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Miners extract metals, minerals, and other resources from asteroids and sell them for profit. Mining involves traveling to sites such as pristine planetary rings, identifying resource-rich asteroids, and using specialized Hardpoint modules to extract and collect their resources.

To mine, pilots require three optional internal modules: a Refinery to refine collected resources into Commodities for sale, one or more Cargo Racks to carry the refined Commodities, and one or more Mining Lasers, Abrasion Blasters, Sub-surface Displacement Missiles, or Seismic Charge Launchers. The Detailed Surface Scanner, Prospector Limpet, and Pulse Wave Analyser can also be equipped to more easily locate ideal mining sites and valuable asteroids, and the Collector Limpet can be used to more efficiently gather raw resources. Miners who choose to delve inhabited systems rather than uncharted ones can purchase system data from Universal Cartographics or scan a Navigation Beacon in order to determine the quality of a system's asteroid clusters or planetary rings.

Some miners prefer small, nimble ships for mining, as they are better at maneuvering around asteroids, in tight asteroid belts and rings at higher velocities. However others prefer larger ships such as the Python, Imperial Clipper, Federal Corvette, Imperial Cutter and the Anaconda, which are not as maneuverable, but can equip all the beneficial Limpet Controllers and carry a large number of limpets for their use, while still having room for cargo and shields, increasing efficiency. Additionally, the larger ships are better at defending themselves from pirates while mining, though such threats can generally be avoided in the uncharted systems beyond human habitation centers.

Ships

An ideal mining ship requires at least one Class 2 hardpoint to fit larger mining tools for more efficient or profitable mining, and enough optional internal slots to hold a Refinery, a Collector Limpet Controller, a Prospector Limpet Controller, a Detailed Surface Scanner, and at least one Cargo Rack. Mobility is also an important factor, due to needing to find more specific asteroids, and aiming certain mining tools. At least 4 hardpoints, with one medium, are required to hold one of every mining tool. A Fighter Hangar is also recommended, as it lets a ship defend against pirates while its hardpoints are replaced with mining tools.

  • A great choice for new miners is the Cobra MkIII, due to the size of its cargo hold, internal compartments, and its maneuverability. It can also fit the Class 2 mining tools.
  • The Adder is the earliest ship capable of efficient mining, as it can equip three mining lasers, as well as being the earliest deep core mining ship as it has one Class 2 hardpoint. It has decent capacity but won't be able to defend itself.
  • The Keelback can equip multiple lasers and has a half-decent capacity, and can use a fighter hanger for self-defense. It also has the required 4 hardpoints for every mining tool.
  • The Asp Explorer is an excellent stepping stone between the small and medium ship sizes, and is a capable and highly profitable deep core mining ship.
  • The Krait MkII and Krait Phantom are more expensive medium options for mining, but can comfortably fit all necessary mining tools and modules. The larger MkII can also hold a fighter bay for added protection, while the Phantom is capable of outrunning any NPC, making them both a safe choice.
  • The Python is medium ship with internal space to spare, allowing it to carry larger modules and a greater amount of cargo. It can also equip every tool as a class 2 hardpoint. Combined with its durability and relative agility for its size class, it is an ideal mining ship.
  • The Type-9 Heavy was formerly one the best ships in the role, due to its huge cargo and internal size as well as its fighter bay and low price. However, the Beyond changes made it much less useful as its sluggish speed makes avoiding asteroid fragments difficult and its low mobility makes aiming mining tools frustrating. It also lacks the hardpoints to be as efficient as other options.
  • The Type-10 Defender is also a viable ship, though it lacks maneuverability. It makes for a good Painite laser miner, as it has a large Power Distributor and a huge complement of hardpoints.
  • The Anaconda, Imperial Cutter, and Federal Corvette all work perfectly. The Corvette in particular has both good mobility and high cargo capacity.

