Elite Dangerous Mining Complete Guide

Elite Dangerous Mining Complete Guide by LocNor

Welcome to mining! I’m going to assume if you made it to this guide then you’re probably familiar with the basics. In summary, gear up a ship, go to a planet with rings or a an asteroid field, drop in, laser rocks, and pick up the pieces, money. Easy.

OK lets pick that apart and look at it. I should mention that there is a lot of detail behind some of concepts in this guide that I’m just going to skim over. Additionally, people are going to have differing opinions or in some cases actual numbers. I’m going to just give a no nonsense, easy to digest rundown. It’s a quick guide not a dissertation.

2 Schools of Mining:

Actually before we start, let’s talk a little about the two schools of mining. Both are valid and both have their place.

  • School 1-Quality: More time in ring, bring out only the most valuable of cargo.
  • School 2-Quantity: Be selective, but not too selective, load up and leave, return.

I’ll refer to these regularly as your choice of equipment and your method of mining revolves around what school is best for your situation. These represent the 2 extremes, you’ll probably borrow a little from both schools to develop your own style.

Tools of the trade:

Let’s talk equipment, we’ll get to ships later.

  • Mining lasers: These blast the chunks from the rock. They come in two sizes, small and medium. Generally speaking the more the better, but there is a serious plateau at two mediums. Aim for 2-3 mediums and then be happy, you’re done here. (4 if you can manage a 8a Distributor, see the appendix)
  • Refinery: This device stores the chunks in “bins” and once a full ton is available, converts it to cargo. A bin can only contain 1 type of material at a time. So if a rock is giving you 3 materials and you only have 2 bins, you’ll have to manage the thing. Conventional wisdom says BIGGER THE BETTER! Not the case.
    • School 1: You’re only after choice materials so you’ll be managing you’re bins anyway so you can get a much smaller number of bins. Let’s call it, the number of different rock you’re after plus 2. So if you’re going in looking for just Painite and Platinum, you only really need 4 bins.
    • School 2: The most bins you will need is 8 or 9. That means a 3A (8 bins) or 4B (9 bins) are “top of the line”. 4B runs you 1.5mil and a 4A (the largest, at 10 bins) is 4.5mil. As you’ll see in a minute, that is an almost completely wasted 3mil.
  • Limpets: Limpets are a universal little buddy that can be programmed to do different things. They take up cargo space and are effectively ammo (don’t leave a station without going to restock and loading up. Generally take 50 to 75% of your hold in limpets. Adjust as needed) Going up in rank on limpet controllers generally controls either operational distance or time active. In all cases, A rated is generally not wildly more expensive than lower grades so just get A.
    • Prospector: I’ll say this right now, if you are following a different guide and it tells you to forgo this. It’s an old guide and you should stop using it. These were buffed late 2015. What this does is shoots out in a straight line, hits a rock and tells you its makeup. I’ll go into what you should be looking for here later. It will also tell you when the thing is out of goods and you should stop firing. Most importantly… once a prospector has hit a rock, the total number of chunks you can get out of it increases. Dramatically. Like, “you would be a complete masochist to leave a station without one of these” dramatically. There are different sizes of these, I’ll save you the pain and just say. 1A is all you’ll ever need.
    • Collectors: These guys hover around and fetch the chunks and bring them to your hold. Here again, if the other guide you’re reading says these are broken or diabolically is telling you to scoop chunks, those are old. While these DO function a lot better than they did, they are still dumb as bricks. They will go from your ship, to the chunk, and back to your ship and deposit the cargo. If any of those lines happens to be through a rock… time to deploy a new one (AFTER you move away from or back around the corner to the chunk, the new one would be just as happy to suicide as the last one.) These things can control a number of limpets each, and you can stack them.
      • School 1: Your maximizing the value of any given cargo space. So you need just enough to fetch the chunks in space before they time out. For cargo under 100, 2-3 should be sufficient. For holds over that, 3-5 will be slow but functional.
      • School 2: You want to get the chunks out of the rock, and move on. 6 is a target number. For hulls under a 100, 4 will serve. For the big boys, 8-10.
  • Cargo space: And here we all at the great debate between the 2 schools. Generally, the more the better. However, this should not be taken over other valuable equipment.
    • School 1: You can get away with fewer collectors, but RESIST the temptation to just take two and stock up. You will be out there FOREVER waiting on those poor bastards.
    • School 2: More limpets is better. You want these things picking up the chunks as fast as they are coming off the rock. If that’s not the case in your build and you’re using this school, go back and get another controller.

