In heavily populated systems, the asteroid belts are usually heavily mined. The tiny amounts of ore in the daily respawns can make it difficult to leave your computer AFK, as you'll have to switch asteroids frequently. A popular solution is to spawn your own personal asteroid belt with the use of EVE's mission system. When designing missions, CCP's content team created some nice scenes using stellar gas, building structures and asteroids. As a result, several missions contain large quantities of ore that can be mined once the mission is cleared.
EVE-Survival maintains a list of the best missions for mining, showing that quite a few missions contain millions of units of Veldspar and a sizeable quantity of Scordite. Others have around half a million units of Pyroxeres or Plagioclaise or several hundred thousand units of Omber and Kernite. It's even rumoured that the "Artifact Recovery" level 2 combat mission can occasionally spawn a rare and valuable Arkonor asteroid. The mission should be cleared of NPCs before mining begins, and NPCs of the same types found in the system's normal asteroid belt can spawn while you're mining. As long as the mission's objectives are not all completed, the entire mission will respawn each day during downtime. This can be used to replenish the supply of ore every day for about a week.
Not every system in EVE has a station to dock at, making it a little more difficult to run mining operations there. Due to the lack of competition for ore, prime mining spots can often be found in quiet, stationless systems far from any well-travelled routes. The best way to take advantage of these systems is to use a starbase as a base of operations. A small starbase costs very little to purchase and run, and it can be converted into an ore depot by installing several Corporate Hangar Arrays. Each array can store 1,400,000 m3 of ore, which will take a max-skilled Hulk pilot around 10 hours to fill. This can be emptied with a freighter in two runs, making it a very efficient storage solution.
To place a starbase in high-security space requires high corporate standings with the local faction. As most corporations have members with varied standings, the most practical way to set up a starbase in high-security space is to start a new corporation using a character with the required standings. Since you only need the standings to initially anchor the starbase, several players offer a service by which they create new starbase corps for a small price.
In addition to having massive fields of largely untapped low-end asteroids, low-security space has additional ore types like Jaspet and Hemorphite. Due to recent changes in mineral prices, some of these lowsec-only ores are actually worth more than highsec ores again. A mining corp may want to set up an ore depot in low-security space to take advantage of the increased profit and lack of competition. Mining here is slightly different as there's an added danger of piracy, which makes it infeasible to mine idly in the background. Pilots are advised to mine in a system that's generally empty and rarely travelled and to keep an eye on the local channel for pilots entering the system.
In the event that another player enters the system, miners should warp immediately to the starbase and hide inside its shield. If you were mining into a jettison container, you may also want to pick another location to mine before returning to the asteroid belt, as the pirate may have bookmarked your location or logged off there to set up a log-on trap. The most difficult part of operating in low-security space is collecting the ore from the depot, a job that cries out to be done by a jump freighter. Ore can be jumped to a system one jump from high-security space while there are no pirates around and easily moved to a refinery or trade hub.
Wormhole mining expeditions
When the Apocrypha expansion hit, mining recieved a huge boost with the introduction of hidden asteroid belts inside wormhole systems. These show up as gravimetric signatures on probe-scans of wormhole systems. Wormhole gravimetric belts contain massive asteroids of all types, with even the most common sites holding several thousand units of Arkonor, Bistot and Crokite. The NPCs that spawn here are easily tackled in a battleship, but as of a recent patch they now respawn periodically the same way that NPCs spawn in traditional asteroid belts. Warping to a site will activate it, causing Sleeper NPCs to spawn within 20 minutes. The sites last for three days after they are first warped to, even if the ore in them isn't mined. To preserve your sites, bookmark them from the probe-scanning interface once you get a 100% lock, and only use them one at a time.
Once the sites in a system are completed, it is not guaranteed that new ones will spawn. For this reason, you should select a system that already has several sites present. Entry points to empire space will be sporadic, and very few will be big enough to fit a freighter through. The two best ways to get your ore back to empire for sale are to compress the ore with a Rorqual or refine it at the starbase. Getting a Rorqual into a wormhole can be difficult, and building one inside is a big commitment as it may not be possible to get it out once the gravimetric sites are depleted. Refining the ore at the starbase can be a good move, but even the best starbase refinery will match the yield of an NPC station in empire. It's advised that you use an intensive refinery array, which requires 4,000 CPU and therefore requires that you use a large starbase. This refinery can only process 200,000 m3 of ore every three hours, meaning you may need to install several of them on separate starbases in order to handle the load produced by a group of miners.
I have to admit that I'm usually part of that majority of players who rarely pick up a mining laser. When I do sit down in a hulk to hoover up some asteroids, however, I find it strangely enjoyable. Mining with a group of players can be a great bonding experience, whether it's part of a well-planned wormhole mining expedition or just in an impromptu high-security fleet. This ends EVE Evolved's three-part guide to mining in EVE Online. I hope you've found it informative and that it's given you a few ideas or helped you set some goals.
Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at Massively. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you have an idea for a column or guide, or you just want to message him, send an email to email@example.com.