From Wikipedia: "Asteroid mining refers to the possibility of exploiting raw materials from asteroids and other minor planets, including near-Earth objects. Minerals and volatiles could be mined from an asteroid or spent comet to provide space-construction materials (e.g., iron, nickel, titanium), to extract water and oxygen to sustain the lives of prospector-astronauts on site, as well as hydrogen and oxygen for use as rocket fuel. In space exploration, these activities are referred to as in-situ resource utilization." (read the rest of the article)
Companies like Planetary Resources are planning to mine near-Earth asteroids for raw materials, ranging from water to precious metals. They're working on developing exploration technologies for prospecting resource-rich asteroids that are easily accessible.
The knowledge and technology developed for mining near-Earth asteroids for resources can benefit us locally here on earth, and allow us to explore far beyond it. If we want to be able to travel to other planets, and beyond then we are going need all the resources and knowledge we can acquire.
I am not endorsing any company mentioned in this article, but if you want to research this technology check out the video or visit their web site www.planetaryresources.com.