Things like the polymetallic “manganese” nodules are well known from deep-sea explorations. Exploiting them is another question, but in May 2010, the International Seabed Authority approved rules and procedures to govern exploitation of polymetallic sulfides on the sea floor. Within two weeks, the China Ocean Mineral Resources Research and Development Association applied for approval to explore for such minerals. How they would do that, technologically, is still in some question. The cited reference (PDF) has some ideas for deep-sea mining.
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