This is my Elite Dangerous mining guide, very much work in progress. I’m not the worlds best miner or anything, but I generally know where to mine, the ships, the equipment, how to make money and maybe keep it all to an amusing level! Let me know if anything helps or if I can add anything more useful…
- Make money! Like trading, mining income generally scales with the size of your ship, how efficient you are and the quality of missions you have access to. Mining probably isn’t as speedy earner as loop trading, but you can still make good money and maybe relax more.
- It can be as fun as you make it! From chilled out mining on your own to adventurous mining in RES zones defending yourself against pirates for the chance of higher rewards.
What to look for:
- Plenty of slots for cargo and equipment – You’ll want at least cargo, refinery, collectors, a prospector and ideally a shield too. There is a sweet spot to cargo vs speed of collection. The right balance is probably a matter of feel and may take some experience to find.
- A medium hardpoint – One is generally enough for most ships and will fragment fast enough to keep at least 5-7 collectors busy. Two medium hardpoints fragments very fast, easily enough for at least 7-9 collectors, maybe more. Two (or more) small hardpoints can also be used, but are noticeably slower to fragment and asteroid.
These are the ships that I have mined in:
- Cobra MKIII – Lovely to fly and good enough at most things, mining is no exception. Enough space/slots for all the gear and 2 medium hardpoints, leaving a few spare for defence. Very affordable mining ship with a boost speed that can not only get you about quickly, but also help you get your load home! (boost around 530m/s with grade 3 dirty drives) <Sample loadout>
- Type-6 – Despite only having 2 small hardpoints and no defensive capability, it’s allows for relatively steady profits with the right load-out. It’s potentially high boost speed (~500m/s with grade 3 dirty drives) is also very useful, because running is your only option when in danger. – <sample loadout>
- Asp Explorer – A big step up all round once fully equipped, but relatively big money early on. You’ll feel good mining in an asp, make decent money and be safer on the journey home <sample loadout>
- Type 7 – If you have the patience to use 2 small mining lasers (I used to get bored waiting to fill the hold), it’s massive capacity can lead to some serious hauls. Even after fitting a shield and ample equipment you’ll still have around 200t to fill. Like the type 6, its for chilled mining and running from pirates is the only option, it’s a lot slower than a T6 though so be careful. <sample loadout>
- Python – A really, really nice mining ship. This for me was when mining really opened out, mainly because it allows a lavish spread of space and equipment, whilst maintaining a generally superior level of armament. I currently enjoy mining in something like this : Engineered Python Mining Rig
- Type 9 – Have only done a bit of speculative mining in mine, so more of a first impressions. Something about it just seems ‘authentic’, big, industrial, red dwarf style! The first thing that strikes me about it when comparing it to mining in smaller ship is how slow it is getting about in the asteroid field. To compensate for this, there is obviously huge cargo space (nice 8A slot!) and enough spare slots to comfortably have 9 collectors and two medium lasers. Just for fun I tried taking a imperial fighter to zip around the place. Anything other than small pirate ships are likely to be risk opponents though : Local Area Heavy Miner With Fighter Support
Other ships that I would imagine are good too:
- Adder – Entry level mining in a nice nimble ship with a medium hardpoint. I would risk going shieldless in favour of full equipment and cargo, it’s agile enough to avoid asteroids, something like this maybe Adder Miner
- Viper MKIV – I expect this ship might make a slightly tougher alternative to the Cobra MKIV, although slower and less agile.
- Federal Dropship – I’ve not tried this, but I reckon you could use it to do some rough area mining. In pure mining terms, it’s a pity that the Dropship has those two reserved optional slots, but on the plus side this makes it a tough cookie! I put this (Federal Dropship (Combat Capable Miner) build together, it features moderate engineering to keep the shields hi and some other modules cheaper. I have also favoured 5 collectors in return for less cargo. I expect this would actually work quite well.
- Type 9 – Haven’t tried it, but something about it just seems ‘real’, big, industrial, red dwarf style! I’m considering trying something like this : Local Area Heavy Miner With Fighter Support
- Imperial Clipper – I know these are popular and look like great miners, much cheaper than a Python too.
