What's mined is ores

13th May 2012 – 3.30 pm

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
(million kg)
Direction U210 wormhole mass
(million kg)
U210 wormhole status
3,000 Stable
Orca 250 Out 2,750 Stable
Exhumer 40 Out 2,710 Stable
Exhumer 40 Out 2,670 Stable
Exhumer 40 Out 2,630 Stable

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
(million kg)
Direction U210 wormhole mass
(million kg)
U210 wormhole status
2,630 Stable
Bustard 20 Out 2,610 Stable
Bustard 20 In 2,590 Stable
Bustard 20 Out 2,570 Stable
Bustard 20 In 2,550 Stable

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.

  1. 14 Responses to “What's mined is ores”

  2. So you want to take your Orca to another w-space system and boost your Hulks, but you don't want to die. What do you do?

    In the home system, because gang links work remotely, you'd park the Orca in your tower and simply not get it in harm's way. And with corporate bookmarks or warping to Hulks in the same fleet guiding haulers to jet-cans, there is no need to have the Orca in the gravimetric site to use its bonuses to tractor beams.

    Maybe we can replicate the safety of the Orca in the tower in the other w-space system. Make a safe spot and park the Orca there, far from the miners, and you still get all the bonuses it brings to mining. That's a good start, but the Orca isn't really safe, it's just a big and tempting target sitting in empty space for a hunter to ambush. You know, I think we can modify our technique to use that to our advantage.

    I would consider an Orca to be a more alluring target to w-space hunters than a few exhumers, particularly if you choose to take Covetors instead of the more expensive Hulks. But, more importantly, the Orca is much more massive than the exhumers. That makes resolving its position using combat probes that much easier. If we put the Orca in a safe spot somewhere distant from the mining operation we are simply giving a hunter a choice of targets, assuming a solo hunter. Let's instead confuse the ambusher.

    Don't park the Orca in a safe spot many AU from the gravimetric site, but when warping in to the site create a bookmark that is just off-grid and put the ship there. There is no way any pilot will discern a gap of a few thousand kilometres using d-scan, so the Orca will seem to be in the site with the miners. It will also be the most massive ship, giving the best chance of a positive hit with scanning probes, and probably the primary target. But now what happens is the hunter will scan your operation, warp to the primary target, and find only the Orca in empty space.

    Whilst the ambusher is wondering 'Where are the rocks? Where are the miners?', you can tell your colleagues to get out of the site, and the system. Maybe the ambusher will twig early on what you've done, but it's more likely he won't, particularly when he's got a juicy target right in front of him. This is time you've given to your miners that will get them out safely. But what about the Orca? Tough loss, huh? Nope.

    The Orca is just providing bonuses to mining from the gang links in the high-slots. Those low-slots are free for warp core stabilisers. You won't be using any mining drones, so throw a couple of flights of ECM drones in your bay. But when engaged, don't flee immediately. That would be uncool. Act panicked, and align to the wormhole—align, but don't warp. You just want to get your speed up and make it look like you're running. Tell your miners to flee, and only once they are safely gone do you initiate warp. If your warp stabs aren't enough, loose your ECM drones.

    Being a fat and tempting target acts as chum to the space shark. The clever positioning of your ship has the hunter fooled. Your acting skills gets your buddies out without a scratch. And your canny fitting will save your own skin. Congratulations, you have successfully mined in w-space and even survived an ambush. That is one way to adapt. It just takes a little thought and compromise.

    By pjharvey on May 13, 2012

  3. Dont forget the obvious you can fit two hulks in an Orca so it could make a difference when concerned over mass restrictions. Whats wrong in using your U210 and mining your low / null connection when empty rather than looking for a further WH. I have even had the fortune to be able to ice mine a low connection once. The added advantage is the ability to see all entering the system and not needing to rely on D scan.

    By amarrahh on May 13, 2012

  4. A most splendidly crafted argument, and another magnificent post, but that title wins all - genius.

    By Melmoth on May 13, 2012

  5. Or use a tempory placed small pos with a few basic defences and fuel for a few hours.
    Take it with you when leaving.

