Seattle's own Planetary Resources debuted its program to mine near-earth asteroids for platinum and a water, and Moon Express in California unveiled their plan to mine the moon for the same things.
A while back I wrote about different scenarios which could lead to permanent colonization of other worlds within our solar system. At the time I specifically discounted off-world mining as a major motivator.
From December 13, 2010: "Mineral or other wealth has always been a strong motivator, but there's no reason to imagine that we'll experience a Lunar or Martian Gold-Rush anytime soon. Mars has plenty of iron, but so does earth, and earth's iron deposits are a lot closer."
So much for my powers of prognostication!
The rationale is that there are some single asteroids with more accessible platinum than all the platinum on the surface of the earth combined. My first thought on this is, if this works, I'm really glad I never invested in platinum. I'm just old enough to remember when amethyst was considered a precious gemstone, before the massive deposits were fund in Brazil. Now kids can buy fist-sized chunks of it in science-center gift shops with their baby-sitting money. If these commercial operations are successful, platinum could similarly cease to be a precious metal. But it might make a nice building material.
Will be posting much more about this, soon.