Equipment

  • Mining Laser
    • Required to extract the ore fragments from an asteroid.
    • Higher class lasers may extract ore fragments faster.
    • Multiple lasers may also be equipped but will draw more power in total, and will also mean you have fewer hardpoints to defend yourself as they are incredibly inefficient at dealing damage and have the lowest range in the game.
    • The Mining Lance offers far greater range and is capable of dealing 8 DPS, instead of 2, only slightly less than the 1E Beam Laser. The downsides are the higher power draw and the huge amount of thermal load generated.
  • Refinery
    • Required to process the collected ore.
    • Better refineries have up to ten bins to process several types of ore simultaneously.
  • Collector Limpet
    • Automated collection massively improves profit per hour by collecting fragments automatically.
    • Limpets have a set lifetime and will automatically collect items with no user input required.
    • Limpets need to be individually purchased at munition store (in the advanced maintenance tab) for 101 credit each limpet and will occupy your cargo rack (1T for each limpet).
    • The number of collector limpet modules on each ship is not limited to one, and installing more than one limpet module increases the max number of active limpet at a time, thus increasing collection efficiency. If you have space to install 2 class 5 collector limpet modules, for instance, you may have 6 collector limpets active simultaneously.
  • Prospector Limpet
    • Prospecting allows miners to view the mineral content of an asteroid even from a distance.
    • Prospecting asteroids before mining results in double yield.
    • These require limpets to work (Purchase limpets at any restock service). They are stored in your cargo holds.
    • Generally, any size will do, even class 2 or 3. You won't need more than 2 or so active at once.
    • In the new Analysis Mode, if a Commander fires a Prospecting Limpet at an asteroid, you will be able to see the highlighted location of all the deposits on it, making it easy for you to target and exploit those specific areas.
  • Detailed Surface Scanner
    • Aside from mapping the surfaces of planets, the Detailed Surface Scanner can also be used to identify mineral hotspots within planetary rings. Commanders can fire probes into the rings, which will then clearly display the areas worth investigating on your screen.[1]
  • Pulse Wave Analyser
    • Upon arrival within a ring, firing this module will send out a pulse of energy that will highlight any asteroids that have lucrative deposits on them.[1]
  • Abrasion Blaster
    • A new hardpoint module with which Commanders can shoot at Surface Deposits, breaking them off for collection. Whether you do it manually, using the cargo scoop, or with limpets, you'll be able to collect the resources at your leisure.[1]
  • Sub-surface Displacement Missile
    • This new hardpoint module is used for harvesting Sub-surface Deposits. Described as a 'drill on the end of a missile', this digs in to the rock at the point of impact. The cockpit interface will then show the displacement missile travelling through the rock. Holding down the trigger and releasing at a the optimal time displayed by the interface will allow you to recover valuable sub-surface minerals.[1]
    • Class 1 of this tool has extremely limited ammo, and it is recommended to use a Class 2 version if possible.
    • Requires a fair amount of accuracy, so should be mounted on the most central placed hardpoint, if possible.
  • Seismic Charge Launcher
    • Certain asteroids, as identified by the Fissures discovered on their surface, can be completely broken apart to reveal a treasure trove of resources. Commanders will place Seismic Charges within the Fissures at a particular charge level.[1]
    • The cockpit interface will give you an idea of how much destructive power the charges will hold, and Commanders will have to be careful to not go too far above or below that threshold, at the risk of losing valuable materials.[1]
    • A countdown for all the charges will display on screen, so Commanders are limited on the amount of time they have to set up the perfect controlled explosion.[1]
    • The charges can be disarmed in the Contacts panel, however, this takes 10 seconds, and the Fissure will become unusable.
    • These charges can also be detonated sooner by the Commander if desired.[1]
    • Only available as a Class 2 hardpoint.

Locations

Mining is currently possible at asteroid belts or planetary rings (including icy as of 2.1/1.6), although it is the most profitable in a Pristine Metallic area. They can be targeted and flown to in supercruise, just like any destination within a system. Marked extraction sites can only be seen at ranges of 1kls or closer. Asteroids in planetary rings can also be mined from - RES are common places for NPC miners to congregate in, but pirates will also spawn here.

Mining is not limited to extraction sites, which is much safer since there is virtually no NPCs spawning outside them. Flying at any part of a ring system at less than 1Mm/s will result in a safe drop approximately 7km away from the ring. It is important, however, to identify the metallic rings before attempting this. When you have arrived, you will see a number (from a handful to many dozens) of asteroids, which you can then mine. A good starting spot for mining are systems with industrial economies.

Mining Locations change in both quality and quantity which when presented one through five, one being the highest and five being the lowest are currently;

  1. Pristine
  2. Major
  3. Common
  4. Low
  5. Depleted

This information can be found in the system map by targeting either the belt cluster or planet of interest. Planetary rings are labeled from inner to outer with descending letters starting from A.

