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Working in a Coal Mine, Part II: Advanced Mining Tips

By now, if you’re like me, you’ve been mining for a few months and have probably acquired your first Exhumer class ship, and are already enjoying the benefits that it can provide. I’m going to share a few useful tidbits of information that I’ve learned either through advice or experience, hopefully you’ll find some of them useful.

If you’ve not already read my earlier article “Working in a Coal Mine: Some Helpful Mining Tips“, go ahead and give that a quick read, then come back to this article. That first article lays out some basic suggestions for a successful mining career, and this article builds upon that.

And here we go…

  1. Did you get an Exhumer yet? If you didn’t get an Exhumer by now, do so as soon as possible. The difference in time savings and mining yield rate between an Exhumer class ship and an ORE class ship like a Retriever is significant, and absolutely worth all the effort it’ll take to get one. If you’re in a corporation, see if others can help you get together what you’ll need to make this happen. Beg, borrow, steal – whatever it takes – just get in one of these things. You’ll find you can accomplish far more in less time than before, which will free up more time to either mine more, go missioning, or whatever it is you’d like to do with the extra free time.Be advised that the Exhumer skill alone is typically priced at 24M ISK on the open market, so be mentally and fiscally prepared for that investment – but trust me, you’ll make it all back with dividends fairly quickly.
  2. Maximize Your Mining Capabilities. This is done two ways; first, by improving your mining skills, and second by putting the best possible equipment on your ship. Don’t sweat the costs for the hardware and skills to make all of this happen, it will be completely worth it!
    • Skills: Definitely maximize your Mining skill as soon as possible, as this will help increase your ore yield. A couple percent per skill level may not seem like much, but over the long term that can easily equate to millions of units of additional ore in the same amount of time as before.
    • Equipment: Besides getting an Exhumer, upgrade your strip miners to the Tech 2 versions, and be sure to get the right crystals for the ore you plan to go after. You’ll need to acquire the appropriate skills for these new toys, but it’s going to take you to a whole new level of yield.
  3. Multi-player mining operations. In short, when you go mining, try to bring friends. This is especially true in losec or 0.0 space for purposes of protection, but it’s just as true in hisec systems. Find someone you know and trust (i.e., corp mates) who is willing to join you in a mining op, coordinate the time and location with them, and sort out who will perform what role. Who will mine? Who will haul? How will you divvy up the yield when the op is over? Once you get these basics out of the way, your op should settle into a groove, and most of your time will be spent chatting away while the ore piles up.I don’t get into large scale mining operation management in the article, since I’ve yet coordinated such an op, but perhaps in time as I gain experience doing that I’ll write up another article intended for aspiring mining directors.
  4. Fleet up. The very first thing you should do is create a fleet for any op involving two or more ships. This is practical for purposes of communication, location and security. Don’t chat about your op in local or an unsecure channel, and use the fleet window to warp to other players in your fleet. If you have a large fleet, make sure the pecking-order and roles are all clear, and make sure everybody is on the same page about how the op is going to work. Generally the op organizer should be calling all the shots.
  5. Haulers are your friends. Yes, industrials and haulers are boring, but when it comes to a mining op, these are your best friends. The only better friend on a mining op is the guy that’s performing High Guard duty for you while you’re mining away in losec or 0.0. Be sure you and your hauler have tight communications, and everything should go smoothly.The size ships you use for hauling will have a big influence the overall flow of your mining op. Obviously the bigger the hauler, the better off you all are and the smoother things will go. You want a hauler to either be big enough – or capable of making enough runs to dump ore off at a local station – to ensure that your mining ships’ cargo holds don’t fill up. Because once a miner’s holds fill up and the strip miners have no place to dump the ore, things will begin to grind to a halt, and that’s not good for anybody. Active strip miners means profits are being made; idle strip miners are wasting everybody’s time.

    Depending upon the number and classes of mining ships used, you may be able to get away with a single industrial making a lot of runs, or you may need something bigger like an Orca to keep up with high yield ops. A single Exhumer can easily be serviced by a single industrial, like a Minmatar Hoarder or Mammoth, for example. Depending on the volume of the ore, it typically has to make an offloading run to a local station every 1.5 to 3 strip miner cycles. If you have a large mining fleet, you’ll want an Orca to tag along, as they provide extremely large cargo capacity and will reduce the number of offloading runs.

