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Working in a coal mine: some helpful mining tips

Long time EVE players will undoubtedly look down their noses at new players who post about topics that veterans mastered years ago. This is inevitable, and probably even understandable. But such is the way of life – with each new generation comes the same learning curve that the preceding generation faced. But knowledge can only be transferred from one generation to the next through sharing, and so I will continue to do just that…

The new EVE pilot will more than likely figure out that mining is one potential route to profits, and if you’ve managed to hook up with a corporation that can build more advanced ships for you, you’ll realize that unless your corp mates give you a ship or all the ore you’ll need to build it, you’re going to end up out in the belts of your local system mining away. And mining. And mining. And mining until you feel like you want to blow your brains out.

So from my limited learnings to date, let me share some advice with the new pilot looking to cut their teeth in the belts.

  1. Skill up as soon as possible so that you can acquire an ORE ship. Why? Because mining out in the belts with an industrial or other ship using a regular Miner I is slooooow. But if you get an ORE ship like a Procurer or Retriever, then you’ll be able to mount multiple strip miners in the high slots and your mining time will be cut way down. (The downside, of course, is that if you can afford an ORE ship, then your tastes for other warships has probably gotten more expensive as well, which will force you to spend more time in the belts with your strip miners… ah, the irony.)
  2. Get combat drones. When you get an ORE ship, you’ll want to maximize the number of strip miners you carry, which will effectively eliminate any free slots for offensive weaponry. Therefore your defense will be limited to shields, armor and structure, and even in hisec systems you can still be subject to attacks by Angels or other NPCs who will chew through your defenses in a fairly short period of time. Miners were made for mining, not fighting. And since running away and paying for repairs not only reduces your time spent in the belts but also crimps your profit margin, you need a better solution. Drones are the answer, and all ORE ships have room for two or more. As soon as you warp to a belt, deploy your drones in orbit around your ship and mine away. If hostile NPCs pop up on radar, target them as soon as they get into range and then tell your drones to engage. If you’re lucky your drones will take out one, maybe two, before they lay down the first points of damage on your shields. If you have a shield repairer on board (which I recommend), then you should have no problem fending off the attackers without ever having to interrupt your mining run.
  3. Don’t forget your drones! Man, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve warped back to a station after filling my hold with ore and forgotten my damned drones. Not only is it annoying, but forgetting your drones is a good way to let some random player scoop them up and claim them for themselves. I dunno about you, but I’m not in the business of buying drones and giving them away. So discipline yourself into developing a mental checklist whenever you’re mining. When your strip miners shut down and your cargo is full, recall your drones and then warp away. It never hurts to double-check before you warp. If you do end up forgetting your drops, warp back immediately to where you were and scoop them into your drone bay before some other lucky soul swings by and grabs them.
  4. Go for the concentrated, dense and higher value ores. Don’t waste your time on regular ores like veldspar, scordite and omber. Instead, go for the variations of those ores that offer higher yields like Massive Scordite, Condensed Veldspar and Golden Omber. You can mine them with the same amount of effort as their peer ores, but you can get more units from the same amount of work. Time is money, after all!
  5. Don’t bother salvaging NPCs you kill. If you’re a new player, you probably figured out the best way to make money in the beginning is to run around and salvage wrecks, and maybe grab the loot from the cargo containers left behind. While that’s fine and dandy if you’ve got a fast ship and plenty of high slots, when you get into an ORE ship you’ll find those high slots in short supply. So when you’re mining, forget about fitting a Salvager. Just fit your ship with strip miners and leave it at that. If your drones happen to take out some NPCs while you’re mining, and if the wreck is within a few thousand meters, then thrust on over a bit until you’re within 2,500 meters and grab the cargo, but leave the wreckage for somebody else (or come back later with a different salvage ship within 1-2 hours). Typically the amount of money you’ll make salvaging in an ORE ship isn’t worth what you gave up a strip miner high slot for to fit a salvager. When you mine, just mine.