So as you can probably deduce, which school is best has a lot to do with the size of your ship. While both schools are valid for any size, for profit per hour: Smaller ships favor school 1 and the bigger boys do better overall with school 2. BOTH ARE OK!

Where to mine:

Metallic rings are almost always going to be the thinner silver ring closest to the planet. You can drop in anywhere or use one the RES beacons. If you use the RES beacon, just boost to out of radar range and you should largely be left alone.

  • School 2: Special note here if you are speed mining, just blitz right into the ring from super cruise, take your 2 percent hull damage and save several minutes off your run. (Perform at your own risk)

What to mine?

Time is money. My time is valuable, so is yours. So while you may have heard that metal rich is ok, it is, it’s just that, ok. So for the purposes of this guide we are going to just talk about Pristine Metallic Rings. I could cover how to find these and what you’re looking for, but instead, here: Metallics!

Pristine Metallic Rings contain 9 materials. That’s right, only 9 possible materials… how’s that 3mil credit 10th bin looking now?

In order of worth (approx):

  1. Painite(39k)
  2. Platinum(21)
  3. Palladium(15k)
  4. Gold(11k)
  5. Osmium(7.4k)
  6. Silver(4.7)
  7. Bertrandite “Berty” (2.5)
  8. Indite(2.1k)
  9. Gallite(1.9k)

From there we can break those down into a few groups we can deal with:

  • Top 3(5): Painite/Platinum/Palladium/(Gold/Osmium)
  • Turn-ins: Painite/Platinum/Osmium (these are the only ones you can get missions for)
  • Trash: Berty, Indite, Gallite
  • School 1: You’ll want to favor either the Top 3 and/or Turn-ins (which just adds Osmium). If you stacked missions, you can tailor your Osmium load to just enough to pay the missions then load the rest with the Top 3. Actively vent any undesirables before they become cargo, if a few sneak through that’s ok, we’ll handle them later.
  • School 2: Prospect a rock. Mine it if it has a) Any amount of Painite, b) 10%+ of Top 3, c) 20% of Top 5. Don’t bother looking at your refinery, unless you have a jam. Your job is to get as close to the rock as is safe to speed your limpets up.

Sample rocks:

  • 45% Indite, 15% Berty = PASS
  • 20% Silver, 5% Gold = Your choice, silver is better than most trade routes pay per ton but you could do better.
  • 35% Berty, 16% Platnium, 4% Painite = Take
  • 45% Painite = Dance!

NEW – Here is another useful tool for finding sites: http://edtools.ddns.net/


HOW you mine is largely school based, but you may want to tweak for how large/slow your ship is.

General rules of engagement, favor slower or still rocks, the rounder the better. If you must mine a faster rock, try to find its axis of rotation and mine from there. This isn’t always possible. In those cases, try to mine only from the ends of the swinging sides so any chunks are thrown clear of “THE HAMMER”. You will lose limpets, it happens. If the rock is particularly difficult, unless it’s that glorious 45% pure Painite, consider just leaving it. Work toward the planet so you don’t double back on yourself.

  • School 1: Prospect a rock, if its good, get as close as is safe. Since you’re going to be futzing with the refinery a lot and not flying (texting while driving). Favor being safe over limpet efficiency. Once depleted, continue managing the refinery. If the next rock is within sight, fire off another prospector, but mostly just keep on top of that refinery.
  • School 2: Speed! Only target slower rocks that you can almost kiss or slight faster ones you can manage, closer you are the faster your limpets work. Once a prospector hits a good rock, make your way over, however fire the prospector at the next rock. Once prospected, the additional chucks are unlocked so you don’t need it active out your current rock, set yourself up for the next one. Use your time to manage your ship and its relation to the chunks so you limpets are never working too hard. You’ll know its depleted when it stops giving you chunks. If you did it right you shouldn’t have to wait long to move on.

