One of the more contentious areas regarding mining extraterrestrial resources is property rights. A mining company generally wants to be sure that it has clear title to a mine site before investing large amounts of capital in developing the site. On the Moon, there is no such thing as “property rights” and “clear title” right now. There is a working group at Leiden University that is trying to create a framework for this, but that process is still early days.

In order to add confidence to the picture for lunar mining ventures, while not waiting for the cumbersome legal process to come to a conclusion, the US has apparently begun work on a multi-national accord. The idea is to create a regime with “safety zones,” which falls short of legal property rights, but is a way of establishing norms of behavior. Here Reuters reports on the US approach: