This is both fabulous and vexing at the same time, for multiple reasons.
1. Encourages development of space -- yay!
2. Opens the door for a future incentive for corporations to lobby for ownership rights of celestial bodies (currently prohibited by treaty, but how long will that last when there's money* to be made?) - ugh.
(* Big amounts. Really big amounts. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big the amounts are. I mean, you may think college tuition is expensive, but that's just peanuts...
3. Will this involve humans working in space, or just smart robots?
3a. If humans, will the miners be co-owners, or just yet more corporate serfs? Will safety continue to be as vital as it has been with NASA and current experimental private endeavors, or will space miners be treated like coal miners are today?
3b. If robots, will this just lead to yet more wealth-concentration? Or can we start demanding payment for the exploitation of natural wealth, after the initial investment is paid off?
4. This could mean a reprieve from some of the hard resource limits our civilization seems about to run into -- yay!
5. Will we use that reprieve wisely, or will this be seen as justification for continuing business as usual?
5a. Will space just become the next way for the super-rich to isolate themselves from the problems caused by their exploitation of Earth and their fellow humans?
5b. Will we deeply regret, fifty years or a century from now, the currentl complete lack of regulatory supervision over space mining and other for-profit extra-terrestrial practices? What scientific discoveries will end up overlooked on the slag-heap because scientific research isn't profitable -- or even concealed, in case they might be valuable to the discoverer at some future time? (Imagine 2001
if TMA-1 had been discovered by Microsoft or Monsanto.)
I could probably go on, but that seems like a good starting set of considerations.via +Marla Caldwell https://plus.google.com/u/0/+MarlaCaldwell/posts/7G8pd2gFUn9 .