I wonder what is concentration of iron in Moon's soil and whether iron ore is available there. Is there enough iron for successful industry?

  • $\begingroup$ Industry would need not only iron but also the other metals like copper, aluminium and so on. A method to reduce metal oxides to metal is needed too. On earth we use carbon and oxygen for reduction (in fact we use carbon monoxide) but on moon it should be done with materials from the moon olny. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    May 15, 2017 at 18:43

2 Answers 2


Yes, oxides of typical engineering metals, such as iron, aluminum, magnesium, titanium and silicon (as a semiconductor and important alloy material) are abundant on the lunar surface. It is unknown whether there are large deposits of heavier elements like lead, tungsten, chromium or uranium. Although the moon is mainly composed of light elements, radioactive thorium has been proven to exist in the Compton–Belkovich Anomaly on the far side.

A greater challenge to a moon colony could be the scarcity of hydrogen and therefore water. Even the poles of the moon, which likely hold the most water (in the form of ice), it is not entirely clear that enough water is present for a larger scale colony.


Nitrogen is also uncommon, which makes it hard to create a breathable and non-flamable atmosphere. Nitrogen is also used in metal surface treatments. Cabon is also scarce, but it has the advantage of being a dense solid at room temperature, so it can be more easily shipped from earth than nitrogen or hydrogen.

Both nitrogen and carbon are available in a few parts per million in Lunar regolith.




  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "are drier than the driest deserts on earth" Cite please. There may be rich volatile deposits in the lunar poles. We don't yet know how much hydrogen, nitrogen and carbon is available in the polar cold traps. Please amend your answer. $\endgroup$
    – HopDavid
    Nov 11, 2014 at 21:31
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    $\begingroup$ I'm looking at the Resources15.pdf. Fegley and Swindle evidently don't think it's worthwhile to date their paper. There have been lots of recent orbiters and a lander that have dramatically changed our knowledge of the moon. Did they write their paper before or after Chandrayaan-1, LRO, etc? $\endgroup$
    – HopDavid
    Nov 11, 2014 at 21:45
  • $\begingroup$ 2160.pdf looks at nitrogen in lunar basalt samples brought back. A way to measuer indigenous nitrogren. But it tells us nothing about the exogenic nitrogen that may have found its way to the lunar cold traps. $\endgroup$
    – HopDavid
    Nov 11, 2014 at 21:51
  • $\begingroup$ @HopDavid to be fair Antarctica is a very dry continent/desert, yet probably has more water than the moon. $\endgroup$
    – NPSF3000
    Dec 9, 2014 at 1:47
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    $\begingroup$ @NPSF3000 are you aware of the discoveries made in the last 5 years? Chandrayaan-1? There some indications the lunar poles have lots of water. Other data suggest not so much. It is still an open question. Rikki Tikki Tavi's obsolete cites don't settle the question and neither does your citeless statement of opinion. $\endgroup$
    – HopDavid
    Dec 9, 2014 at 3:10

Based on the information on the following websites, my answer would be 'enticingly potential':




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Source: http://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/luna/esp_luna_62.htm

If there were be an iron extraction industry on the Moon it would be on the near side.

The greatest concentrations of iron occur in the Maria (the flat plains). In these locations the concentration tends to be about 15%, but can be as high as 25%. By comparison, the major iron ore mines of Australia and Brazil tend to mine iron ore grading 55% to 65%. China and Sweden however mine lower grade ore averaging 35% Fe.

Iron on the Moon occurs in two main forms: combined with other elements such as ilmenite (FeTiO3), originating from Moon rock and there is free iron originating from meteors impacting on the Moon.

The free iron is already in powdered form and could easily be collected using magnets. Iron in combination with other elements will require some form of mineral processing to liberate the iron.

The lateral extent of iron on the Maria of the Moon is large. One of the main things that will determine the viability of an iron extractive industry on the Moon will be the depth of the iron rich deposits. The other factors will be the easy or difficulty with which the deposits can be mined and then processed.

Other factors will be the availability of energy to power the mining and processing equipment and the impact of the abrasiveness of Moon dust on such equipment. The equipment will need to work when required, not be idle due maintenance and overhaul issues resulting from excessive abrasive wear and tear.

Equipment that will be used to mine and process iron will need to designed and manufactured to prevent the fine iron dust from short circuiting electrical components.

  • $\begingroup$ Solar panels and ovens should work. A Fresnel lens can't short out. $\endgroup$ Nov 5, 2017 at 23:53

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