PMC Elite Dangerous - Mining

2020-07-15 last update (typo alike fixes in 2024-03-16T23:50:24Z).


Mining is shooting a laser to an asteroid which gives fragments, collector limpets grab these fragments and bring them to your ship where refinery will process them into minerals which are placed in your cargo hold. You can sell these minerals in many stations.

Types of mining?

Basic three types of mining are: laser mining, sub surface deposit mining and deep core mining. Laser mining is definitely the most common and easiest way of mining which only requires a mining laser to get fragmetns out of an asteroid. Sub surface deposit mining requires drill missiles which extract the deposits to eject mineral fragments. Deep core requires seismic charges and complex "dance" to blow up asteroid in spectacular manner.

Outfitting Mining Ship

Laser Mining Outfit:

You need fuel scoop which in general is optional, but the distances you need to travel between mining / selling systems are so long that you save time with fuel scoop not needing to dock for refuels. For those wealthy commander's (CMDR) with fleet carriers, fuel scoop is excess weight they don't need it as their carrier is nearby.

Shields beginner commanders should definitely use shields because it is very easy to fly into asteroids or have them clip your ship while you are not even moving (asteroid slowly rotates and "long" part hits your ship). Even experienced Triple Elite commanders often return from a mining trip with hull damaged some ways :)

Don't forget to purchase limpets from stations / carriers as limpet controllers are useless without limpets. Same goes to sub surface deposit drill missiles.

Finding A Planet With Rings by CMDR VicTic to find planetary rings with overlapping hotspots and nearby high paying sell stations.

Painite can be found in metallic rings, low temperature diamonds (LTD) and tritium (also void opals?) can be found in icy rings.

When you arrive to the mining system, fuel scoop tanks full because you have one problem less to worry when you start hyper jumping towards selling station with full cargo of expensive minerals.

If you have not detail surface scanned the rings before you need to do so to find the mining hotspots, but you still need detailed surface scanner in your mining ship as well because without it the ring hotspots will not show up even after you previously scanned them with other (perhaps exploration) ship.

After detailed surface scanning check visually the orange/yellow hotspots in the rings and look left side panel navigation tab for lockable locations for these hotspots. When you see overlapping hotspots of same type minerals, painite, LTD, tritium etc, then you have found something good.

Note: 2020-07-15 fleet carriers patch 3 totally ruined overlapping hotspots, for example Col 285 Sector Cc-k a38-2 triple hotspot has basically no LTD in it. Remains to be seen what happens with this. Double overlapping hotspots are very nice and triple overlapping hotspots are like you really struck gold now. At the moment of writing this page there are only four systems discovered by CMDRs for LTD triple overlapping hotspots :)

Col 285 Sector CC-K a38-2 1
Corona Austr. Dark Region OX-U b2-3 6
HIP 4351 10
Swoilz PK-R b20-0 1

Asteroid belts are not worth mining, go to planet rings instead. Not only rings but hotspots of specific mineral you want to mine. Not only hotspots but overlapping hotspots, the more the better.

AI Ships (pirates)

AI ships? Yes because never ever should you be mining/trading in Open Play because some despicable commanders destroy you for no reason. Piracy is perfectly fine, its great in fact, but killing other players for "fun" is not.

In the rings

When you drop to the ring asteroids, system authority vessels or miner or pirates or mixture of these appear, police/pirates will scan you. If a lone miner appears he just does his thing and doesn't bother you. If you get scanned by a pirate and have cargo on board, get ready to high wake jump out of there because the pirate will attack you. You can obey and jettison cargo (do not abandon) and then let your collector limpets pick them right back up heh.

If you lose connection to server or any other reason have to re-login, new set of AI ship(s) appear. The only way to avoid losing cargo or fighting with this fake scripted AI ship game mechanic is to hyper jump. However the pirates did accept reasonable amount of abandoned cargo, so just drop a few tons and wait for further instructions, eventually the pirate will be happy and leave after which you are free to mine again all alone. Or you could just re-login to the game and immediately hyper jump away off towards the selling station.

Traveling To Selling Station

When you are traveling from the rings to a selling station you are in danger of being interdicted by fake scripted AI ships. It is extremely dangerous as sometimes these stupid ships just decide to destroy you for no reason even after you have submitted to interdiction.