Locations of planets with pristine metallic rings can be found via the Pristine Metallics Distances Calculator.

Guide to Mining

Mining duo

Mining involves five processes:

  1. Probing
  2. Fragmenting
  3. Collecting
  4. Refining
  5. Selling

It is important to note that the first four processes can overlap during a mining session, and must be carefully managed in order to maximize efficiency and profit.

Probing

Asteroid probe

Elite Dangerous: Beyond Chapter Four (3.3) introduced new aspects to mining: using new tools and exploration mechanics, miners can investigate rings to locate the best spots to start their mining sessions, and then the best specific asteroids to probe and excavate for rewards.

Seismic Charges

Python mining asteroid explosion

Currently there's one type of asteroid with a distinct shape and size that can be detonated. It's a medium sized rock, roundish "teardrop" in shape -or a pointy edge on one side and a fat bottom on the other. With the Pulse Wave Analyser it should always show a bright, brilliant yellow glow even as you approach it. There are fissures on the surface. Use the Seismic Charge Launcher to place Seismic Charges within the fissures. Then explode it to reveal valuable minerals.

Fragmenting

Make sure to bind a Mining Laser (preferably in its own firing group) just like you would do with any other weapon in the game. Fly within range (being 500 m) of the asteroid and blast away with the Mining Laser. You have to hold down the trigger for a while (depending on the quality of Mining Laser you have bought) before a fragment chips off.

Select the fragment of rock as a target. They are quite small and hard to detect visually but do show up as white contacts on your radar. When selected, you get details of the contents of the fragment, e.g. Bauxite (9.7%) Coltan (21.2%). Note that the mineral name which shows up first in the HUD doesn't necessarily represent the most valuable mineral! The mineral content is how much of a ton of cargo can be extracted from the fragment. E.g. if you scoop and process three 35% Indite shards you end up with 1 ton of Indite. Fragments range in mineral content from ~5% to ~65%. Asteroids contain 1 to 3 different minerals while fragments from the asteroids contain up to 2 of those minerals.

Collecting

Asp collects asteroid minerals

Collecting fragments can be done with a cargo scoop or a collector limpet drone.

To collect with a cargo scoop, first, engage your scoop (just like you would with your landing gear or hardpoints), then fly slowly towards the target. Upon engaging the Cargo Scoop you will find that a blue box will have appeared on the lower left of your HUD. On there you should, if pointing at the rock, see an icon in the cross-hairs (the box). Continue to fly slowly towards the rock while holding the rock in the middle of the cargo scoop's cross-hairs until you have successfully acquired it.

Asteroid fragments are more difficult to scoop than regular cargo, as their movement is more complex (not to mention the fact that you want to avoid hitting an asteroid while you're focused on scooping!) For this reason, it's advisable to use very slow speeds of 15 m/s while scooping. Furthermore, fragments will "decay" over time, meaning they slowly lose integrity until they disappear, so do not mine more than you can collect!

To collect with a collector limpet controller you must purchase limpets ahead of time in any munitions store (the place you buy your ammo). Collector limpets have 2 modes: quick single-collection and autonomous area-collection. For mining, the area-collection mode is optimal. Limpets must bound to a fire group like a weapon.

To activate a limpet in area mode, be sure that no cargo or fragment is targeted. This is important as activating a limpet with a collectible item targeted will activate the limpet in single-collection mode. Once in area mode, the limpet will automatically collect any fragments a specific distance from you based on the class and rating of the controller. While this happens you can continue with other actions such as fragmenting, refining, and monitoring your surroundings. Use collector drones with caution near spinning asteroids, since their basic AI doesn't account for the movement of the asteroid. You can equip multiple collector drone limpet controls assuming you have enough internal compartments.

Refining

Diamondback mining

Once a fragment enters your cargo hold, it will be deposited in the refinery. It can be accessed on the right panel under cargo tab, then there is a refinery tab on the left column. The first bin is the depositing bin, where you will find your fragment. New minerals will attempt to drop into the refinery bins below. Depending on class your refinery will have between 1 and 10 of these bins.

Items that appear in the depositing bin will automatically "stack" into the refinery bins below if a refinery bin that already contains that mineral exists. It will also drop into empty bins automatically. If no bin is available, you will have to vent your refinery (see next paragraph). This will happen until the bin reaches 100% at which point it will be emptied, the leftover mineral will remain in the depositing bin, and 1 ton of cargo (one unit of whatever mineral you have collected) appears in your cargo hold. Once your cargo hold is full, you can return to a station and sell your goods.

