"The science fiction method is dissection and reconstruction. You look at the world around you, and take it apart into its components. Then you take some of those components, throw them away, and plug in different ones, start it up and see what happens."
One way to get materials out of an asteriod is to send a mechanical worm to chew through to what you want.
Larry Niven made use of the idea in a 1968 story - see the mining worm (organic) from A Gift From Earth.
Mining Worm (Robot)-related
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