US preparing international legal blueprint for mining on the moon

The US government is drafting a legal blueprint for mining on the moon under a new international agreement called the Artemis Accords, named after Nasa’s new moon programme.

The agreement aims to establish ‘safety zones’ around future moon bases operated by rival countries or companies operating in close proximity. It also aims to provide a framework under international law for companies to own the resources they mine.

In the coming weeks, the Trump administration plans to formally negotiate the accords with space partners such as Canada, Japan and European countries, as well as the United Arab Emirates. Russia will not be a partner in these early stages, according to sources close to the matter.

International ratification of this diplomatic and commercial lunar legislation would resemble another key stride towards mining on the moon, after the US enacted a law in 2015 granting companies the property rights to resources they mine in outer space.

Metals and minerals abundant on the surface of the moon with the potential for commercial extraction include silicon, rare earths, titanium, aluminium and precious metals.