You also have the option to "vent" the contents of your refinery. This is useful if you have a nearly-full refinery of bauxite and you find an asteroid with gold (or whatever else you prioritize). When no bin is available, minerals will not leave the depositing bin and will block it from accepting new fragments. When this happens you must either vent a refinery bin to free up space or vent the mineral from the depositing bin. NOTE: Doing this will destroy the mineral and you will not be able to recover it.

Selling

The value of a mineral is scaled to the supply/demand meaning that selling minerals where there are many other players selling the same mineral will result in a smaller profit per ton as demand for that item is low with so many suppliers. Systems that are both refinery economies and have an asteroid field will tend to give you a lower price compared to what you would get if you were to travel somewhere more distant to the source (source being asteroid fields). Also, checking the bulletin board is very important, since mining mission rewards can reach hundreds of thousands of credits. The most sought-after minerals in missions are painite, osmium and platinum.

Accepting Mining contracts at the Mission Board yields much more money for the mined commodities.

Styx is an excellent example of where we see a massive drop in prices. It has both mining equipment for sale, is very close to the spawn point for new players, has mineable asteroid fields and is a refinery economy (means it will have a constant demand for minerals to refine), it is therefore going to be very popular to sell minerals there which is going to lead to a price drop due to a saturated market.

Keep in mind that carrying valuable resources around attracts pirates and other players may also try to rob you. With mining lasers attached you will be less effective at defending yourself so don't lug rare metals around too long.

Resource Availability and Values

Commodities

This is a table displaying the approximate market prices for mined minerals, metals, and chemicals. Most high value minerals, including Void Opals and Alexandrite, are gemstones that can only be obtained via core mining, while some such as Painite and Low Temperature Diamonds can be mined with lasers. Market prices for mined commodities vary depending on the economy type of a station and its level of demand for a specific good.

Note that this table is updated infrequently, and it is strongly recommended to check third-party tools such as eddb.io or inara.cz for the latest prices.

Minerals Galactic Average Price (CR/T) Available in Ring Type
Void Opals 135,284 Icy
Low Temperature Diamonds 106,353 Icy
Alexandrite 217,277 Metal Rich, Icy, Rocky
Grandidierite 197,292 Metal Rich, Icy
Musgravite 198,613 Rocky
Monazite 200,975 Metal Rich, Rocky
Serendibite 172,711 Metal Rich, Rocky
Rhodplumsite 176,839 Metal Rich
Benitoite 149,395 Metal Rich, Rocky
Painite 53,016 Metallic, Metal Rich
Bromellite 30,424 Icy
Lithium Hydroxide 5,673 Icy
Bertrandite 18,817 Metallic, Metal Rich
Methanol Monohydrate Crystals 2,478 Icy
Indite 11,389 Metallic, Metal Rich, Rocky
Gallite 11,915 Metallic, Metal Rich, Rocky
Coltan 6,163 Metal Rich, Rocky
Uraninite 2,957 Metal Rich, Rocky
Methane Clathrate 1,650 Icy
Lepidolite 771 Metal Rich, Rocky
Rutile 2,083 Rocky
Bauxite 1,140 Rocky
Metals Galactic Average Price (CR/T) Available in Ring Type
Platinum 58,263 Metallic
Palladium 50,639 Metallic
Thorium 11,317 Metallic
Gold 47,610 Metallic, Metal Rich
Osmium 45,198 Metallic, Metal Rich
Praseodymium 8,620 Metallic, Metal Rich
Samarium 25,852 Metallic, Metal Rich
Silver 37,223 Metallic, Metal Rich
Cobalt 3,762 Rocky
Chemicals Galactic Average Price (CR/T) Available in Ring Type
Tritium 36,825 Icy
Hydrogen Peroxide 3,160 Icy
Liquid Oxygen 1,474 Icy
Water 278 Icy

Materials

This is a rough guide to which materials are available to mine. Materials cannot be sold for credits, but are used by Engineers and Technology Brokers and can be exchanged for powerful modifications and modules.

