Help me, you benevolent geology nerd!
This is a question I'm trying to find a workable (but not necessarily precise) answer for a colony-building sci-fi RPG game that I am GMing for some of my friends.
So, the setting is on the harder sci-fi spectrum where faster-than-light travel is impossible. Players arrive at the planet in a futuristic form of cryosleep, and they are the only fully grown humans (the rest are frozen embryos to be incubated on site). Mass was a main concern for the trip, so the ship carried only the necessary equipment to extract resources on site and print them in the colony.
Now, let's assume that the colonists have: 1) An automated industrial sci-fi printer capable of smelting minerals and producing chemicals, if supplied with raw resources, as well as assembling them into useful components; 2) A swarm of drones capable of mining, farming, and building. More drones can be built with the printer once resources are gathered; 3) And I suppose this sci-fi society would probably be prepared for interplanetary exploration, so they would have streamlined most of their technology to use the bare minimum amount of resources necessary and use different elements as substitutes (I'm not sure if this is too far-fetched for a hard sci-fi setting, though. Building chips without silica or gold?).
Nevertheless, players would still need to command the drones to find and mine resources to supply the printer. Organics, oils, and bioplastics could probably be farmed. However, for minerals, I believe they would need iron, aluminum, copper, some gold and silver, lithium, and some rare earth metals - basically, the things necessary to build what we have today.
I have almost no knowledge of geology, so I'm trying to get an idea of the minimum number of different mines necessary to obtain these resources in enough quantity to build stuff that we have today (guns, vehicles, heavy machinery, computers, TV screens, etc). Assume that the first wave of colonists would have to supply and maintain only a colony of 1000 people or so. Would they still need as many mines and a complex supply chain as we have on today's earth? Are these essential minerals found togheter? Assuming that you are only trying to supply technology for 1000 people, would it be viable to mine these minerals from small veins that are not considered economically viable for today's standards?