Mining is a nice profession as it provides you with X.P. during the mining process and with resources you can sell later. There is some initial cost involved as you will need to purchase some basic equipment, though this cost is relatively cheap in comparison to other professions.
How to get started
Mining is pretty straightforward. For a pictorial walk through, please see How to mine ore.
A mining laser is required to mine asteroids. However, with only a mining laser, you won't find anything but Ore, a Remote Mining Drone can do that too. No, you'll want to go after more valuable goods. For this, you need to increase your scan rating. So while you can get away with only a mining laser at the first few levels, pretty soon you'll want to get yourself a Asteroid Scanner. (Asteroid Scanner, mind you, not Asteroid Data Scanner!). Once you reach level 25, you might even decide to get yourself some Babylon Scan Units, to raise your scan rating even more.
If you want to see what the asteroid you're about to mine has to offer, you can get yourself a Asteroid Data Scanner. By equipping this system, you can see (using the blue button) which ores are located in that asteroid. However, it will show you all ores, regardless of the scan rating you have. If you're not getting any of the ore you know is there, you'll need to raise your scan rating.
Note that your scan rating only determines which ores you find, while your level determines how much. The amount will increase to a maximum of 25 ore per slot at around level 75.
You'll need a bit of mining skill to equip your mining laser. Just enough to equip it, spending more IP won't help you. If you want to equip an asteroid scanner, you'll also need Scan Tech. Again, only enough to equip it, spending more won't get you anything.
After getting up in levels a bit you will equip also Mining scanners - using scan tech skill to equip the different scanners.
A miner can get a maximum basic scan rate of 74 - at level 180 using scanners and Babylon pod.
DOs and DON'Ts
- Federation of Mining (F.O.M.) offices are located in the Sphere, VP and Furnace galaxies. These offices offer a reward for mining an unidentified ore in a specific location. If you plan on mining, always get a F.O.M. mission before you start. The farther or the more ore it needs you to collect, the greater the reward.
- If possible, use the Research Academy to boost your mining laser. A "damage boost" increases the laser's Scan Rating boost! However, the Captain Level boost can make higher level lasers available early, and Energy Reduction is useful for the massive requirements of the mining laser. This should not be done with low level mining lasers, as they are outgrown so quickly. Be sure to recycle boosted lasers no longer needed.
- Mine plain old Ore beyond level 15. That's when you can equip the first scanner. Get Remote Mining Drones instead. - this is disputable - I (Sukayo) and other miners pick up everything. Update, akkamaddi has given this debate its own section in the wiki page.
- Upgrade scanners before mining lasers. Mining lasers give a % bonus to scan rating, and a billion percent of zero is still zero!
Three views on what to collect
What to collect in asteroid fields is a matter of personal preference, based on play style and fuel reserves. There is no "correct" answer, but situational circumstance may indicate a more appropriate answer.
- Grab Everything - Activate the scan and then click the collect all button. Just grab everything, ore included. This uses fuel quickly, as tractoring each pile of resources costs fuel. It is also the quickest way to fill your cargo hold. Also, you gain XP and FOM standing for each pile of resources you tractor in, so you get XP quickly this way.
- Everything but Ore - This is an intermediate technique. Only tractor in resources that are not ore. Ore can be quickly gathered by mining drones, and mining drones work when you are offline, so there is no compelling reason to spend fuel mining ore.
- Mining resources only - This is the most careful expenditure of fuel. Only tractor in resources that are mining-unique resources, and ignore the resources that can be gained by extractors on ORSA fields. This minimizes fuel use and focuses only on resources which sell for the most credits in the GBM.
My (akkamaddi) personal practice is that if there is an Orbiting Refinery, start with Grab Everything. When cargo full or nearly so, drop Ore off at the Refinery. Return to the field and grab mining resources only. When cargo is full, drop at a settlement or use my Minos Transporter. Repeat. When the FOM mission is done, refine the stockpiled ore and send the Refined Ore to my home base.
Each player develops their own personal preference. Core Exiles is complex enough that the primary rule, "You Do You", always holds.