My personal method is: always submit to interdiction, put 4 pips to shields, boost away and engage FSD as soon as the cooldown is over. Unless the AI ship is some pimp engineered up to the gills garbage, you should be able to escape.

No shields for maximum cargo space, yup I get that, did that myself many times... unfortunately your chances of survival an interdiction is dramatically reduced without shields. I don't like shields all they do is take good cargo space, but its a compromise you have to decide by yourself, more cargo or very vulnerable for attacks.

If you own a carrier or hitch a ride on some other CMDRs carrier then you have nothing to worry about interdictions (ok there is the short supercruise from carrier to station but yeah).

Shooting Asteroid, the real mining

Choosing an asteroid: shoot prospector limpet to it and target the limpet. Do not start mine an asteroid that has less than 20% precious mineral content. Notice that painite has much higher percentage content than lets say LTDs.

Use left side panel contacts to add undesired target fragments to ignore list, only take what you need.

Even if your cargo hold is full you can still store stuff in the refinery bins, once you are in station and sell your cargo, refinery will automatically process the fragments in the bins and place minerals into cargo hold. You can then sell few more minerals.

Overlapping hotspots does not matter when it comes to void opals.

See notes above about patch 3. LTDs overlapping hotspots mining is still the best in a large ship with many collector limpets.

Summer of 2020 had a crazy LTD mining frenzy going on in Col 285 system, most lucrative and controversial mining method was "Farming The Egg". Read more about What Is The Egg?

Fleet Carriers

See notes above about patch 3.

In the bubble Col 285 "mines" ie Kirre's Icebox, there are probably more than hundred fleet carriers at any given time. These carriers either buy directly from the miner in the (nearby) system, or they will taxi miners to a highest paying / selling station hundreds of light years away.

HOWTO find carriers? Use system chat. Activate system chat by going to your comms panel (top left of your ship HUD), switch to the right most TAB which is settings "cog wheel" icon, in there setup system as "MAIN", now all the system chat across all the game-modes; open and solo, will be shown in the comms panel and you can chat with everybody when you use TAB key to switch into LOCAL to SYSTEM mode.

Once you activated system chat you should immediately start to see a rich chatter in the comms panel. Of course this depends on time of day, UTC morning to noon is a bit more quiet, but even then if there is more than 10 minutes of silence, your chat or Elite server connection (port forwarding?) is not working properly. Usually there are no issues seeing the chat but few reports tells us that for no apparent reason very rarely some CMDRs cant see chat, restarting Elite client and/or checking connection issues usually has fixed this.

When you watch the chat you most likely very soon see carrier CMDRs announcing LTD buying or departures to highest selling system. If there are no such announcements you can just ask "Any carrier leaving to selling system?" or similar.

Word of warning; often times the system chat gets trolls or just otherwise players who think they are anonymous and can say any offensive thing that comes to their mind. Try not to get involved in such conversations, just ignore them. Be friendly and positive in the system chat, lets all try to make it better, more enjoyable place for mining CMDRs.

Once you find a carrier buying minerals or departing to the selling system, just head over to it and dock, you might have to jump to a next star system. Its often times very difficult to find the star system name from chat, then browse it from navigation panel or type into galaxy map search. Searching for carrier NAME in systemp map or navigation panel is horror, there are no alphabetical order and the lists (at least in Col 285 Sector Cc-k a38-2) are very long.

Payment for a taxi?

These taxi rides do not have a technical method of payment, but most CMDRs donate either tritium or LTDs. For carrier CMDRs tritium while it can be used as fuel is far less valuable as LTDs, if you are wondering what to donate then simply donating/selling a few LTDs is just fine, that will cover the costs for fuel it takes to taxi you. Donating assumes carrier CMDR has put really low price on LTD buy order, like carrier is bying LTDs for 2000 credits that clearly means this carrier wants LTD donations as taxi fee.

Selling directly to carrier?

When carrier taxi ferrys you to a selling station it takes 20 minutes for the countdown assuming you arrived before or just when the countdown starts, then you go to sell however long this might take, then you return to a carrier and travel back to the LTD3 rings which takes another 20 minutes. This is overall 40 minutes of time used. If you mine and sell minerals directly to carrier it will take far less time, you dock, sell and jump / super cruise right back to the rings to mine some more. How much can you mine in 40 minutes as that's long a carrier ride would take. Selling directly to carriers is good for mining CMDRs and the carrier CMDRs as well.

