Russia is a leading producer of natural resources and now plans to join Luxembourg in mining for minerals in outer space, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova said on Wednesday last week.

Russia revealed plans Wednesday to join Luxembourg in their efforts to explore outer space mining prospects focusing mainly on minerals available in asteroids such as iron, cobalt, and nickel.

While commercial mining in outer space is still far off, the small European country of Luxembourg recently adopted legal regulations pertaining to space mining and is “eager to work with other countries” on a multilateral agreement dealing with asteroid rights.

Although space mining has been the realm of science fiction, there are a handful of firms and governments pursuing the idea of making it a reality.

“In January we offered Luxembourg a framework agreement on cooperation in the use of (mining) exploration in space. We expect an answer from Luxembourg,”

– Golikova, part of a Russian delegation to Luxemburg headed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Countries and companies are aware of the need for a legal framework for mining operations beyond the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which bans government from claiming celestial bodies such as the Moon, but the framework is considered vague and outdated by many.

Luxembourg has been active in setting such a framework, having previously signed agreements with Japan, Portugal and the UAE concerning mining in space. Russia believes it would be open to a similar agreement.