Elements
Class I Class II Class III Class IV
Carbon Chromium Arsenic Cadmium
Iron Germanium Niobium Mercury
Lead Manganese Selenium Molybdenum
Nickel Vanadium Tungsten Tin
Phosphorus Zinc Zirconium Boron
Rhenium
Sulphur

Pirates and other miners

Miners are a popular target for piracy, and pirates can often be found lurking around planetary rings in inhabited systems, where they will attempt to scan any ship that arrives in their vicinity. If a scanned ship is carrying anything other than limpets, they will attack and try to seize its cargo. The danger posed by pirates can be prepared for in the following ways:

  • Miners can, if their ship has the capacity, bring along weapons and simply destroy the attackers, earning a bounty voucher in the process. Obviously, this reduces a ship's cargo space and therefore the time it can devote to a single mining session before it must leave and sell its cargo.
  • Jumping to supercruise or hyperspace can escape pirates if they cannot be defeated or eluded, but this means losing time to spend on mining. Also note that planetary rings exert mass lock, preventing jumps until a ship has cleared them. Asteroid belt clusters are smaller and do not exert mass lock, but are far less lucrative to mine.
  • Resource Extraction Sites in inhabited systems controlled by non-anarchy minor factions will usually be patrolled by security forces that will help defend miners and engage any wanted ships they detect. Ensure "Report crimes committed against me" in the right HUD panel is toggled on to enable a swift security response.
  • While any location in a planetary ring can be mined, there is 25-100% bonus, depending on threat level, in the amount of material that can be mined from an asteroid within a 20km radius of a RES site. Pilots can enter a RES site then fly out to its edge, where no other ships will be active, to safely mine and enjoy the bonus.
  • Any ship with a speed of over 450m/s will outrun all pirates except those with engineered ships, such as pirates encountered in Wing missions.
  • Ships equipped with a Fighter Hangar can use Ship-Launched Fighters for protection if their hardpoints are occupied by mining tools. Simply deploy a fighter upon arrival and use it or order a crewmember to defend yourself. This could make the Keelback a decent early option for an armed miner, but its low cargo space with a fighter bay may prove an issue.

Cooperative mining

Multiple ships or a Wing can cooperate to mine more efficiently by specializing each ship's loadout. For example, one pilot can fly a speedy, low-mass ship such as the Asp Scout equipped only with Seismic Charge Launcher, Abrasion Blasters, and prospector limpets while the second pilot can fly a larger ship such as the Anaconda with ample cargo space, collector limpets, and a Refinery.[2]

The miner ship should crack a suitable deep core asteroid, then use the Abrasion Blaster on any surface deposits. While the refinery ship collects and refines the ore, the miner ship can move on and locate another deep core asteroid with its prospector limpets. This process can be repeated until a ship runs out of cargo space, limpets, or ammunition. Cooperating pilots can then return to a station to split the cargo; take care to avoid jettisoning cargo for this purpose within a station's jurisdiction to avoid penalties for littering.[2]

Notes

  • Mining features were first added in the Beta 3 Update for Elite Dangerous, which was released on October 28, 2014.
  • Mining was greatly expanded with new features and modules by Elite Dangerous: Beyond Chapter Four (3.3), which was released on December 11, 2018.
  • Mining in Planetary Ring Systems is always more efficient than mining Asteroid Belt clusters because rings contain vastly more asteroids. Use the System Map to identify rings with "Pristine Reserves", which guarantee more plentiful results.
  • The material content (Low, Medium, High) does not affect the amount of metals, minerals or chemicals that the asteroid contains. Instead, focus on the concentration of a substance within the asteroid's fragments. If the fragments have a low concentration, near or below 15%, move on to another asteroid. Using Prospector Limpets can double the yield of asteroid fragments.
  • Even if cargo capacity is full, the Refinery can still be filled to 100% per slot. Upon selling a haul at a station, the full Refinery slots will complete processing and add additional units to the cargo hold, allowing the Refinery to be used as an overflow cargo space to a limited extent.
  • Asteroid fragments may drift and clip into other asteroids or chunks from a detonated asteroid, but Collector Limpets will still attempt to collect those fragments and will end up destroying themselves. If a player notices they are losing Collector Limpets with unusual frequency, this may be the cause, and the problematic fragment should be added to the exclusion list.
  • Activating Night Vision can be useful even when mining in bright areas. Night Vision allows asteroids and asteroid chunks to be seen through debris clouds caused by core mining and certain sections of rings.

Videos

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References

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