back to article Luxembourg passes first EU space mining law. One can possess the Spice

Luxembourg's parliament has passed a law that makes it the first European Union country to offer legal certainty that asteroid mining companies get to keep what they find in space. Take Article 1: "Space resources are capable of being appropriated". "It's a great law," Amara Graps, a planetary scientist, asteroid mining …

  1. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Well it's good that aliens can now legally mine asteroids around our solar system. It was always a grey area although not policed much !!!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Of course it was a Grey area.

      And it will stay that way, goddammit.

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Well it's good that aliens can now legally mine asteroids around our solar system. It was always a grey area although not policed much !!!

      Bloody Luxembourgians, as usual they're only after the EU deep space mining subsidies! I already approached Brussels regarding asteroid belt agronomy subsidies, but was told that there are no plans to subsidise space cabbage growers.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I have secured of 9000 million of funding to set up a think tank looking into creating Alastair Reynoldisan Greenfly, only with Luxembourgish National Colors.

        Beware the Red-White-Babyblue skies!

      2. Esme

        @macjules - y'don't want to be eating too many cabbages if you'll be wearing space-suits a lot - and don't even think about baked beans!

  2. Spanners Silver badge

    Dodgy Picture

    Arrakis (where the spice worms come from) does not have open water like that.

    Or was it a troll picture waiting for some geek to say that?

    1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

      Re: Dodgy Picture

      Thats not the only problem with that picture; I don't recall anybody hunting sandworrms with whaling harpoons (and missing a lot) either.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Dodgy Picture

        Come now: you have to drown them to get spice. The harpoons are just for, er, persuasion...

        1. pug0772

          Re: Dodgy Picture

          Spice comes from worm activity and is a by product of their natural processes. The water of life comes from drowning a juvenile worm. I had the same thought that the picture was wrong - sandworms die when exposed to water. But in a later book Waff genetically altered the sandworms to become seaworms to live in water on Buzzell - maybe that is the picture? /Geek

      2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Dodgy Picture

        It's actually a picture of Anti-Rakis, where everything is reversed, sand is water, the Harkonnen are the good guys and the Atreides are evil terrorists that need to be defuned/sanctioned.

        A bit like in the newspapers.

        1. macjules Silver badge

          Re: Dodgy Picture

          Was going to say, that sounds like the Daily Mail.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Dodgy Picture

          El Reg couldn't afford the royalties to show artwork from the real Dune series, so this image is from the Asian knockoff "Doon".

          (Paris plays Lady Jessika in the straight-to-$3-DVD movie version)

          1. Captain DaFt

            Re: Dodgy Picture

            so this image is from the Asian knockoff "Doon".

            Silly pedant time:

            Actually, Doon was the National Lampoon parody.

            (The sprinkles must flow!) ☺

      3. annodomini2

        Re: Dodgy Picture

        "Were whaling on the moon..."

    2. 2Nick3

      Re: Dodgy Picture

      There are so many things wrong with the picture that I'm trying to figure out if it's supposed to be a mix of Dune and some other series. Just can't figure out what the other one would be.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

          Re: Dodgy Picture

          Replaced shortly before 16:58 by the sandy version.

          Come on El Reg.

    3. Pedigree-Pete


      ...didn't originally have water like that . /pedant. PP

      1. Rattus Rattus

        Re: Arrakis....


        Actually, to be really pedantic, Arrakis DID have water like that before the sandtrout were introduced. They locked away all the water so they could safely grow into the sandworms.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dodgy Picture

      I also don't remember Jesus being in Dune.

  3. Ben1892

    as long as they are called something like "Alien mining SARL" they'll be fine - and pay their corporation tax in Luxembourg of course - see what they've done there, it's like dotcom companies but bigger !

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      This assumption is correct.

      The problem is that there is correctly zero tech to do any sort of space mining whatsoever, and you will have to touchdown in China or the US or the Africa-reformatted-by-China, and thus pay "landing taxes"...

      It also doesn't agree with Luxembourg's anti-nuclear stance. Chemical rocket space mining? I laugh. Now, if the next law allows plutonium reprocessing to begin in the industrial wastelands of its southern part, I will change my current sarcastic stance.

      Interestingly, Peter Marquez served as director of space policy under presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama

      Looks pretty junior. I don't know what he got paid for his efforts, pretty sure it must be a 7-number figure. It sounds like he has one of those close-to-State revolving door jobs that are amply rewarded for emitting Word documents.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Or in the middle of the Pacific, well away from any countries' economic zones.

        1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

          Re: Or...

          Like on some sort of barge?

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge

            Re: Or...

            "Like on some sort of barge?"

            run by pirates. Arrrr!

    2. Down not across Silver badge

      as long as they are called something like "Alien mining SARL" they'll be fine - and pay their corporation tax in Luxembourg of course - see what they've done there, it's like dotcom companies but bigger !

      You may find that Wayland-Yutani has just incorporated in Luxembourg.

