Blue lasers of icy death

8th June 2009 – 5.35 pm

My Core Complexion, Inc. agent is probably wondering where I am. He asked me to get him some ice within twenty four hours and it has been almost a week since I undocked. I'll simply claim I took a wrong turn at the stargate, he'll probably believe me. In fact, I've been training my ice harvesting, astrogeology and mining barge skills so that I would actually be able to mine the ice instead of ramming my Osprey in to the asteroid in a vain attempt to break off some cargo hold-sized chunks. With everything finally learnt to an agreeable level it is time to fulfil my responsibility, so I give my Caldari Navy agent one last hand, by taking out a Gallente diplomat who probably had it coming to him anyway, before heading back to the adjacent region.

First, I need a mining barge. Skills on their own don't really mean much. As the two agents are in different regions I take the opportunity to compare prices of ships and equipment when travelling and find where the cheaper prices are. I buy myself a Retriever, as planned, along with two ice harvesters and a mining upgrade module to help reduce the cycle time of the harvesters. Grabbing a shuttle to pick up the Retriever, I fit out the mining barge, name my new ship 'Fido' and head out to a deadspace astroid field where thar be ice.

When I drop out of warp I adjust my overview settings to display asteroids, find the ice asteroids I am to mine, lock on to them as I fire my main engines to approach one, and when I am within range of my ice harvesters I fire up the cool blue beams! Now, it may seem that I am relating too much of the tedious details but, sadly, what I have described are just about the most exciting aspects of ice mining. The ice harvesters have a cycle time of about eight minutes, after the fitted ice mining upgrade module and skills are taken in to account, so it's simply a matter of starting them and waiting. The harvesters also seem to have an annoying habit of cutting out the moment the ship's cargo hold is full, so with two lasers and a hold that can only contain two units of ice I need to pay some attention if I am to off-load to a jet can, as the harvesters cut out immediately on completing a cycle and I could waste some time reactivating the idle modules.

I was hoping that doubling up on the ice harvesters and the larger cargo hold of the Retriever would save me some effort, and I suppose it does in a way. But just to annoy me, the deadspace mission pocket has two ice asteroids, both of which I need to mine in their entirety to complete the mission, which are spaced over twenty kilometres away and consist of five units each of ice. Their distance apart means that I cannot get in to position between the two where my ice harvesters' ten kilometre range could mine both of them at once, which means that with an odd number of units of ice to be mined in each I need to have one of the harvesters powered-down for the final unit, making me use six cycles to obtain all the ice instead of five.

With a cycle time around the eight minute mark I actually jettison my pod from the Retriever at one point and head out to a station to pick up some food for dinner. The ice harvesters' cycle is complete when I get back, with the ice needing to be transferred to the jet can and the cycle restarted, but at least I get something else useful accomplished in the period.

Ice has a much greater volume per unit, which can make make ice mining seem less productive. Mining for minutes at a time to get one or two units of ice doesn't feel like accomplishing much, but viewed by volume brings it in to perspective. I suppose ice mining may not be much different from standard veldspar mining. The longer cycle time of ice mining could compare to multiple cycles of a normal mining laser, because ore would need to be transferred to a jet can less regularly than ice. I suppose the ice mining mission didn't particularly take longer to complete than a normal mining mission. Well, except for the skill training and buying a new ship, and at least I get to keep them.

As corporation colleague Kename Fin asks for some blue ice for the corporation's POS, and maybe the wormhole endeavour, after completing my mission—where the agent is strangely pleased with my efficiency—I pop out to the ice field in the system where the deadspace mission pocket was located to see what the opportunities are like. I warp in to an extraordinary sight: Retrievers and Mackinaws as far as the eye can see, blue lasers setting space on fire. I can honestly say I have never seen such a busy asteroid field before, and it is quite wonderful. Sadly, there is only white glaze ice, no blue, which may be because I am in high-sec, it is the first ice to be mined because of its value, or a combination of the two. Either way, I turn around and head back to the station, no ice in my hold. Another day, perhaps.

  1. 3 Responses to “Blue lasers of icy death”

  2. Yeah, ice mining is, to put a positive spin on it, nice and relaxing :)

    Actually when you get into a Mackinaw with Ice Harvester Upgrade IIs the cycle time drops to a slightly less unholy six minutes or so, and the volume doubles (2 units per cycle per harvester). Even so, not for everyone :)

    By stnylan on Jun 8, 2009

  3. Yes, it lets me catch up on other activities. As I told a corporation colleague at the time, 'I'm drafting a journal post about my first experience of mining ice, which will be posted early next week.

    '...about the same time my next cycle finishes'.

    By pjharvey on Jun 8, 2009

  4. Perfect!
    But I'm biased toward mining, so forgive me.

    By Kename Fin on Jun 9, 2009

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