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by Lewis Roberts

Mackloud is a hell world. The planet is one of the largest non-gas giant planets found in the territory of the former Imperium. At over 21,000km it has a gravity of 3.2G. The gravity coupled with a run away greenhouse effect has created a dense, superheated corrosive atmosphere. Its average temperature is 800K. The seas are filled with sulfuric acid, and the acid constantly rains down on the surface. Needless to say, nothing can live on the planet without extensive equipment. Humans would never have come to the world if it weren't for one thing. The planet is rich in mineral wealth. Mining iron or nickel wouldn't be cost effective, but precious and exotic metals are in ready supply and easily mined. These include iridium, lanthanum and uranium. In addition, the conditions have created several unique gemstones, which are highly sought after.

The Blackburn Mining Group out of Renj, purchased the hull of an old 5000-ton freighter from the government and placed it in orbit. They removed the jump drives and refitted the cargo bays into docking ports and additional staterooms. From the rig, they mount expeditions to the surface. The miners use specially equipped modular cutters that have been modified to resist the corrosive atmosphere. The miners descend to the surface, where they mine for about a week. After that the equipment needs to be refurbished. Miners rent space on the rig, for their equipment and themselves. The Mining Group also offers to purchase the ore from the miners, but there is nothing prohibiting the miners from selling to third parties. Neither the Mining Group nor the miners have an exclusive right to the planet, and anyone is legally allowed to mine it.

The miners are a rough and tumble lot. They are primarily from Renj, but there are representatives from Miisha and Osmosis. While there is no government or laws, the Mining Group does have a few security personnel who make sure no one gets killed and that the company's property isn't damaged. The average system population is about 95, twenty of whom are company personnel. The company will rent quarters to anyone, and recently a few individuals have shown up, who are trying to cater to the miners needs. These include Sandi Monroe, who opened up a bar. Her business is going well, and she is starting to think about opening up a few gaming tables. If this goes forward she will need to import some more workers.

The orbital rig is also able to provide unrefined fuel and some minor spare parts to passing starships. The company has a contract with a Free Trader to supply equipment and to ship the ore and gemstones back to Renj.

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