Mining is the number-one way to make money in Elite Dangerous. There is no other activity that comes close to the potential profits of a long mining session, so buckle up, get your mining lasers ready, and start blasting those asteroids.
If only it was that simple. Mining, like pretty much everything else in Elite Dangerous, is a bit complicated for the uninformed. Elite Dangerous only does an okay job at telling you how to do anything, so we’ve prepared this easy mining guide to help you get started on your intergalactic mining empire.
Which Ship Do You Need To Go Mining?
To go mining in Elite Dangerous, there are a few things you need to have on your ship: at least one Class 2 hardpoint (these are the points you attach things to on your ship) for the mining tools, and enough slots for other crucial mining features, like the Refinery, Limpet Controller, a Detailed Surface Scanner, and a Cargo Rack. If that’s all a bit much to take in at once, fair enough. Here are the ship names that we recommend for the three stages of mining: early, middle and late-game.
Brand new miners will likely want to check out the Cobra Mark 3. This shop costs less than 400 thousand credits and has the required hardpoints, storage space, and maneuverability to work well as a fledgling asteroid miner.
As you earn more money, you can think about upgrading into a medium-sized ship, something like the Python. It has pretty good storage space and is large enough to carry everything you need for a successful mining expedition. The Python also handles smoothly and can take a few shots from pirates.
Once you’ve established yourself as a professional miner and got the rewards to show it, you will be able to reach the apex of Elite Dangerous mining: the Imperial Cutter. The ship is fast, has lots of storage, and is durable enough to survive pirate attacks.
Getting Set Up For A Mining Trip
Your choice of ship is only the first part of a mining expedition. First, choose a direction to head in, any way will do because Elite Dangerous is all about adventure. Now you need to kit it out with 5 crucial installations:
- Cargo Rack: where else are you gonna put all that space loot?
- Refinery: you need to process the ore otherwise it’s worthless
- Mining laser: this one is self-explanatory, we hope
- Collector limpet: this basically sucks up all the ore and makes it easier to fill your ship’s pockets
- Detailed Surface Scanner: this will help you to identify minerals hotspots
This is just for the basic asteroid mining, but Elite Dangerous gets a lot more complicated than that. For Deep Core Mining you need a Seismic Charge Launcher, for Surface Mining you should always attach an Abrasion Blaster, and you should probably carry as many prospecting limpets as you can, regardless. We did say it was complicated.
So How Do You Actually Mine?
For the purposes of this guide, let’s say you’re just getting started. You likely have a basic ship with a basic Mining Laser, and maybe one or two of the other attachments as well. The mining process works like this:
- Probing: scanning nearby rocks in an asteroid field for minerals
- Fragmenting: blasting apart the rock with your mining laser
- Collecting: sucking all the ore into your ship
- Refining: refining the collected ore on your ship
- Selling: fairly obvious, selling the refined ore for a profit.
And repeat. Over and over again.
During the probing session, your Detailed Surface Scanner will highlight ring systems to find areas where there are lots of minerals. The Pulse Wave Analyser will highlight asteroids with minerals inside, and also where the minerals are, which you can then blast apart with a Seismic Charge Launcher.
Fragmentation is done by firing your mining laser, which is bound to your controls like a ship’s weaponry. You want to be close, but not too close, and fire away at asteroids with minerals inside. This might take some time, as different rocks have different durability, and some mining lasers are weaker than others.
Collecting involves scooping up the ore like pick and mix or using the collector limpets that we mentioned earlier. Fly in a slow circle around the debris field of the exploded rock and fire out your limpets (if you have them) or try to path your ship’s cargo scoop over the floating ore.
Now it’s time to refine and sell your ore. Minerals are automatically deposited into your ship’s refiner and you can refine them onboard. After that, head to a system where you want to sell your ores. Remember, there is a living, thriving market in Elite Dangerous that is impacted by player sales: try and find a system where your ore is selling for a good price. This might take a bit of investigation but is worth it for all your hard work.
Know Which Minerals Are Which
A lump of Indite is not worth as much as a pile of Void Opals, and a handful of Low-Temperature Diamonds are worth a lot more than Gallite. These are the sorts of details that you will learn over time. Elite Dangerous is a simulator in every sense of the word.
You don’t just mine and sell whatever you find to your nearest space station. A good miner will monitor the market, see what’s selling for the most, and then structure their next mining expedition around that mineral.
You’re Not The Only One Who Wants Shiny Space Rocks
Mining expeditions are not necessarily going to be peaceful. Pirates linger in the shadows of asteroid belts and scan unsuspecting miner ships. If the scan shows the miner ship has anything on it other than the base limpets, then they will attack. You can either run or fight. Either is fine.
If you have one of the larger ships, such as the Imperial Cutter, you probably have some weapons on board. If not, you can try to escape the pirates, later sending out a crime report if you manage to reach a Resource Extraction Site, which is often patrolled by some form of security.
NEXT: Elite Dangerous Players Are Running A Gulag, Using Trapped Newbies To Farm Resources
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Harry Alston is a writer based in the UK. He was once number one in the world on Call of Duty: Black Ops and now spends his days chasing that past glory.
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