The largest 3He producer in the System, prior to the opening of the Melíeréan gas mines by Extropa Energy, was undoubtedly White Plains Regolithics, ICC, a joint venture between Arctorr Heavy Industries, ICC, Empire Nucleonics, ICC, and members of the Seléne Commercial Habitation Consortium.
Of course, they did not just mine 3He. The Selénian regolith contains all manner of volatiles, and what is still in high demand everywhere around Seléne and its orbital space? Volatiles. No plutarch worth his metal was going to cede that market entirely to the ice barons of Evershade and the Macroscian Arky. Selling these volatiles to Selénian domes, in addition to delivering mass shipments of partially processed regoslag to the local Atalant Materials, ICC, branches, wildcat smelters, and glassboard fabbers alike were more than enough to assure WPR of profitability even before delivering its intended primary product to Empire Nucleonics customers.
Another key to the profitability of White Plains Regolithics was its use of early autoindustrialism. While not yet fully self-replicating, WPR made use of robotic mobile industrial nodes, controlled at the policy level but not directly teleoperated by a minimal staff of supervisors and field service engineers based in the corporate offices at Silverfall City.
Upon entering a region – guided by equally autonomous resource-scouting microbots – these nodes would manufacture from resources in situ the basic infrastructure needed to exploit that region: a power and communications grid based on solar-to-microwave towers, a transportation framework back to the central WPR facility at Silverfall City, and a sufficient quantity of resource-harvesting robots (most commonly the precursors of today’s ubiquitous foot-long swarmdozers) to deliver the harvested resources back to an in-situ constructed pre-processing node, and thence onwards.
While the mobile industrial node and mobile robots would move onward in an ever-growing swarm to harvest new regions when their task was complete, rather than attempting to relocate or recycle the associated fixed power, communications, and transportation facilities, WPR policy was to leave this infrastructure in situ and sell it, at a discounted rate, to up-and-coming Selénian business concerns. This policy birthed the White Plains Industrial Zone, a sprawling, thriving industrial region spread across the depleted regolith of the southern White Plains – and, not coincidentally, cultivated many new customers for WPR’s, and its parent companies’, services.
– from a student essay on early industrial ecology