobal Columbus venture.

If a serious amount of gold could be seriously planned to be mined on an asteroid or moon and be brought to Earth, than that inflation of REAL MONEY itself would bring gold's value down accordingly. That part is pretty obvious to most of us here, I'd guess (unless you just come for the Kung Flu coverage). I don't think it would go that far either, however. The more the calculations on cost of the mission were solidified, the more that the new near-future value of gold would be understood, making the mission that much less worthwhile until some equilibrium were reached. That equilibrium would be reached at a point at which the mission wouldn't make any money!

Am I wrong about how this would go down, or up, I should say? Think back on the Spaniards' big rip-offs of the Incas, Aztecs and what-have-you other savages' gold back in the 1,500s. (Well, I mean, they weren't using it as anything but interior decoration anyway, so ...) If you were on one of the first ships to bring a load back to the Old World, yeah, you, maybe a few of your non-mutinous crew, would have been rich (shhh, don't tell the Queen yet!) This is due to the lack of information flow back in that era, with no tweets such as:
"@Carlos I: yur majest-E - got 2 mil oz of la precious for U. 1,500 Az-teks put to sword. we are rich as fuck. c. u. back in old world. #GoldLosBitchez!"
However, as information did get out, as to how much more gold (and silver) was available for use a money, it was one of the few or only periods in history where there was inflation in this money.

It's a similar scenario, but 2-3 orders-of-magnitude worse, when the FED makes dollars out of nothing. Those who get to spend them first, such as the big banks, before the information on the increase in the money supply is felt throughout the economy, get the most value out of those dollars.

An asteroid mining operation would be hard to keep secret. I know, it's so cool, that I'd likely run my mouth too. The information would be out there, and the value of the gold would reflect that.

This ain't no Robert Heinlein book we're living in, 'cept that Crazy Years part. He forecast that one like a real Nostradumbass!***

* A lot more than the New York Times in dollars, rubles, gold, and truth. However, the article is originally from the article.

** The mass turns out to be 1/18,000 of the Earth's, but with the radius being only 1/40 of Earth's, the gravitational acceleration and force on an object on such an asteroid's surface would be 1/11 of that on Earth. I did a 2nd check on this math by using Newton's law of gravity directly, and got 0.85 m/s2, so feel very happy to have done this math right with a simple idiot-phone calculator (doesn't even have a square function!). There goes 20 minutes of my life I'll likely never get back!

*** I just had to use that one, a handle of one of the ZeroHedge commenters from a good while back. I liked the Heinlein sci-fi I read as a kid very much.

Monday - May 11th 2020 10:17AM MST
PS: Yes, I wish that were you on the library board rather than those free-wheeling, free-spending folks what, yet, probably will spent lots of it elsewhere. They had one branch closed for over a year to remodel it in the same space, different lay-out.

My story of running into the NRP types at the main branch, while enquiring how exactly this library was being changed is in an old post, here:

"The Dewey Decimal System, what a scam that was." - Cosmo Kramer

Yes, 522.7 million kilometers sounds a lot better than 523.2 kilometers. You are right. They are practically GIVING AWAY rocket fuel right now. Now's the time to become a space miner, or space cowboy ... or pompetous of love, or something ...
Adam Smith
Monday - May 11th 2020 9:45AM MST
PS: You're welcome for the book Mr. Moderator.

Our new local library "only" cost 5 million.
It's good having a place to learn stuff.

If only there were a way, an invention perhaps, that would let you learn stuff from home. If only someone could invent something to replace the card catalog and Dewey's decimals.

80 million library bond. I'm under the impression that half of that was for the 14 libraries and the other half was for "affordable housing".

Do the county commissars understand that the county tax cattle get to pay it back over 20 years with interest?

Do the commissars get a kickback?

If it were up to me you'd get that refund.
Adam Smith
Monday - May 11th 2020 9:29AM MST
PS:Hey Mr. Moderator...

"Yep, we'll stop at an orbit-through McD's on the way back to Earth. I'm buyin'!"

Thanks. That's very generous of you.

I'll have a Royale with cheese please.

The interwebs tell me that Psyche-16 is 523,159,765km away from the earth.

