Updated on May 22nd, 2021 by Harry Alston: Elite Dangerous: Odyssey is just around the corner, and to help out new players jumping into the world of Elite Dangerous for the first time, we’re updating our mining guide to cover some more of the essentials.
Elite Dangerous is a complex game, especially when it comes to collecting resources, selling them on, and running profitable mining expeditions that cover the overheads of operating expensive ships and mining gear. This updated guide will cover everything you need to know about mining, collecting valuable ores, and how to turn a profit.
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.
In the very early game, the Adder is the mining ship of choice. At a price of just under 90 thousand credits, it’s not too difficult to acquire and is one of the first ships that comes with a Class 2 Hardpoint. This lets you attach more sophisticated mining gear that in turn allows you to collect more valuable ore.
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.
Any mining ship in Elite Dangerous will need enough cargo space to carry the ore you mine up. You should use some of the largest slots in your ship for cargo while saving some room for limpets and a fuel scoop. It is possible to overlook limpets for extra cargo space, although you could be sat in an asteroid belt for hours while you wait for all the ore to be collected.
These are the utility tools that actually make mining possible. They come in different shapes and sizes, but generally for most mining missions you want at least two to three medium lasers equipped on your ship. This will largely depend on how much space you have on your ship, and whether you’ve opted for a large and unwieldy vessel or something smaller and more nimble.
The Refinery is essential on any mining ship. This will store ore in chunks and convert it into cargo. A single Refinery bin can only convert one type of ore at once, so you will probably one at least two or three different bins to make the most out of the ores you’re mining up. If you’re just after two types of ore (like Painite and Platinum) then two bins should do the job.
Prospector and Collector Limpets
These two are very important to take with you on a mining expedition. The Prospector Limpets are fired out in a straight line and when they hit an asteroid they’ll tell you what’s inside. Collector Limpets are also fired out of your ship, and they’ll hover around the area and collect any chunks of ore that are floating around. Collector Limpets are a bit fiddly, and you can choose to use a Collector Scoop if you have a ship that is more maneuverable.
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 locate areas where there are lots of minerals. The Pulse Wave Analyser will highlight asteroids with minerals internal, and also wherein the minerals are, which you could 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. There is a tonne of different ores in the game, such as Painite, Platinum, Palladium, Osmium, and on and on. Different areas in the galaxy (like Pristine Metallic Rings) can contain multiple varieties of ores.
Elite Dangerous also receives various balance patches, and some ores have been nerfed lately to carry their earnings margins more consistent with different versions. At the time of writing, one of the most a success mining expeditions you may undertake is Platinum mining. Kit your deliver out with Laser Mining equipment and discover a Platinum hotspot.
Good resources for new Elite Dangerous players include some of the fan-run websites, such as edtools.cc and eddb.io.
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 bigger ships, along with the Imperial Cutter, you probably have a few weapons on board. If not, you could try to break out the pirates, later sending out against the law report if you manage to attain a Resource Extraction Site, which is regularly patrolled via a few shape of protection.