Project Khepri: Asteroid Mining Project

  • Final policy report

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  • Much like outer space, our legal system consists of many unknowns. This is especially true for new developments in emerging technologies, particularly those related to the exploration, exploitation, and utilization of space resources. The recently developed technical feasibility of space mining has advanced ahead of existing international space treaties. While certain articles of the major UN treaties can be interpreted to adapt to the utilization of space resources, most of these provisions were not originally designed to be applied to a space mining regime. Keeping in mind this context, this paper sets out the current international law landscape, including the areas which require further development, and provides guidance and
    recommendations for governments, international communities, and private actors interested in space resources. To this end, the existing international legal framework is summarized by detailing the significance of the United Nations Space Treaties, the role of customary international law, relevant principles, environmental law, the role of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and previous attempts to govern areas known as res communis. Next, Canadian and United States national law is outlined, including relevant aspects of Canadian national mining law.
    The paper continues on to analyze various approaches to developing a legal framework for space resource extraction and provides recommendations for industry, national and international actors. Given the widespread support at UN discussions, and years of private actors’ development and involvement in related projects, the necessary societal desire for space
    mining regulation is present. To work towards enabling space mining, it is suggested that industry set aside a portion of profits to later be used for the ‘benefit of all’ and work with the Canadian government. At a national level, it is recommended that Canada consider passing national legislation similar to that passed by the United States, Luxembourg, the United Arab
    Emirates, and Japan. Finally, it is recommended that Canada continue to cooperate through international fora to develop non-legally binding principles, otherwise known as ‘soft law’ to contribute to a bottom-up approach.

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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International