When the mining stops:

  • Out of limpets, cargo not full: Note it, bring more next time. Now you have a choice, you can sight mine, blow a chunk off a rock and target it. You can use this method to top off. OR, you can just go home and sell and come back (this method will almost always be the better option)
  • Cargo full, still tons of limpets: Note it, potentially bring less next time. However, unless you’ve been meticulous, you probably have some trash cargo you can ditch. If you just jettison them, your limpets will pick them up again, not helpful. There are a number of ways to deal with this but here is the ancient miner’s secret that will take care of your trash cargo. Select the type and amount of cargo to jettison and do so. As they release thrust straight down and enjoy the soothing explosions of useless crap against your hull. Back to work.
  • Out of limpets, cargo full: You win!


This comes down to personal preference. Here are some sample builds and a progression. In general you want a lot of internals and ideally a medium pad hull. Given that extraction systems tend to favor outposts over stations a medium pad gives you a lot more options for local sales.

These are all templates, not full builds. They have an A rated Distributer, a mining laser setup, and the internals. Adjust the rest to your style.

  • Cobra III: Not great but it’ll get you started
  • Cobra IV: I know this ship gets a bad rap for combat but it’s a FANTASTIC beginning miner
  • T6: It seems an obvious choice but its not as good as you think it would be
  • Asp: This was a personal favorite, nice an agile with a solid laden jump range
  • Mynthon (Python): This thing is insane for the medium size, you could go bigger but with diminishing returns. The Mynthon can bring in 3-5mil (6+ if you stack mining missions) per hour reliably using the School 2 method, it would be back on site mining again before the bigger fair have finished their first trip.
  • NEWDropship: By request. Its a more armored Asp with slightly more cargo (16t), but with half the jump for twice the cost.

NEW – A note on large pad ships. Everything above a python is completely viable, however to save space, they are all variations on a theme. Equip a 4B refinery, 3-4 medium mining lasers, the largest distributor you can manage, and as many collectors as makes sense, 6-10. The rest is cargo space.

NEW – RES sites.

RES’s do boost the rarer (top 3 at least) spawn rates, but also spawn pirates that will attack you on a scan with anything in your hold (including just limpets). The small increase in quality is not sufficient to risk death. The most i could add about it, is to jump into a HazRES and boost to out of radar range where you should be safe… be careful where you wander.

Most of the time hanging around these places is just not worth it unless you have wing support. Even in a ship that can defend itself, the time lost fighting, with the bounty is likely break even, unless you go ham on the pirates, in which case you’d be better off in a fighter. Your limpets will not last long while you juke around. Sadly RES’s are bounty hunting resources more than mining.

I guess, I could also add that if you go on a long tear of just crap rocks, if you log out and log back in again. It appears to relocate you closer to an existing RES, but not actually IN it. Should solve your bad streak, just watch that radar for the first few rocks.

NEW – Wings

This is easy. Mining in wings is a good idea. Not only to you get the normal trade dividends (free money!), each rock is effectively instanced. So, if you find that cherished 45% Painite, your wing mates can come over and extract yet MORE out of it as their version of it has not been mined out. This is great for all parties.

Its worth noting too as you can use this fact for interesting results such as mining a RES, you can go mining while the other three fight. if each of them brings a mining laser, when you find something good, they can come over and nearly quadruple the output of the rock.

NEW – Mining lasers, the science.

Adjusted the above builds for this. Thanks to Nazgutek and his incredibly detailed Ship Mining Speeds List.

It looks like the math work to (lasers / distributor):

  • 2 Mediums / 6A
  • 3 Mediums / 7A
  • 4 Mediums / 8A
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