SynCaine of Harcore Casual writes about not wanting to mine in w-space. His corporation's previous mining operations in high-sec space were 'easy and allowed for a more relaxed, social environment'. But in w-space, needing to store the exhumers in a hangar, having to haul the ore out of w-space or suffer 25% waste when refining at your tower, and the unviability of taking ships out of the home system to find a gravimetric site makes mining less attractive an option. For reasons I am unclear about, SynCaine thinks this is a 'problem ... somewhat unique to mining'.
It is apparently 'easy enough ... to roam in to a different WH to farm their Sleepers', but 'we can't take a few Hulks and an Orca in to another WH'. When asking in comments why they feel they can't move mining boats, I find that they have a static exit to low-sec, and need to scan that low-sec system for another wormhole. It's easier to take combat ships through the wormholes than an Orca, SynCaine explains. Yes, it is, but the Orca only needs to be taken on a single round-trip, which the wormhole should be able to manage easily enough.
It looks like SynCaine is living in class 3 w-space (which he confirms in a comment of a much more positive post about w-space mining), making his static wormhole a U210. That's a hefty wormhole, allowing 50% more mass through than our own C247, 3,000,000,000 kg compared with 2,000,000,000 kg, and ours already takes several mass-increased Orca round-trips to collapse it. We can certainly run logistics trips out to empire space and back using the Orcas without being in any danger of getting ourselves isolated. The U210 is more than capable of having an Orca going out and returning through it.
Now, granted, you're not then taking that Orca in to class 1 w-space, but you can't do that via an intra-w-space wormhole either, because of the single-jump mass limit. And outbound connections to class 2 or class 3 w-space, which have R943 and X702 designations from low-sec, won't be too happy about the Orca, allowing a total mass through of 750,000,000 kg and 1,000,000,000 kg respectively, but it could work. And K162s from class 2 w-space, the A239 wormhole type, allow 2,000,000,000 kg, and I've already noted the capability of the U210.
The Orca is fairly massive, at 250,000,000 kg, although Hulks and the cheaper Covetors are only 40,000,000 kg each. Let's take a trip.
|Ship used||Ship mass
|Direction||U210 wormhole mass
|U210 wormhole status|
That's an Orca and three exhumers taken through the U210, and it's hardly breaking a sweat. Take them in to another C3, through its K162, and you'll still be safe. As long as the wormhole is not stressed to half-mass when you use it, there is no danger of it collapsing from your own passage. But, SynCaine says, 'even if we could [take the Orca and Hulks], the hauling needed would be silly'. I don't see how the hauling would be any different than moving the ore from the gravimetric site in your own system to the tower. All that changes is a wormhole or two needs to be jumped through. That's hardly onerous. It also won't stress the wormhole, as long as you don't try to use the Orca to haul. After all, you wouldn't do that in your home system either, or you'd lose the mining bonuses that the Orca is there to provide, right?
Let's take a transport ship through the wormhole to see the effect. A Bustard, which itself is almost twice as massive as an Iteron Mk V hauler, has half the mass of an exhumer. That's handy!
|Ship used||Ship mass
|Direction||U210 wormhole mass
|U210 wormhole status|
And so on. An expanded Bustard carrying GSCs will haul more than a jet-can's worth of ore, which means we can bring around 30,000 cubic metres of ore per round-trip. So, with another twenty-six(!) round-trips by the Bustard before the wormhole definitely is stressed to its half-mass value of 1,500,000,000 kg, we've brought back a whopping 840,000 cubic metres of ore. Phew! I hope you have somewhere to store that. This is, of course, assuming minimal trips made by other pilots, but taking the Bustard backwards and forwards will give a really good idea of when the wormhole reaches half its mass allowance, making subsequent maths pretty straightforward. And remember that any ship that is within the single-jump mass-limit for the wormhole will still be able to pass through, however little mass allowance a wormhole has left. Keep mining, bring the exhumers back, and then the Orca, which can also be stuffed with ore for its return. It really isn't any more difficult than taking combat ships to a different system, and with those kinds of figures I imagine you'll complete your mining operation long before the mass of the wormhole becomes an issue. Or you'll get ambushed.
Yes, security is an issue. SynCaine points out that 'combat ships running sleepers require a far bigger force to disrupt than a mining fleet'. Right, in exactly the same way that they do in the home w-space system. And remember that even in a system with no current wormholes connecting in to it—'the hole secured', as SynCaine puts it—that can change at any minute. A new wormhole opens, lets a scout in, and hunts you down without your realising. But I think I am seeing the essence of his complaint with w-space mining particularly after I suggest that, if he's worried about the Orca's mass stressing the wormholes, he could leave it at home. SynCaine replies that the 'Orca is a serious boost to yield', and 'at some point, the risk/reward/effort stops being worth it'. I think it's clear his argument isn't that mining is unviable in w-space, just that it's become more hassle than he's used to.
Considering we are only recently coming out of the latest Hulkageddon, there has been plenty of discussion about staying safe when mining. Hulks were being specifically targeted in empire space by gankers, who would combine firepower and destroy the exhumers before Concord could intervene. Some commenters suggested miners should simply wait for Hulkageddon to end, but the canny capsuleers realised that you just needed to sacrifice some efficiency, or bring escorts in combat ships, to survive the initial attack. And the same is true in w-space: when you're vulnerable, you don't fit purely for efficiency. The only difference is that in w-space every day is Hulkageddon.
SynCaine is new to w-space, and it looks like he's never lived in null-sec. His 'Sunday night mining Ops' in high-sec must have been pretty casual and easy. Take some boats to a belt, kick back with a drink, and shoot the breeze whilst enjoying the Orca-boosted efficiency of the best mining ships that are optimally fitted to extract the most ore with each module cycle. This may come as a shock, but w-space ain't high-sec, sir. The real problem is not how w-space operates, it's your expectations of how it should operate. No, you can't expect to mine as efficiently, or haul as much as easily, or refine above 75%. You can't expect to take Hulks out to a different system and have them come home unscathed, any more than you can expect your combat ships or salvager to survive, showing that it's not a problem somewhat unique to mining. And the solution is not to change w-space, but to change your expectations.
W-space mining works just fine. SynCaine may not be 'at all surprised most WH Corps don’t bother with Grav sites', but he's simply wrong that they don't. It may be the case that not as much mining happens in w-space than empire space and null-sec, but without seeing normalised figures I can only assume that's because there just aren't as many pilots in w-space. It's a rarefied atmosphere, even for space. Look at the statistics CCP Diagoras posts. For example, 'PVP ship losses so far this month by sec group: High sec (31,585), Low sec (37,886), Null sec (65,105), Wormhole space (8,532)'. Well, it looks like most wormhole corporations don't bother with PvP either, right? Don't be silly. There is less overall activity in w-space only because there are less pilots in w-space.
I suspect SynCaine is averse to mining in w-space not because it's a poor choice of activity, but because he's not an industrialist. Ask a true w-space industrialist if he'd rather mine some ore, shoot some Sleepers, or go on a roam, and I'm confident he'd want to mine. I assure you, mining continues to occur in w-space, even if it's just a disposable miner in a Retriever, whatever someone new to w-space life would have us think. Maybe they aren't major, Orca-boosted operations, but that's because these pilots have adapted to w-space.