"While the U.S.A. dabbles with the idea of lunar mining and both India and Russia have, in the past, floated ideas, China is the only power pushing ahead with an actual program,"the publication says. It is head by a photo on NASA's Robotic Mining Competition and the caption,
"China plans to return to the Moon early 2020s. Filling one shuttle's cargo bay with helium-3 could bring the equivalent energy of 1 billion barrels of oil back to Earth."
"The Moon is rich in rare earths, titanium, and could support mining with recent evidence of the existence of water; [but] the big prize when excavating the Moon, is helium-3.... [It] is abundant and accessible on the Moon and could be used in nuclear fusion..."
"The equitable development of fusion fuel on the moon could be a catalyst for clean energy and a global renaissance."
"argues China's program to land on the moon within a decade could be a game-changer."
"Lacking an atmosphere, the moon has been bombarded for billions of years by solar winds carrying helium-3. As a result, the dust of the lunar surface is saturated with the gas. It has been calculated that there are about 1,100,000 metric tons of helium-3 on the lunar surface down to a depth of a few meters, and that about 40 tons of helium-3 — enough to fill the cargo bays of two space shuttles — could power the U.S. for a year at the current rate of energy consumption. Given the estimated potential energy of a ton of helium-3 (the equivalent of about 50 million barrels of crude oil), helium-3 fuelled fusion could ... increase mankind's productivity by orders of magnitude."
"However, supplying the planet with fusion power for centuries requires that we first return to the moon. At present, only China has this in mind, with its Chang-e program, a lunar exploration program that will send astronauts to the moon by the early 2020s. If Beijing wins the second race for the moon, and establishes a sustained human outpost conducting helium-3 mining operations, it would establish the same kind of monopoly that in the past created the fortunes of ventures like the East India Company. The ramifications would be significant, to say the least."
"Still, this scenario is hardly inescapable. On the contrary, lunar exploration and resource development could end up encouraging international cooperation and build confidence. If the space-faring nations see a common destiny, then creative politics, diplomacy, and new legal frameworks could be used as instruments for good governance and an equitable sharing of the spoils. A new international regime for the joint development of lunar helium-3 would then be viable, with all the possibilities for the planet that would entail."