There doesn't seem to be much variation in the level two mining missions agents are sending me on, although I suppose there are only so many ways you can ask someone to shoot a stationary rock. Hmm, there's a thought: the rock doesn't have to be stationary. How about trying to mine exotic materials from a comet hurtling through the system, or prevent a meteor storm from hitting a station by mining the rocks to oblivion within a certain amount of time, both of which would require some sort way to stay within range of moving objects, perhaps with a reverse-effect tractor beam pulling you to the object. But I digress.
Two types of mining mission continue to crop up. The first is to wander up to a big floating rock and fire mining lasers at it until they all shut down from the ore being depleted. This couldn't be simpler. You warp to deadspace, find the only asteroid in the pocket and start mining. With this simplicity of mining comes the requirement to bring back a few thousand cubic metres of ore, no doubt more than your mining cruiser can carry. Mining the necessary amount will require transferring most of the ore to a jet can, which will need to be done every couple of cycles to prevent wasted cycles from your ship's hold being full, before swapping ships and bringing back a hauler of some kind to get the ore back to the station. It is simple, if time-consuming.
A sub-type of this mission is when the deadspace pocket is frequented by rats. Every now and again some rats will turn up and start shooting you, which might sound threatening but it serves to keep you awake at the keyboard, helpfully ensuring that you are alert enough to keep transferring your cargo to a jet can and not losing precious cycles by overfilling your hold. Of course, this would be more effective if Apocrypha had working sounds of cannon fire and missile explosions. But apart from these infrequent interruptions, you're still just shooting at a big floating rock.
The second type of mission has you turning up in a deadspace pocket to find a little under a dozen smaller rocks in space, which collectively just happen to contain the exact amount of ore that your agent is asking for. Because some distance between the rocks isn't a sufficient enough inconvenience they all also happen to be floating around a massive but geologically uninteresting rock, what we in the scientific community call a 'contrived obstruction'. You need to fly around this obstruction and mine all the asteroids until they are depleted to complete the mission.
However, this second type of mission isn't as awkward as it first seems and even offers advantages over the first type. Even though there is a large obstruction that you have to work around to get to all the asteroids it is normally possible to position your ship in such a way that the rocks get divided in to two groups, with all rocks in each group able to be within mining range at the same time, reducing the amount of positioning required. Another benefit to this division is that only one jet can should need to be dropped—and its contents subsequently retrieved—because the amount of ore required for this type of mission is significantly lower than that of the first type.
Rather than dropping all ore mined in to multiple jet cans around the obstruction, which is perhaps a natural reaction when mining, note that the total ore from several of the rocks will fit in a fair-sized mining cruiser's hold. It is thus best to mine from as many asteroids as possible before popping a jet can. Transfer everything to the can and then move to mine the remaining rocks. It is quite possible that the rest of the ore will fit in your hold, letting you return to the station with your current load and needing to head back to deadspace only having to grab the one jet can without wasting time manoeuvring for a second. Of course, a tractor beam on your industrial ship would speed up either process.
Despite the obstruction and multiple targets of the second type of mission I prefer to be sent on that type instead of the first. The amount of ore required for the mission is small enough that the rocks are depleted after a couple of mining cycles each, which, despite being a minute long, offers greater interactivity for the capsuleer. It's possible to wander from rock to rock, inefficiently mining from each in turn, but with good use of the tactical overlay and a survey scanner it is possible to position the ship for efficient mining and decide which rocks to lock on to and mine first. Except for a lack of anything shooting at you it can feel almost like an encounter. Or, at least, salvaging after an encounter.
I hope to be running level three missions for a Core Complexion, Inc. manufacturing agent soon. It will be interesting to see if there is any further variety in mining missions.