  6. Use bookmarks! You’ve probably noticed if you zoom out in a belt that it’s in a crescent shape that’s a 180 degree arc. Well, warping to zero in a belt puts you equidistant away from every part of that arc, which means you and your slow-ass ORE need to thrust closer to the belt at the speed of molasses. Even with afterburners on you can easily have a bio break before you get in strip miner range. So save yourself the trouble by creating 2-3 bookmarks in each belt that you frequent. Pick points that are closer to the arc, and space them apart so that your strip miners can reach every part of the belt. This way you just need to warp to one of your bookmarks, turn on your scanner, target the rocks you want, and fire up the strip miners – no need to putt around. I set up 3 bookmarks in a “Mining” bookmark folder which I label “I-1A” at the top of the arc at zero degrees or slightly greater (where I is the moon number, 1 is the belt number, and “A” is the first bookmark”), “I-1B” in the apex of the arc at about 90 degrees, and “I-1C” at the bottom of the arc at 180 degrees or slightly less. All points are within the range of my strip miners, so if I mine out all the rocks within range of point A, I just warp in to point B the next time and pick up there, and then to C. Easy as pie.
  7. Get a survey scanner. Sure, you can use the asteroids shown in the overview, but that doesn’t tell you how much ore remains in each rock. The survey scanner will tell you, which can save you the heartache of having a strip miner waste a full cycle on a rock that only has 10 units of ore left in it. As soon as you warp in to your bookmark, fire up the scanner and then target the rocks you want to work on.
  8. Orient towards your escape destination immediately upon getting in position. This is purely a defensive move, since your ORE ship maneuvers like an old, blind pig loaded with bricks, and if you’re getting your ass handed to you by attackers, the last thing you want to do is find yourself screaming at your monitor while trying to warp out, yet your ship is taking its dear sweet time to get into position. Your strip miners work in any orientation, so this reorientation precaution has zero impact on your mining ability or results. If you do get attacked and things are starting to look scary, then you’re already oriented towards your escape point – just select it and warp off to safety. Simple.
  9. Don’t mine in losec without well armed friends. At the moment I’m not a fan of wandering into losec unless I’ve first checked the local intel channel (in Molden Heath it’s called “Molden Intel” and Metropolis has “Metropolis Intel”), switched to a big ship with lots of defenses and offensive firepower, and have a friend or two to come along. But hey, we all know that not all the ores we need are found in hisec, so at some point you’ll need to wade into those riskier losec waters and face the wrath of heartless pricks that take sheer joy in laying waste to your fabulous ORE ship. So if you do need to go into losec to mine, be damned sure you’re going along with some friends that can sit High Guard over you – and be sure they can take on a battlecruiser or two. But whatever you do, never ever, ever, ever, ever go AFK while in losec. That was the first major stupid mistake I made in EVE and it cost me millions. (My next major stupid mistake will be all new, I assure you.)
  10. Maximize your cargo space. The fewer runs you need to do to the local station to unload your ore, the more time you can spend in the belts getting ore. If you use the suggestions above to bookmark mining spots and use drones for defense, then you can dump everything in your low slots and install Expanded Cargo units in them. This can easily boost your storage by a good 20% or so percent, and Tech II cargo units provide even more space.

So, to recap, here’s a handy mining procedure recap:

  1. Set bookmarks in any new belt you visit that you plan to frequent in the future. Always warp into them, never warp to 0 in a belt after your first visit.
  2. Upon arrival at your bookmark, reorient your ship towards your escape point. When in position, kill your engines or you’ll thrust out of range of your rocks. If things look sketchy, warp out immediately.
  3. Deploy your drones. If enemies are in range and you think you can take them out before they take you out, target them and order your drones to engage.
  4. Fire up your survey scanner. Once you know where the rocks are with the most ore you’re after, target them.
  5. Engage your strip miners. Use multiple miners on big rocks you want to concentrate on, or you can focus each miner on a different rock. Your technique may vary.
  6. Recall your drones when the strip miners cut off or your cargo hold is full.
  7. Warp out.

I hope this helps somebody. Enjoy, and fly safe!

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