Ore like diamonds, platinum and iridium are brought to Earth via an ore collection ship in exchange for much needed money (i.e., "scrip"). The problem is, most of the available asteroids have been tagged and, thus, claimed by the Multicorps.
Strippers are sanctioned to mine ore along the Highway, but only within the parameters outlined in their license. Strippers who obtain ore outside their allowed quadrant, or miners who strip ore tagged by a corporation, are considered Jumpers (ore pirates). Piracy is illegal and strictly enforced by the TCID's vast fleet of Multi-security "peace keepers." But, with the available asteroids already tagged, the deadly monopoly leaves factions like Bear City and Face Base no choice but to to pirate ore or and occasionally kill each other off in a daily struggle for survival.