Carriers buying directly from miners have various price ranges, you should know what the current highest paying station is at (see below) before choosing which carrier to sell to. It is pointless to write numbers into this page as these numbers most likely have changed after 24hrs, but lets just say that a very rough ballbark would be that miner should not sell LTDs with less than 1 million per ton.

What is the "sell bug"?

See notes above about patch 3. We are currently 2020-07-15T12:27:00Z unsure how sell bug has been fixed, looks like FDEV made it worse by fixing the bug... by not allowing more than 2 billion buy orders. We need more data/experience and see if FDEV will issue hotfix for this. Not sure if the below paragraphs still work or not.

In v3.7 fleet carriers patch 2 there is a bug that prevents CMDRs to sell into a carrier if the buy order is maxed out against carriers credit balance. What happens is that CMDR tries to sell, chooses sell amount (usually full cargo) and clicks "Sell" button... but nothing happens, the selling dialog just closes. Sometimes this can be avoided by selling a very low amounts, 10, 5 or even 1 ton at once which obviously is terrible experience if you have to sell hundreds of tons.

Often times there are carriers which buy orders simply do not work at all, even if you try to sell 1 ton at a time it doesn't work, in these cases just move on to a next carrier and announce the non-working carrier market in the system chat.

Carrier owners tip how to avoid this bug: create buy order, max out your credit balance (assuming you're short on credits), then reduce units by 790, this is the amount of biggest cargo ship in-game (lakon type-9, shieldless) and now when game checks against your carrier credit balance does not exceed the value and selling by CMDR's should work fine.

Selling Minerals

Search for stations buying expensive mineral by using eddb commodity painite, eddb commodity low temperature diamonds, inara commodity low temeprature diamonds or TradeDangerous:

Painite, demand 15800 sell painite --limit 10 --no-planet --pad-size l --avoid sirius --demand 15800

Painite, no demand limit sell painite --limit 10 --no-planet --pad-size l --avoid sirius

Low temperature diamonds, demand 15800 sell lowtemp --limit 10 --no-planet --pad-size l --avoid sirius --demand 15800

Low temperature diamonds, no demand limit

python3 sell lowtemp --limit 10 --no-planet --pad-size l --avoid sirius

If you can find bulletin board missions which buy minerals they pay great deal for these, however you need to judge if your time is worth to use searching for these missions or instead just selling the stuff on commodity market. In general its not worth your time to search these missions.

2020-06-06 Few days out from fleet carriers release and everyone seems to be in LTD laser mining frenzy on Borann system A 2 ring. People say LTD laser mining is now the most profitable mining.

2020-06-17 Frontier Developments reduced LTD sub surface deposits on overlapping hotspots. Some people yelled and screamed but actually this reduction is not that bad, you can still make crazy mounts of credits by mining LTD's, don't worry about it.

Bulk Tax

When you go selling minerals (any cargo really), you need to find market demand for four (4) times of the cargo space of your ship otherwise you get "bulk tax" into the market price.

For example if you do not have any LTD's in your cargo market price would be 1.7 million per ton, but once you have 640t of them and demand is 1450 then you get much less. We can calculate 25% by demand/4 so 1450/4 == 362.5, then you'll be paid only reduced price, sometimes as down as 500-900k per ton.

Often times high demand stations pay much less, perhaps like 900k - 1.1 million and the stations with low demand like few hundreds of low thousands then pays the crazy high prices like 1.7 million of LTD's per ton. Always check demand vs your cargo capacity (amount of minerals).

If you own a carrier you can park it nearby the low demand high paying station, then just do several LTD hauling trips with your ship selling only specific amount of tons to get the maximum price, right? WRONG, trust me on this on 2020-07-09 we sold 14,300t of LTDs in station that only accepted 360t per trip to avoid bulk tax... and we spend ALL DAY hauling diamonds. There were no other CMDR's present to help us out as everyone was on another system with high demand. It is just not worth it, go to a station with enough demand so you can sell large cargo ship load at once.