  4. Mage Silver badge

    Existing Sentient claims

    Will the ECJ or some other court arbitrate between competing claimants, inc. indigenous ones. Is it a case of whoever hires the most mercenaries first has the claim?

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: Existing Sentient claims

      You better hire the United States Space Corps to protect your claims.

      Looking forward to seeing actual Space Marines in action.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Existing Sentient claims

        @Destroy All Monsters

        Nah--Colonial Marines will do just fine. Especially after we lose contact with the mining outpost on planet LV 426.

      2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

        Re: Existing Sentient claims

        Didn't they already have Space Marines in the late 1970ies?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Existing Sentient claims

          > Didn't they already have Space Marines in the late 1970ies?

          That was back when the UK still had functional space shuttles.

        2. Esme

          Re: Existing Sentient claims

          @allthecoolshortnamesweretaken - Yep, for at least a decade previously Mr Heinlein in his historical document "Starship Troopers" released in 1959 was writing about space marines.. I still have a NEL edition showing lots of white space-suited figures with red weapons 'on the bounce' during combat on the cover. Still one of my favourite books, and far, far better than the dreadful film of the same name.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lets pass a law...

    ...stating that we own everything mined in space.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Lets pass a law...

      That might work for a while, until there is a sizable segment of Humanity living off-planet. Then of course they will begin to feel differently about it...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who will testing the materials mined for odd chemicals or pathogens that might be coming back to Earth? Of course, this may all be irrelevant considering

    1. romanempire

      The main point of asteroid mining is to provide materials for construction and consumption in space to avoid the cost of lifting them out of Earth's gravity well.

    2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      > climate-change-earth-too-hot-for-humans.html

      Yup, but not in the next 600 millions years.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: earth-too-hot-for-humans

      Thanks for posting that link - your down-voter should have read it before down-voting you ...

      I wish I had more up-votes I could give you ...

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > "Who will testing the materials mined for odd chemicals or pathogens that might be coming back to Earth?"

      Somebody has been watching old movies.

      "Odd chemicals"? Can't compare to the ones we create right here on Earth. I mean, the idea of Rampaging Minerals from Space is sooo 50's (pretty good movie tho).

      About the pathogens. No fear; any poor, radiation-raddled microbe that somehow manages to arrive intact will find itself at the mercy of an existing (and highly advanced) biosphere, that will of course show no mercy. At best it will somehow survive and become a distinct part of the biosphere, like Archaea but more foreign.

      It's really our implacable microbes that might threaten other potential biomes (Mars, Europa).

      1. IT Poser

        It's really our implacable microbes that might threaten other potential biomes (Mars, Europa).

        Are you sure about that?

        Earth microbes have evolved to compete on Earth. I find it highly doubtful that Earth life will be able to out-compete Martian(or any other location) life in its native habitat.

        That said, we want to identify and understand alien life before we start mixing. We wouldn't want the microbe that produces the cure for cancer to die before we find it.

  7. Chris G Silver badge

    Luxembourg Ministry

    Of economy based in Riga Latvia.

    Now that's outsourcing.

    1. Solo Owl

      Re: Luxembourg Ministry

      Someone at El Reg is drinking more than their quota. A Luxembourg goverment ministry is located in Latvia? Leads me to discount the entire story.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re: Luxembourg Ministry

        Not quite - although admittedly the sentence could have been clearer. Amara Graps, the consultant, is based in Riga, Latvia.

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Is this limited to asteroids no larger than Luxembourg? Luxembourg could be the Reg unit of asteroid size.

    BTW did anyone see the article about a new berg breaking away from Antarctica? The Beeb gave it's size as half a Wales, /. as a whole Delaware.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Depends. How many asteroids are bigger than Luxembourg? Might want to pick a smaller unit, like say, the 'guam,' or maybe even the 'liechtenstein.'

      About that iceberg, Delaware seems to be a natural unit, altho "Two Rhode Islands" might be more apropos. Wales is not useful because it's bigger than any known iceberg.

  9. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

    Jupiter Mining Corp

  10. GeekOps

    We're living in the future

    “Luxembourg’s new space resources law provides Planetary Resources with a strong basis for stability and predictability for our current and future asteroid mining operations."

    Current asteroid mining operations?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: We're living in the future

      Obligatory Far Side

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Usual move for a tax haven, no tax on imported rocks

    Space will be the new wild west.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Usual move for a tax haven, no tax on imported rocks

      Luxembourg is far away from a tax haven, also in the future there will of course be no tax on imported rocks.

      It will be flatlanders who will be taxed to have anything move up or down the gravity well.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They need more than just this

    There would need to be some form of laws which apply in space, otherwise what stops me from letting you do all the hard work of mining an asteroid, then coming along and simply taking what you mined? Are the laws of Luxembourg going to help you now? Thought not.

    I find it hard to believe anyone is going to invest billions in this until there is some assurance they won't have their hard earned gains simply stolen from them.

