In-Situ Space Mining comes to Earth.


Planetoid Mines Corporation (Rio Rancho, New Mexico) announces a new proprietary in-situ mining equipment with a non-invasive extraction and beneficiation method that could transform the mining industry.

Initially engineered for NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts in late 2018, the system was designed to withstand harsh off-world mining conditions and to separate any mineral in microgravity environments. In March 2020, Planetoid Mines participated in a BHP Mining Challenge in which they reconfigured the space-based ISM system as an alternative to standard and conventional mining practices on Earth.

Condensing the entire mining process into a small self-contained footprint, the Purified Recovery In-Situ Mining rover or PRISM, is an autonomous machine capable of remote sensing and extracting any target mineral and refining those metals through electro-beneficiation directly at the wall face.

The system will produce higher grade concentrates leaving behind waste minerals and gangue, and eliminates using “leaching liquors” or “lixivants” required in solution mining.

The PRISM machine can be utilized in open pits or underground tunnels recovering metals from deposits without any environmental disturbance. The system significantly reduces the volume of water by including on-board electrolysis of wastewater and contaminated groundwater, and is capable of generating hydrogen and oxygen gases with its proprietary solid oxide fuel cell producing the systems energy requirements, fueling the pyrometallurgy oven, and reducing the greenhouse gas footprint in current mining operations.

Kevin DuPriest, CEO of Planetoid Mines, said: "We are excited about our in-situ mining technology and to provide a business model that has the potential to disrupt the conventional mining industry. PRISM has been tested on a variety of minerals, and is ready for market and testing on further applications.” With the potential to provide the mining industry a commercially viable and sustainable solution, PRISM is available as a Machine-as-a-Service agreement to provide a low-impact, low capital cost mining method.

“The BHP Mining Challenge sought to reduce the carbon footprint and energy consumption; with a particular focus on reducing water use and improving water quality.” said DuPriest, adding “So we reconfigured our ISM process adding a unique in-situ water electrolysis cell, to generate green hydrogen from wastewater and contaminated groundwater.”

Planetoid Mines team of ISRU and AI robotic engineers have pioneered a new in-situ recovery (ISR) process which has been successfully utilized to recover metals, including uranium and copper. Minerals with ferromagnetic properties like iron ore can easily be segmented through electrostatic beneficiation, and diamagnetic minerals like copper, nickel, gold, and bauxite are separated and concentrated to yield a high purity of concentrate.

The system also employs a third process of paramagnetic beneficiation for the extraction of uranium ore that segments the minerals and isotopes at the wall face, preventing contamination of other minerals.

When combining multiple PRISMs, they work like ants burrowing through tunnels searching for deposits to harvest. DuPriest added; “It is the ideal machine when closing a mine during remediation and rehabilitation phases, and will substantially reduce mine-closure costs compared to conventional practices.” In addition, the energy requirements, water needs, and the greenhouse gas footprint of mining projects can be significantly reduced using PRISM’s technology.

Share with your friends