    By Ahn Riane on May 13, 2012

  6. Or fit a cloak to the Orca.

    By anfo101 on May 13, 2012

  7. Awesome post, never cease to be amazed by the things and tactics I learn just reading. Was better than watching a movie!

    One the links at the bottom of the post appear broken "disposable miner in a Retriever."

    By Ardent Defender on May 13, 2012

  8. My corp regularly mines our WH. If we avoid opening our own exits, at times we have gone days without seeing any other ships, hostile or otherwise. And we grind up *everything* in the belt till it despawns, sure we refine in the WH. Sure we lose 25%, but figure the time we save not hauling ore out, we make up in mining roids, not buying new ships by getting ambushed on our 15th jump into low sec hauling ore out of the WH. Sure, everyday is Hulkageddon in a WH, but when you can make 100+million ISK total to share out in an hour, I would say the risk vs reward is not unreasonable. Grav site spawn with a regularity in our WH and we have never had to move to another WH to mine. And when we run out of rocks, there is always Sleepers!

    Remember in W space, only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage are going to survive.

    By JamesT on May 14, 2012

  9. Good point, amarrah. You could get a fair operation running through a puny R943 stowing exhumers in the Orca both ways. And clearing the connecting empire system seems like a good option too.

    Thanks, Melmoth. It was only finding the right pun that finally convinced me to go ahead and write the post.

    A tower is perhaps overkill, Ahn, but certainly an option for the serious miner. And a cloak is a good defensive addition to the Orca, but it cannot be active at the same time as the mining-boosting gang links, anfo101.

    AD, treat it as a sneak preview.

    And JamesT, thanks for confirming that mining is viable given the risks and rewards. That you clear out the rock fields reminds me of another benefit over empire space mining: ABC ores are in w-space. What you can mine and haul back from a gravimetric site is far more valuable than the standard rocks in high-sec, which I assume offsets any loss in efficiency and refining process. It's interesting to learn that you don't need to find other systems to mine in too.

    By pjharvey on May 14, 2012

  10. I thinki its more like... "We have much more financially viable 'safer' activities we can do, so whats the point in mining."

    We mine Grav sites only when we have a GRav site, which is sparce at best, and have nothing else to do. An hour in a Sleeper Sites is similar income level with less exposure to gank.

    By Cyndre on May 14, 2012

  11. Thanks for the clarification, Cyndre. I assume you know about the vagaries of sites in w-space.

    The site is activated the moment any ship warps in to it, even when warp is initiated and cancelled. Once activated, a site will despawn after three days, regardless of any further activity. Merely scanning the site and making a bookmark of the cosmic signature, however, will not activate the site, leaving it dormant until visited.

    It is important all scanners and scouts realise what activates a site, so that they don't warp in to get specific bookmarks thinking they are okay because they're not touching the rocks. The timed despawn also means it is better to harvest sites serially rather than in parallel. Clear out the current site until all resources are gone or the site despawns before moving to the next, and don't get tempted in to grabbing the high-value ore in multiple sites first. This will give you the maximum time in each site.

    By pjharvey on May 14, 2012

  12. Good points.

    If it would be that easy to mine in WH then it would not be that lucrative.

    If you are clever enough to stay alive then your "work" will value more. That is simply because many others die thus their work products get... lost. A smaller offer means a higher profit margin for the sellers.

    By Paul on May 14, 2012

  13. We do that. we aren't burdened with too many Grav sites. We always clear out all of the ABCs and a few million m3 of 'other stuff' as time allows and despite it seeming like Syncaine isn't an industrialist, we had to buy a XL Ship Maint Array because we needed the 20,000,000 m3 of space to stash the ore from our mining trips. We were capping out the Corp hanger too quickly... the refining guys couldn't keep up...

    when we have a grav site, which is rare...

    By Cyndre on May 15, 2012

  14. I have managed to keep my Hulk alive simply by either using scouts while my group mines or if you are solo style pilot I mine in safe space and watch local as if I'm in null =P . Although I notice I am a bit late on this thread. Retribution has played a large part in making safe space safe again (if you are really playing and not an afkr' that is)

    By George on Feb 18, 2013

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