    1. horriblicious

      Re: They need more than just this

      It would be very expensive to build and operate the hardware required for mining in space. Where do you think funds are coming from for hardware for pirates? I can see it now: "Here's $5BN to build ships and armaments. Try to break even in the first year." All sarcasm aside, I look forward to the day when space travel is so common and inexpensive that piracy is a problem. I think the concern is a bit premature though.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        How to pirate

        You wait for one of the miners to go bankrupt before they ever make it to the mining stage, and buy their ships for pennies on the dollar.

        Though really, if there are no laws against piracy in space, it wouldn't be illegal, so nothing would stop someone from forming a company called "Space Pirates, Inc." that specifically says it will launch ships to go steal someone else's loot when they try and bring it back from the asteroid belt!

        The large majority of the expense of space mining would be in either developing robots that can do the mining unassisted (they can't be remote controlled from Earth due to being dozens of light minutes from Earth) or in sending men out there to do it. Compared to those costs, the cost of simply launching a ship out of Earth's gravity well is a pittance. You don't need to go to the belt to pirate, just hang out at L2 and wait for someone to send their stuff back. Your ship "grabs" theirs and redirects it from its original destination to wherever you want. You can afford to have a larger ship and a lot more fuel since you are close to Earth, and the return mission ship probably taking the 'long slow journey' to save cost, so you can always overpower the rockets on it.

    2. David Roberts Silver badge

      Re: They need more than just this


  13. flearider

    wtf ??

    how can any country write a law about mining in space ?? it belongs to no one

    yes they could take a % if you land your craft in there territory .. but to tell anyone no you cant mine that or yes that small one over there ..

    that's the thing with greed it infects everything ..

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: wtf ??

      It's a law about companies on Earth dealing with mining in space, in particular property and taxation aspects.

      This is just standard.

      Unfortunately we are very far away from having viable space mining tech.

      The way things are going, maybe infinitely away. Well, I have confidence the Chinese can pull something off eventually.

  14. Chris G Silver badge

    Now is the time

    To get satellite swarms into the asteroid belt, try to get as many flag bearing micro sats to stick to asteroids. When technology gets to actually being able to mine anything up there,a lot of it will be owned.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now is the time

      Only one problem.

      There are a LOT of them.

  15. HKmk23

    My Wife

    Bought me a plot of ground on the moon 20 years ago (I have the Deed), so I cannot wait to open my office up there and invite the tax man to visit and collect his cheque!

  16. Cuddles Silver badge

    Seems to be missing some definitions

    "Space resources are capable of being appropriated."

    There does not appear to be any mention of what is meant by either "space" or "resources". As it stands, this law allows people to appropriate* things such as communications satellites or the Hubble space telescope.

    * Definition - "take (something) for one's own use, typically without the owner's permission".

  17. Rol Silver badge

    Yee haw!!

    How does one go about staking a claim?

    That is the most important aspect of all this space mining talk.

    Can I send a fleet of shoe box sized drones out with hundreds of rol flags to plant on everything they touch, and hence own the entire Sol system's resources?

    or more importantly can Precious Metals Inc, effectively go on an asteroid banking mission to ensure its more Earth bound resources remain highly scarce and therefore highly profitable.

    We've seen how land banking works to the detriment of communities, so surely we need to take that experience and legislate against that happening out in space.

    1. Rol Silver badge

      Re: Yee haw!!

      Perhaps one solution could be that all the asteroids you own get taxed at the rate they would be if in production.

      So to bank an asteroid, as in own it and not allow it to be worked, costs the same in tax as if it was in full production.

      There's no point trying for something like that with our current land banking blight, as the ones benefiting from it are the ones we would have to ask to legislate against it.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yee haw!!

      If it's anything like patents, there'll be no need to actually plant flags. It will be enough to vaguely describe the object being "claimed". The system will be introduced in the US first, and then the US claims will be extended to other jurisdictions through inter-governmental "free trade" "agreements" that bypass national legislatures.

  18. Nocroman

    Once again the EU prove it's lack of intelligence and greed.

    1.) The EU does not own the asteroids, nor does it own any of the other planets

    2.) The United States of America was the first to step on the moon, but did not claim it for ourselves but instead making it a giant step for all of MANKIND.

    3.) The EU members are insane And their idiotic way will carry war from this planet into space on to other planets. Is this really what the people of earth want ourselves to be known for If we do make contact with any other lifeform out there? Not me says I.

    To the EU I say. Stand up. Sitting on your brain not only squishes it, but also deprives your brain of the oxygen it needs to think in a logical manor.

  19. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    But ..

    The Earth is just another planet orbiting in space. So this law surely applies equally to mining operations here?

  20. Matt Bryant Silver badge


    The real question is whether the EU will survive long enough to be around when space travel and space mining are regular occurrences.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: LMAO!

      Well, it might be, but it will hopefully be hardcore germanic with a strong link to Russia and plugged directly into the New Silk Road.

      And, you know. Not ethnomasochistic.

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