First, I'll quickly explain what mining is and how it works in EVE Online. To mine in EVE Online, you get a ship, fit it with some mining lasers or strip miners, then fly it out to an asteroid belt. Target an asteroid and activate your mining lasers and/or strip miners, and the ore will be moved from the asteroid into your cargo hold. Once you have the ore, you can take it to a station where you can sell it, or you can refine it into minerals (which are much more valuable than raw ore).
You sure can. The really powerful miners can make something like 10 million ISK an hour! But it can take a while of training up skills and buying better and better equipment to reach this level of money-making. This guide will tell you how to reach that level.
So, what stands between you and 10 million ISK per hour? Lots of things. The limitations of your ship, your skills, and your equipment can all reduce your mining potential. Here's a brief list of the main things to consider that are limiting your ability to make money with mining:
You want to be able to mine as much ore as you can in as short an amount of time as possible. There are various things limiting this, from your skills in mining and in piloting your mining ship to the types of mining lasers you are using. I'll explain how to overcome this in detail later on.
Mining lots of ore is all well and good, but if you have to make a ton of trips to get that ore from an asteroid belt to a station, you'll lose a lot of time, and as they say, time is money. You can fix this problem with an industrial ship, which is specifically designed to have a big cargohold, and you should work toward getting better and better industrial ships to reduce transport time as much as possible. There are even bigger ships than industrials that I'll touch on later in the guide.
Aside from improving your mining yield and cargo space, you will want to get into refining. You can take your mined ore to a reprocessing plant and refine it into minerals, such as tritanium, pyerite, nocxium, and so on. These minerals take up far less space than raw ore, and they are much more valuable.
But your refining output is limited by your skills, the quality of the reprocessing plant you use, and your standings with the NPC corporation that owns the reprocessing plant that you use. For this reason, you might want to just sell ore early on in your mining career while you build up your skills and standings, because you might lose so much of the minerals that it might not be worth it to refine it. I'll explain these things in more detail later on.
Just mining and refining your ore and then blindly selling it is not going to make you a lot of money! You really need to take a look at the market to see who's out there buying the kind of ore or minerals that you want to sell.
The Buyers section of the market view will show you all of the people buying in your region. Sort this so that the best price is at the top. If you can travel to that buyer's station with your ore or minerals, you will be getting the best price in your region. Better still, if you happen to be near some systems that are in other regions, you can hop on over there and make a note of the best buying price in those regions, and find the absolute best buying price in your area to make really big money.
So don't make the mistake of just clicking the Sell button no matter where you are, because you quite probably will get a really bad price for the things that you spent so much time and effort to mine!
There are certain skills that, as a miner, you will want to train up in order to maximize your mining abilities. Some of these skills are required for using the more advanced mining equipment available. Below I will quickly summarize the skills that you want to focus on as a miner, and what each skill is used for.
Mining is an industry skill that not only increases your mining yield by 25% for each level trained, but is also required for many different pieces of mining equipment, including one of the most important: mining lasers. Training the Mining skill to level five is a must for any miner. There are some types of mining lasers that you can't use unless you've trained Mining to a particular level, so don't neglect this skill!
The Astrogeology skill is a science skill that boosts your mining yield yet another 25% for each level trained. It also is required for some of the more advanced types of mining equipment on the market.
Astrogeology requires Science 4 and Mining 4, so be sure to take care of those first. You definitely want to train this skill if you want to reach your full potential as a miner.
The Mining Upgrades industry skill allows you to fit Mining Laser Upgrade modules to your mining ship. A Mining Laser Upgrade increases your mining yield, but carries a hefty CPU penalty, which means that you are unlikely to be able to fit a Mining Laser Upgrade to your ship if you haven't trained this skill. You also should train Electronics to a high level as soon as possible, to further counterbalance the CPU penalty from a Mining Laser Upgrade.
A deep core mining laser uses mining crystals that are calibrated for specific asteroid types. Deep core mining lasers are for more advanced miners, but are well worth the effort of training up to. This Deep Core Mining industry skill, in addition to allowing you to use deep core mining lasers, reduces the danger of explosions while mining Mercoxit, which is an ore found only in low-security systems and is therefore something that you should only tackle once you are more advanced. Deep core mining lasers can be used for other types of mining, though--not just Mercoxit--so it's a good idea to train this skill.