- Anaconda – Needless to say, could be the ultimate miner.. am saving up… slowly!
- Federal Corvette – Don’t know if people in Corvettes go mining, but this ship would certainly be in the top tier and would probably be able to hang onto their load!
- Imperial Cutter – Again, don’t know if I’ll ever find out, but could probably pick up the asteroids whole!
- Refinery – You can of course get by with any number of bins, the best being 10 on the 4A refinery. Having ample bins helps minimise the inevitable effort of having to clear/vent ore during mining and also allows you to leave more partially full bins between trips e.g. for very precious ores like painite and diamonds, shame to vent them. Worth upgrading as you get more cash.
- Collectors – The overall number of collectors is somewhat a matter of feel, but I always go for the A rated ones.
- Prospector – I typically only use a 1A prospector in favour of more collectors and cargo. I have tried a 3A prospector (2 limpets can be used at once allowing switching between them), which can help when you need to be very selective about what you’re after, but I didn’t find it overly useful.
- Top-end Distributor – A good weapons capacitor really helps keep the lasers burning.
- Shield – not just for defence when running away, but its also very easy to hit asteroids potentially causing critical hull damage without a shield. Essential for full-on RES mining since combat is very likely within 20Km.
- Good thrusters – Apart from better agility around the asteroids, running from pirates is often a regular part of mining and having extra speed can be the difference between life or death when mass-locked by asteroids!
Engineering for Miners:
- Reinforced Shield Generator – Having a good engineered shield (and shield boosters) is obviously useful from a defensive point of view.
- Charge Enhanced Distributor – I find this nice for most things, but also good for keeping your mining laser burning.
- Dirty Drives – Help you boost away from the mass lock and out run pirates during interdictions.
- Long Range Scanner – See pirates as early as possible.
- Heavy Duty Armour – More of a nice to have, but when applied to light weight alloy armour this adds no weight and may help spare you.
TBC List engineering upgrades that enhance mining experience ….
Where to mine?
Short answer? Pristine metallic planetary rings! – You can locate these quickly using sites like:
- http://edtools.ddns.net/index.php – I used this, think it’s the source for the above!
- https://eddb.io/body – Think I would use this if I looked again now – in filters select
- Ring Type : Metallic
- System Reserve : Pristine
- Reference System : The system you are in (to find nearest places)
Of course you can also find places exploring, many places are unpopulated i.e. no station, see Mining pristine rings in an unpopulated anarchy.
In either approach it’s worth picking a place with either immediate or near proximity to a suitable place to sell your proceeds.
Rings and Belts
There are two main types of places to mine, although I expect most miners usually mine rings.
- An abundance of asteroids, you wont run out!
Good to try to wander in one direction e.g. towards the planet, to avoid prospecting asteroids you’ve already mined!
You have the choice to mine near a RES – balance of risk vs reward, possible higher gains vs pirate threat.
- Ring asteroids turn, belt ones don’t – can be easier to select only the slow/still ones, but you have to fly around a bit. The smaller asteroids nearer the edge can also be nice.
- If you need to drop into planetary rings away from RES sites, approach the ring, then when you start to see the asteroids taking shape, make sure you limit your speed to avoid any hull damage dropping out of supercruise – I fly <100Km/s on the final approach.
- Once you pick an asteroid that you want to mine, getting close (<300m) seems to greatly speed up fragmentation and collector speed – be careful with faster turning asteroids though, limpets seem to get creamed easily, nicer with slower ones.
- The limiting factor here is the relatively small quantity of asteroids compared to rings, some systems may have 2 belts, others I seen have 5 and each belt might have around 7-9 asteroids to mine.
- Generally peaceful, seems to be police patrols, the occasional other miner, 1 time out of 5 I was attacked by pirates.
