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"Looking back through history, I see no evidence for humanity making the best of things, and I think it's a pretty safe bet that's an on-going trend."
- Richard Morgan

Space Placers  
  Miners who use placer mining techniques adapted from Earth geology.  

A fascinating description of Saturn's rings from the standpoint of a mining geologist.

In the outer rings of Saturn worked space placers, gathering to earth's wealth the valuable shards of what had once been satellites.
From The Day We Celebrate, by Nelson S. Bond.
Published by Astounding Science Fiction in 1941
Additional resources -

In geology, a placer deposit or placer is an accumulation of minerals formed by gravity separation during sedimentary processes. The name comes from the Spanish word placer meaning "alluvial sand".

The part that I find fascinating is that the author implies that in the rings of Saturn there could be a useful separation of minerals or materials caused by gravity over millions of years.

Fans of Mark Twain of course remember the wonderful comparison of placer mining with pocket mining from his excellent 19th century novel Roughing It.

Compare to harvesting Saturn's rings from Alfred Bester's 1978 novel The Computer Connection.

See also asteroid mining from Edison's Conquest of Mars (1898) by Garrett P. Serviss, asteroid mining (blasting) from Asteroid of Gold (1932) by Clifford Simak, the meteor miner from Salvage in Space (1933) by Jack Williamson, asteroid claim law from Jurisdiction (1941) by Nat Schachner, the asteroid mining robot from Catch That Rabbit (1944) by Isaac Asimov, the asteroid mine from Love Among the Robots (1946) by Emmett McDowell, and asteroid metal from The Mechanical Monarch (1958) by E.C. Tubb.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Day We Celebrate
  More Ideas and Technology by Nelson S. Bond
  Tech news articles related to The Day We Celebrate
  Tech news articles related to works by Nelson S. Bond

Space Placers-related news articles:
  - Saturn's Rings To Vanish, Let's Mine Them While We Can

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