Mining drones, which help increase mining yield, make a great addition to any miner's tools of the trade. The Mining Drone Operation skill is a Drones skill that increases drone mining skill by 5% for each level. It requires the Drones skill trained to level 3.
The Drone Interfacing drones skill increases drone mining yield by 20% for every level trained, as well as increasing damage done by combat drones by the same amount per level.
The Refining industry skill reduces your refining waste by 2% per level trained. This is a good skill to train up because selling minerals is much more profitable than selling raw ore.
The Refinery Efficiency skill is an industry skill that reduces refinery waste by 4% per level trained. This is a good skill to train for the same reasons as mentioned above for the Refining skill.
When you are first starting out in EVE Online, you automatically start with the skill to be able to pilot the frigates of your character's race (so for example, Caldari frigates, Gallente frigates, etc.) For each race, there is a frigate that is specifically suited to mining. You can find out which one it is by looking at the descriptions for each ship. If the bottom of the description says that you get mining bonuses with that ship, then that is that race's mining frigate.
Now, you *could* just stick with the mining frigate of your chosen race, but the Caldari Bantam is widely considered to be the best of all races' mining frigates (so if your character is Caldari, you're in good shape!) To use the Bantam, you'll need to buy and train the Caldari frigate skill, but it really is worth it considering that the Caldari also make a great beginner industrial ship, which requires the Caldari Frigate skill to pilot. And overall, it's a great idea to buy and train all of the races' frigate skills, because that lays the foundation for you to be able to pilot almost any ship.
On a frigate, you can fit mining lasers. The quality of a mining laser will determine your mining yield. There are numerous mining lasers on the market, and the difference between them lies in their mining yields.
A mining laser takes 60 seconds to complete a mining cycle. This means that when you activate a mining laser on an asteroid, it will put the mined ore into your cargohold after 60 seconds. The amount that is mined depends on the mining laser that you use.
The Mining Laser II is the best mining laser on the market (not counting deep core miners, which will be discussed later.) It has the same cycle time as the other types of miners, but it has the highest yield of all mining lasers.
To use a Mining Laser II, you must have the Mining skill trained to at least level 4, so this laser type is not for beginners.
A deep core mining laser must be fitted with a mining crystal that is calibrated to a specific asteroid type. The mining crystal will eventually be destroyed after repeated use, but without it, the deep core mining laser has such a low yield as to be practically worthless.
But when a deep core miner is fit with the appropriate mining crystal for your needs, it gives you a significantly higher yield than the regular, non-crystal types of mining lasers.
Strip miners can only be fitted to mining barges and exhumers, so I will discuss them after discussing those ship types.
As I mentioned, cargo space is an important issue to consider when optimizing your mining operations. Industrial ships are out there, and even a beginner won't need long to train up the skills to pilot one. But before we get into that, I'll explain a popular mining technique that can make the most of your industrial's cargo capacity while also reducing trips.
Jetcan mining, short for jettison canister mining, is a popular technique among EVE Online miners. The way it works is to jettison the ore that is in your cargohold, which puts it into a floating cargo container with a capacity of 27,500m3 (much more than most cargoholds). Then, as your mining lasers/drones/etc. put more ore into your cargohold, you move it into the floating container. That way, you can keep on mining even if your ship's cargohold doesn't have room for all of the ore that an asteroid holds.
But won't other pilots try to steal your ore? Well, it does happen, but if you're doing jetcan mining in a high security system, then if someone did try to steal from your can, you are granted kill rights on anyone who steals from your cargo container, so you can retailiate for fifteen minutes after the crime is committed and destroy that person's ship (but not that person's pod, because that's always illegal). For those reasons, pilots stealing from other pilots' cargo containers does not happen all that often in high security systems.
At any rate, jetcan mining is great in conjunction with using an industrial ship, because your industrial's superior cargo space will allow you gather up most, if not all, of the ore that you just mined.
To max out your industrial ship's cargo space, there are a few steps you can take to increase your ship's capacity far above and beyond what it comes with.
