"While executives at Planetary Resources are no doubt interested in avoiding being wiped out by incoming cosmic boulders, they are in the game for others reasons. The firm is on the lookout for asteroids that it can land on and harvest all of valuable minerals many contain using robot miners and automated smelting facilities.
The firm is backed by Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, Charles Simonyi, and James Cameron, and was launched in 2012 with lofty claims of mining its first space rock by 2022. So far that plan has slipped a bit already.
Initially the company had planned to get its first asteroid spotting orbital telescope into orbit by 2014, and held a successful $1.5m crowdfunding campaign. But its first test platform was distributed over a wide area of Eastern Virginia when the Orbital Sciences' Antares rocket carrying it detonated over NASA's Wallops Flight Facility last October.
Planetary Resources will be taking another shot at getting a telescope into space next month, but there's still a long way to go before it can send out the planned automating mining and processing bots to likely targets. Then there's the piffling problem of getting the minerals back to Earth, or at least orbit, safely and economically." The Register
I have seen this movie and I liked it. It would seem that the moon would be an even more promising source of rare earths, helium and other materials hard to come by on earth.
I would expect to see the prompt emergence of a "ban the strip mining" movement here on earth. As I recall, a "Red Mars," political faction quickly appeared in the famous Mars trilogy. pl