The moon is 384,400km away from earth.

523,159,765-384,400 = 522,775,365km

It's a good thing rocket fuel is at historically low prices.
Monday - May 11th 2020 9:26AM MST
PS AE: The story of that admiral was definitely in mind when I wrote that sentence.
Monday - May 11th 2020 7:28AM MST
PS: Thank you very much for the link to the .pdf, Adam! I got it now ready to read. The library can stay closed for all I care (they've still got that $80,000,000 from that recent bond issue in the bank, I hope. Can I have my money back, please sir?)
Adam Smith
Monday - May 11th 2020 7:01AM MST
PS:Hey Dtbb...

Thanks for the suggestion.
I look forward to reading it.

Here's a .pdf copy of it for anyone who might be interested.

Sunday - May 10th 2020 5:28PM MST
PS: Alarmist, you are right, I'd forgotten about the 1849 California Gold rush when writing that. I'll have to read up on that, as that archive site is hard to view (at least on this browser).
Sunday - May 10th 2020 5:27PM MST
PS: Yes, Mr. Blanc, that's the sad state we are in. Even non sci-fi readers in the late 1960s and through the mid-80's at least, would figure we'd have been to Mars, and would have moon bases, at the very least, by now.

On the Chinese, it is kinda weird about that. There was some admiral in some hundreds of years ago that had ocean-going ships for exploration, but the emperor of this time just didn't have a hankering for that sort of thing. Unfortunately, as I discussed in my 2nd of the 2 recent posts on China, they are going in an Orwellian direction right now.
Sunday - May 10th 2020 5:24PM MST
PS: Adam Smith - "$700 quintillion of the precious.
That's a whole lot of nuggets." Yep, we'll stop at an orbit-through McD's on the way back to Earth. I'm buyin'!

"Who's going to do the work when we are all billionaires?" Oh, I got it, we'll import cheap labor again ... oh, at least from whatever country can't get into space to get any of the precious. Africans, yeah ... wait, we tried that.
Sunday - May 10th 2020 5:17PM MST
PS: Dtbb, that book would be on hold as I write, if the library weren't STILL CLOSED! They do have it, though. I guess their software (that won't let me put it on hold) is "working from home" (somebody's home server?)

Thanks for the recommendation.
The Alarmist
Sunday - May 10th 2020 2:45PM MST
PS: Here's an interesting contemporary mid-19th Century take on the deflationary (or inflationary, depending how you look at it) impact of that period's significant gold findings on the price of gold.
Sunday - May 10th 2020 12:50PM MST
PS Back in 1969, you’d have to have taken this at least semi-seriously.. You’d have had to think twice or even thrice about saying that there was something that Americans couldn’t do, even if they really put their minds to it. Maybe it wouldn’t happen next year or even next decade, but you wouldn’t have wanted to say it was impossible. Fast forward 50 years. This is far beyond the capacity of the former USA. We can’t even replace our failing bridges. Just imagine the Environmental Impact Statements that would be necessary. Just think how many black ladies you’d have to have to do the computing. Will the Chinese ever do it? Who knows. My guess is that once they’ve taken control of the world, they’ll be satisfied. They never were much for exploring.
Adam Smith
Sunday - May 10th 2020 8:11AM MST
PS:Good morning Mr. Moderator.

Thanks for the interesting article.

$700 quintillion of the precious.
That's a whole lot of nuggets.

Who's going to do the work when we are all billionaires?

Sunday - May 10th 2020 4:58AM MST
PS:Mr. Mod, I know you like a good book. May I make a suggestion to you and everyone else? "The Power of Gold: The History of an Obsession" by Peter L. Bernstein. Very interesting in my opinion fwiw.
Sunday - May 10th 2020 3:10AM MST
PS: I've read something like that too, Dtbb. Whether it was a big house, a tennis court (of that height), or maybe the living room of The Sun God, King of the Incas, it's really not very much.
Saturday - May 9th 2020 7:44PM MST
PS:With the height no greater than the length I should add.
Saturday - May 9th 2020 7:41PM MST
PS:I believe the total volume of gold mined up to now could fit on the area of a tennis court.
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