Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Neo-Mercantilist Economics

By far the two largest consumers of raw materials are the ship and orbital platform industries, and the colonization industry. Is there money to be made in precious metals and fuel? Sure, but the size is small compared to the massive amounts of money to be made in the provision of raw metals and gasses like: copper for EM quench coils; nickel, cobalt and molybdenum for cermet; lightweight metals for ship frames and interiors; and, the most valuable of all, hydrogen.

Heading out to the gas giants is done, usually be people with significant reserves of money: that said, they also make a lot of money in doing it. It's a lonely life, with the round-trip transit time being on the order of years (15-36 months, depending on ship size and speed). Many ship owners don't bother with crews, because that just costs more money. Other ship owners are just that: owners. They have crews that do the work for them, and they just skim off the top. Ship captains often buy small suckers and then put all the money they get into ICC shares, hoping to build up enough to buy larger ships and so-on (see supra, the HCTA).

Part of the curse of the heliosystem is that it has a total of eight planets, three of them habitable and three of them gas. That leaves precious few to strip-mine for minerals, and the lack of a sizable asteroid belt causes all manner of problems (there's a few thready belts, but nothing on par with ours). Mining takes place both on and off world, with Hera being a planet rich in mineral wealth (that's one reason why they've got so much money). The distance of the gas planets limits their usefulness, but some small operations make trips. One can search on planets, on asteroids, in space for scrap... you think of a place, you can bet there are people looking to supply the insatiable maw of interstellar commerce.

The large companies like Sparta have divisions tasked with doing their mining for them. However, there are other conglomerates that contract out their surveying work (or, in some instances, their mining), so there's no shortage of jobs. Everyone needs these materials: governments, the ICC, the DCSF, Colonial operations, companies that supply these guys... everyone.

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