- Due to the sparse population of asteroids, collisions aren’t really a problem, but remember which asteroids you have already mined to avoid wasting time (unlike rings where there are so many you can just find another)
- Don’t automatically write belts off – as an example, with a smallish ship, say 80t of space, if the reserve is Major Metallic, you should be able to mostly fill your hold with good metals by visiting 2 belts. Larger ships may not find enough asteroids to make them worthwhile sites for mining, especially if there are only a low number of belts, say 2, maybe pristine belts would stretch further.
- Asteroids in belts don’t turn – this is actually quite nice, as the fast turning asteroids in rings can smash your limpets and damage your ship!
Types Of Asteroid
Due to the relative of the values of the metals/minerals that occur only in each types, the order of preference definitely feels like:
- Metallic – Very nice stuff in general, feels rewarding.
- Metal Rich – Still some nice stuff, some overlap with metallic e.g. Osmium which can be a profitable mission target.
- Icy – Missions can compensate for lower values, plus possibilities of low temp diamonds, probably above Metal Rich if these bonus factors are used or found.
- Rocky – Never tried, due to the relatively low values associated (think the top value rocky ores may be Indite/Gallite/Coltan ~ 1/2K per ton bracket). May be worth it in conjunction with the right missions.
Types of Reserve
These are the only types of reserves that I have tried. Having tried Common, I wouldn’t recommend Low or Depleted reserves!
- Have tried it to complete missions, was slow going, from memory max concentrations ~15%, often lower.
- Whilst possible, it is definitely labour intensive to make money at this level of reserves, you’ll have to crack a lot of rocks to get a decent haul!
- Much more doable than common reserves, some pretty good concentrations, have seen 35%.
- Noticeably less high value types than pristine, things like Panite seem much rarer in Metallic areas.
- Much higher incidence of most valuable metals, like Platinum, Panite.
Much nicer concentrations of whatever was contained e.g. have seen up to 47%, or nice mixes e.g. 30% Gold / 20% Platinum.
A definite step up from Major reserves, mining feels quicker and more bountiful.
Not every stone is a good one, but compared to common reserves, and even major ones. Once you try this level I’m not sure you’ll try any other!
Mining in a Resource Extraction Site (RES)
Why would you do this? Fun, risk, reward… see here for more details (table of stats relating to gain in asteroid yield):
It doesn’t have to mean combat is inevitable, but I wouldn’t recommend doing this if you’re a beginner or just want to mine with the minimum of hassle. If you’re unsure, probably run a few test prospecting expeditions, maybe in a quick and/or combat ready ship to lessen your risk of getting caught out by pirates.
- When in a RES for generally safe and profitable mining, try to keep between 16km and 20km from the RES beacon.
- Inside 16km you will probably start to attract sporadic attention.
- Right in the centre, say within 10km of the RES beacon, you can expect frequent pirate approaches. This can be fun in the right ship and can add bounty claims to your haul, but is obviously risky and often frustrating if you find a nice rock and get interrupted!
- In Low/Normal/High RES sites the police can of course help you, especially near the centre, but don’t rely on them saving you in time without you doing most of the fighting or running first.
What To Mine
TBC Need to work on this section…
- Missions can seriously boost profits and should be taken when possible.
- Certain materials seem far more common as mission targets e.g. Osmium, Methanol Monohydrate Crystals, Bromelite.
- In my home system I am allied with a couple of factions and this definitely seems to up the typical mission rewards considerably. If you discover a favourite mining system, then its probably worth going out of your way to build up reputation with factions at your favourite place to sell.
- Osmium seems to be a great example, sometimes aroound 1.5Mill+ for 20t, there are probably even better ones.
- Samarium and Praseodymium are less common, but very nice, slightly easier to find mission targets too.
- After you return, it’s often worth holding onto stuff that features in typical mining missions rather than selling it on the commodities market. For example, say you pick up a mission for 12t of Osmium, but end up mining 20t, its often worth holding onto the spare Osmium and waiting for a new mission to present itself that can be completed instantly.
Mine with me?
Maybe you’re happy mining on your own in the peace and tranquility that it can bring… Otherwise, if you’re online when I am and maybe need some support, feel free to add me (CMDR Rupo) and we might be able to team up from time to time. Fly safe!