  6. Hauler equipment. Great, you’ve got a hauler. Now what should they bring to the op?
    • Storage! Storage! Storage! Haulers really don’t need much in the way of equipment beyond lots and lots of storage. The more cargo space you can get in your hauler, the fewer runs it will need to make. I highly recommend that whatever class hauler you use, get Expanded Cargohold II units in all of your low slots, and max out all your rig slots with Cargohold Optimization units (T2 being the preferred version as they provide more space). Combine those two and you can dramatically increase the amount of ore to haul.
    • Offensive and defensive capabilities. If you’re in hisec space, you really don’t need to worry about this. It’s assumed that the mining ships will all have actively deployed drones that should handle most rats that pop up in the belts, so just keep your haulers within close range of the bulk of the mining ships and you should be fine. For peace of mind you can equip a shield repairer, which can often give you enough protection to wait for help or get into position to warp off to safety.
    • Speed. Haulers are clumsy, slow and handle like beached whales, so there’s not a whole lot you can do to make them dramatically faster. So while haulers are advised to warp directly to a miner in the same fleet when returning from an offloading run to a station, you never know when you’ll need to thrust around within a belt. This is most likely to happen when you’re mining out a quiet belt and the miner needs to reposition near new asteroids. For this reason, go ahead and mount an afterburner or other device that will give you a little boost. Nobody likes waiting longer than they have to, and odds are you won’t be using those mid-level slots for anything else anyway.
    • Mount a salvager and/or tractor beam. Miners with drones leave behind a trail of rats wherever they go, and more often than not they don’t bother salvaging them or taking the loot. If you’re in a fleet op, haulers can take advantage of this by taking along a tractor beam and a salvager. Have your miners hold off engaging rats until they’re within 20km (the range of most small tractor beams), and when the battle is done, haulers can target the wreck, tractor them in, and salvage them at less than 5km. I suggest pulling them to closer than 2.5km before starting a salvage op, as that will let you also grab the loot from the remaining container after the salvager has done its dirty work.
    • Don’t underestimate the amount of money you can make off of even the most non-threatening rats. Tritanium bars can easily yield you 150,000 ISK or more on the open market, and as a hauler, you’ve really got nothing else to do but sit, wait and chat, so this can occasionally help break up the monotony of waiting.
    • If your hauler has a single high-slot available, as is the case with the Minmatar Hoarder class industrial, and your are servicing multiple mining ships and using jetcans to transfer ores from the miners, take a tractor beam instead of a salvager. This will let you service multiple miners within a 20km radius of the hauler without needing to thrust around between them. Take care, however, that this technique will make you more exposed to can flippers who intercept cans being tractored between ships.
  7. The One-Man Tag-Team Mining Technique (or, The One-Woman Tag-Team Mining Technique). This technique requires that you have two accounts on EVE, not just two characters on a single account. In this approach, you’ll use one character as a miner and the other as a hauler. Provided you have sufficient hardware to have two different accounts logged in simultaneously (you can run multiple instances on a single PC if your hardware can handle it), skill up and equip the mining character on one account, and skill up and equip a hauling character on the other account. Here’s how it works.
    • Log them both in simultaneously then fleet them together.
    • Have your miner go out first, locate an ideal mining spot, deploy the drones and fire up the strip miners.
    • Then switch to your hauler and have them warp directly to your miner’s location, and thrust to within 1,500m.
    • As the miner fills up, jetcan the ore.
    • Switch to your hauler, have the hauler grab the jetcan contents (see my notes about jetcan flippers below).
    • When the hauler fills up simply warp back to a local station to offload, then warp back to the miner, and reposition again with 1,500m of the miner.
    • Switch back to the miner, and repeat this process until your miner is ready to move to a new location.In general, never leave an undefended hauler sitting around in a belt or other location while your miner is looking for a spot, even in highsec. Leave them in a station until you’re ready to mine, and then warp directly to the miner. Haulers typically can’t take a pounding for very long, and the last thing you want to do is lose a ship to rats because you were distracted relocating your miner in another belt.
  8. Minimizing Your Losses to Jetcan Flippers. Everybody has had some prick swing by and steal the contents of their jetcan. If you’ve not had it happen to you yet, you will, just give it time. One notorious trick some flippers use when they see a miner and hauler using the jetcan technique is to ram the hauler at high speed so it’s bumped out of the 2,500m range of the jetcan, then they quickly grab the can’s contents and run away. And odds are that whoever is doing this will outgun you both handily and there won’t be much you can do about it, even if they’re a measly frigate (unless you have High Guard protection, that is, in which case your guard should hunt the dog down and pod them). Miners and haulers are slow, typically effetely armed, and realistically they’re both probably away from their keyboards or not paying attention most of the time. So for can flippers, your op is essentially a flying billboard that proclaims, “Come steal my stuff!”Yes, it’s easy enough to mine back the ore that a can flipper can take. But why spend the extra time if you don’t need to? There is a way you can still effectively use jetcans and minimize your losses to can flippers without disrupting your mining workflow and production. I call it my “one unit jetcan trick”, and it assumes that both your miner and hauler are both within 2,500m of a shared jetcan (used to transfer ore between the two).