First, for every level that you train in your ship's required industrial skill (for example, Amarr Industrial is required to pilot a Bestower), you get a 5% bonus to cargo capacity and maximum velocity. So be sure to train up your ship's skill to make the most of its cargo capacity.
Also, you will for sure want to fit Expanded Cargoholds to your industrial. They can be fitted to your ship's low slots. They are not rigs, so they are not destroyed when you remove them. These do exactly what it sounds like: they expand your cargohold, increasing its capacity. There are various types of expanded cargoholds on the market, including the Expanded Cargohold II, which, while expensive, is usually readily available and gives you a considerable capacity increase.
Then, you will want to get a hold of some Medium Cargohold Optimization rigs. These rigs can be added to your ship using up the upgrade hardpoints to permanently increase your cargo space. You can remove a rig from your ship, but the rig will be destroyed in the process, so keep that in mind.
Finally, you should make use of Giant Secure Containers, which are cargo containers that occupy 3,000m3 of space while having a capacity of 3,900m3. Don't ask me how they do that; I have no idea. But anyway, if you have as many GSCs as you can fit into your cargohold, you will get a nice bonus in capacity.
When considering which industrial ship to use, you need to consider the limitations of your skills, the cost, and the number of low slots the industrial ship has. That last one is important because of the modifications mentioned above. They will limit the absolute maximum cargo space that your ship can have.
Before discussing industrial ships, I should mention that the absolute best industrial ship in terms of cargo space is the Iteron Mark V. With all of the modifications listed above, it has by far the biggest capacity of all the industrials. However, it can only be piloted after you have trained Gallente Industrial to level V, which is going to take a lot of money and a lot of time. It's definitely not what you want to start out with.
The following industrial ships only require level 1 of their respective race's industrials skill to pilot:
Of these, the Bestower not only has the biggest cargohold, but it also has a superior potential for improvement. With its four low slots and three upgrade hardpoints, it is not only the most capable of the level 1 industrial ships, but it is also the best industrial all the way up to level three of training (which increases its cargo capacity even more). It even outmatches the Sigil, which can't surpass it in spite of its extra low slot. It just isn't even worthwhile to train up to the ships that require level two or level three to start piloting, because they don't match the Bestower's potential.
Once you hit level three of training on the Bestower, however, another ship comes along that surpasses it at level four: the Minmatar Mammoth. With 5625m3 of capacity and four low slots, the Mammoth has a cargohold to be reckoned with. It will still take you a long time to be able to pilot one, but it's definitely worth training up to once you've maxed out your Bestower.
But if you really want the best industrial of all, the Iteron Mark V is the level 5 industrial of choice. Its capacity far exceeds any other level five industrial on the market. Of course, once you reach the point of being able to use an Iteron Mark V, you might find that some of the more advanced cargo ships on the market are more appropriate for your needs (especially if you're doing a lot of mining in low-sec).
That's not to say that you MUST follow this sequence of industrials, of course. For example, it might be more cost-effective to get the Caldari Badger to start out with if you already have trained Caldari Frigate to be able to use a Bantam for mining. It's definitely not the best of the beginner industrials, but it's a reasonable compromise if you really can't afford or just don't want to go for a Bestower. The choice of which industrial you use is ultimately up to you. The following table has all of the industrial ships sorted first by level required, then by capacity, then low slots. It should help you choose the right industrial for your skill set.
|Ship||Capacity in m3||Level Required||Low Slots|
|Iteron Mark V||6000||5||5|
|Iteron Mark IV||5250||4||3|
|Badger Mark II||5250||3||3|
|Iteron Mark III||4875||3||3|
|Iteron Mark II||3750||2||2|
As you can see, if you want the best cargo capacity right from the start, the Bestower is the way to go. Once you're piloting your Bestower, you can start training up for the Mammoth. You could try to go straight to the Iteron Mark V, but really, training a skill to level 5 takes such a long time that you probably should aim for the Mammoth first.
You might be looking at the Hoarder and thinking that it would be worthwhile to just skip the Bestower and use that instead because of the greater cargo space, but actually, having fewer low slots for expanded cargoholds, the Hoarder is definitely inferior to the Bestower: even if you train the Hoarder to level 5, you can surpass its cargo capacity with a Level 1 Bestower using ship modifications.