    So without further ado, I present my “One Unit Jetcan Trick”:

    • When the miner is first ready to jettison a can filled with ore for the hauler, the miner should take a single unit of the least valuable ore being mined and separate that out from the rest of the ore he’s going to put in the jetcan. For example, if you’ve got 30,000 units of Concentrated Veldspar to transfer, split the stack so you have one stack of one unit of ore, and a second stack with 29,999 units of ore.The miner should notify the hauler in fleet (or audio) chat that a jetcan launch is imminent. A simple “jetcan” call should suffice. This will help the hauler know to move fast as soon as they see the jetcan appear. (If you see somebody you suspect of being a can flipper, and if they’re in close proximity to your can, just hold off on putting ore in it until they go away.)
    • The miner then will select both stacks, then jettison them both as a single jetcan. This jetcan will continue to exist for up to two hours, or until all contents are removed. The objective here is to always leave the single unit stack in the jetcan and not remove it.
    • The hauler needs to immediately open the jetcan and transfer the stack of 29,999 units of ore into the hauler’s cargo hold. Leave the single unit stack in the jetcan so the can does not disappear.
    • Repeat as needed, but continue using the same single jetcan until you need to move elsewhere. When you do move, grab the single unit stack and the jetcan will disappear. No need to give can flippers a reason to poke around your cans.

    Why bother with this? Well, let me tell ya’…

    • It alleviates the need for the miner to work around the jetcan timer, which allows jettisoning cargo to once every several minutes. Why jettison can after can when you can do it once and make your life simpler? Remember, every time a new jetcan is jettisoned, that means the hauler will have to open it up as well… what’d be the point of that when both players can open the can just once?
    • This will leave the jetcan intact for subsequent transfers by quick drag and drop operations to and from the jetcan by both the hauler and miner, leaving a very tiny window for a can flipper to grab the contents while the ore is still in there.
    • It’ll piss off any can flippers that think they’re going to get a big score, and leave you with a smile on their face when they’ve flipped it and consequently opened themselves up to aggro for just one unit of a nearly worthless ore. This can be particularly amusing if you’ve got a friendly warp disruptor equipped gunship within striking distance.

    For the record, I’ve not read or heard of anyone using the above technique before. This is not to say nobody has ever done it. I’m assuming that somebody, somewhere in the EVE universe in the last few years has used this technique before, but it was new to me, so I’m presenting it as such. If you’ve used this before, all hail you for being completely brilliant! 😉

  9. Melting your ore. When all is said and done, you’ll probably want to melt your ore to help you advance your Machiavellian objectives. Be sure that you are able to process any ores so that you lose nothing in the process. If you don’t have the suitable skills or standing at a station to make this possible, find someone friendly who does and ask them if they can do it for you (you can contract them a container with all the ore to melt). There’s no point in having waste in your melting process, as that basically means you’ve wasted a proportional amount of time in the belts getting the ore in the first place.
  10. Splitting the loot. How you divvy up the bounty of your labors is up to you and those you went mining with. This can be an equal share per contributor; all of it can be donated to a particular player to help them advance to their next ship, or whatever works for your mates. Just be sure everybody’s happy, because odds are you’re going to need to work with them again very soon.

I hope these tips help somebody, because they’re practices that have definitely helped me with what’s become a fairly lucrative mining career.

3 comments to Working in a Coal Mine, Part II: Advanced Mining Tips

  • Just commenting on your single ore jetcan trick (you can ignore my last comment, I see what you mean by it now).

    It’s not new…people do it ALL the time. And, it doesn’t piss us off…personally, it just makes me mess with ya more 😀

  • We’ve used the 1 unit of ore for a long time. It is a good way to alleviate some of the can-flipping risk. An even better way to do so is to use a bookmark. Create a dummy bookmark for just about anything [except maybe your super-secret safe spot] and name it something cheeky like, “Bwahahahaha” or “Nothing to see here” and then drag it into your cargo hold. Jettison it as normal and leave it in the can instead of the unit of ore. This is useful for two reasons: 1, the ore is valuable, the bookmark, not so much; 2, the bookmark takes up zero volume which means more ore can fit.

    Another advanced tip is to consider the mining implants [HX-0, HX-1, HX-2 and Michi’s “I’ve got more isk than brains” Excavation Augmentor] for additional boosts to yield [1%, 3%, 5% and 5%].

    An even more advanced tip is to have a corp-mate train to use the mining gang-links. The one to increase range is nice, the one for shorter mining laser/harvester duration is a godsend and the one for reduced cap is pants. A fully trained Orca pilot with Mining Director 5 is going to easily knock 25% off the cycle time. Theoretically this is going to be roughly equal to adding an additional mining barge for every 4 people in the op.

    This can even be boosted further by the pilot training Cybernetics V and plugging in the Mining Foreman Mindlink. Mining insanity never tasted to good!

    And finally, the creme-de-la-creme, the low-sec/null-sec use of a Rorqual to boost yield, compress ore and fit clone vats for easy access.

  • Great suggestions! That’s one of the things I love about EVE – the complexity. No matter how much I’ve learned or think I know, there’s always more (and somebody willing to share the knowledge). Good stuff, thanks!

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