Guide – Moon Mining
This page, Moon Mining, was originally published in EON Magazine, and is copyright to MMM Publishing. It was written by Nyphur.
You’ve mined asteroids before, but have you ever mined a moon? With a properly set up POS you can, and make ISK while you sleep. Or whilst you’re awake, or down the pub, or…
We’ve all found ourselves mining asteroids at some time or another, whether it was for five minutes at the start of our EVE careers or currently as a full-time profession. With the advent of POS (or ‘Player-Owned Structures’) we now have the opportunity to mine moons. While asteroids yield ore that is refined into minerals used in Tech I production, moons yield minerals that need to be reacted together to produce advanced materials for Tech II production.
So, how do we mine moons? First you need to establish a POS, which is essentially a mini starbase that belongs to your corp, nearby the moon of choice. The POS is the driving force behind the Tech II market, but they have also been put to extensive military use in planned 0.0 regional invasions and serve a key role in outpost defence. They can also be used as factories and laboratories using special modules. This guide, however, will focus on the moon-mining aspect of the POS rather than its military or other industrial uses.
SCANNING YOUR MOONS
Unlike asteroids, whose types are clearly marked, the mineral content of a moon is not immediately known. It has to be scanned using a survey probe to discover its contents. Also, unlike asteroids, each moon can have up to four minerals present. Most moon materials will be marked on a scan as ‘Abundance 1′ but occasionally you’ll find 2s or even 3s or 4s. Abundance currently doesn’t do anything, but it’s rumoured to be a planned feature linked to Tech II Moon Harvesting Arrays.
To scan a moon you’ll require a scan probe launcher and several survey probes. Warp to the moon you wish to inspect, fly your ship in close until you’re pointing towards it and launch a survey probe. Don’t worry about it reaching the moon – even if it seems that it will not get there, if you’ve aimed properly it will. After its flight duration, it will report back the results of whatever materials, if any, are present within the planetary satellite. You don’t even need to stick around. You can keep scanning other moons until the duration is up. However, if you log out, jump into another system or dock, communication with your scan probes currently in space will be lost and you will have to start again.
Scan probe launchers, unlike normal launchers, do not take up a ship’s launcher hardpoint. You can fit them to any ship with a high slot, making vessels such as the Iteron Mk III a popular choice for moon scanning as they can fit a scan probe launcher and hold hundreds of survey probes in the cargo hold. Rather obviously, high cargo capacity, high warp speed and high ship agility are aspects to look for when shopping for a decent probe vessel; one that allows you to carry a lot of probes, get to the next moon in the list fast and align to it as fast as possible.
The very smallest moon-mining operation requires no more than 150-200 million ISK to start up and this can certainly see some profit. This setup consists of a small control tower, which is the central nexus of the POS, a moon-harvesting array, a silo to hold the material harvested and, of course, fuel. Unlike mining lasers that you use on asteroids, the moon miner (or harvesting array) is fully automated and works 24/7, even through downtime. Once the modules are anchored, brought online, the material type is selected and the miner linked to the silo using the POS management interface, 100 units of the material you are mining will be dropped into the silo every hour. Some raw materials can be sold for more than the fuel cost of the POS, making mining them a profitable venture.
THE NEXT STEP
While selling raw materials may be profitable and require a low initial investment, it doesn’t bring in much ISK. To expand your POS development, you could set up more small mining bases, but that’ll just add to the trickle rather than flood ISK into your wallet. What you really want to do is start a reaction.
This is where things get complicated, but I will try to keep it simple. Two raw materials mined with Moon Harvesting Arrays can be reacted together in a Medium Reactor Array, which needs a blueprint for the appropriate reaction, to produce a new material. This material is called “Processed” and a list of them can be found in the Reactions Table in our item database.
Moon Harvesting Arrays set to mine the materials required for a reaction, or silos set to hold the materials required (and then filled with purchased raw materials) are linked to the reactor’s input. The input is on the left- hand side of the POS management array, while the output on the right is then linked to a silo configured to hold the intermediate material. Once properly linked and online, the reactor will take in 100 units of each input material per hour and will output 200 units of the intermediate material at the same time.
Unfortunately, due to the reactor array using 1500 CPU and the silos using 500 CPU each, a medium reaction cannot be done on a small tower. It requires at least a medium tower and since they use twice as much fuel as a small tower, reacting will cost you twice as much per week than simply selling your raw materials. Take this into account when assessing your profit margins.
THE BIG MONEY
The final step in the moon-mining chain is the complex reaction. As you can see from the Reaction Table, intermediate materials can be reacted together to form advanced materials like Crystalline Carbonide and Ferrogel. Unlike simple reactions, these cannot take place in a medium reactor array but must take place in a full-sized ‘Reactor Array’, which uses twice as much CPU as its medium counterpart. Due to this, medium towers are not suitable to run a complex reaction. Instead, complex reactions must be run on large control towers only.
Also, unlike simple reactions, they may take up to four different intermediate reactions to produce a single product, as is the case with Ferrogel, and they do not produce 200 units per hour but rather a large amount which varies from reaction to reaction. If in doubt, check the Reaction Table or look up the reaction blueprint info in-game.
These advanced materials are then used to build Tech II components which are used to build Tech II modules, ammo and ships. Since producing advanced materials is the ultimate purpose of moon mining, they sell very well, more than justifying the double fuel bill over a medium tower and the 500-700 million ISK price tag on a large control tower and modules. Selling intermediate materials is often very difficult, but if you can react them into an advanced material, sales will be swift and more than worthwhile.
Starbases use ice products from refined ice as fuel, as well as NPC-sold industrial trade goods. It is a good idea to have your fuel supply nearby the POS to minimise hauling when it’s time to refuel and haul the product back for sale. One successful fuelling strategy, and the one I use myself, is to keep a stockpile of at least one week’s fuel in the corporate hangar array at the POS, then top the fuel up daily from that. The stockpile has one week’s supply added each week, at the same time that I haul the product back to the nearest station. This means I only need to actually haul to and from my POS once per week.
An additional note is that you can simply mine your own fuel if there is an ice belt in the system. All you need to do in that case is haul industrial trade goods in. Since each race’s POS uses a different type of isotope to fuel the shield, this is only really useful if your POS is of the right race for the type of ice you are planning on mining.
Be aware that ice refines at 100% efficiency at a POS refinery if you have a good level in refining, compared to a much lower yield for refining in stations. Even the worst POS refinery will refine ice at 100% and it only needs to be online for a few hours while you are refining, so you can keep it offline when not in use to save CPU. This means that it is possible to run a small POS as an ice refinery.
Security ratings for the systems you use are a bit of a non-issue. A POS can only be placed in a system that is below a true security rating of 0.4. The exception is that you can place one as far up as 0.7 if you have good enough standings with the faction that hold sovereignty in the system. These ‘high sec’ structures cannot run reactors or mine materials and are used for supplementing factory and laboratory services in your area, as well as for use as bases of operation in systems without stations. However, without moon mining and reacting to bring in cash, a POS in a high security system is a hard one to make profitable.
WHERE TO SELL PRODUCT
As everyone knows, the centre of trade in the EVE universe is currently Jita. With POS products, from raw materials to intermediates and all the way to complex materials or even Tech II components, should you choose to build them, Jita’s marketis the throbbing hub of trade. Indeed, wherever in the universe you produce your product, selling in Jita is your best bet. A close second would be Oursulaert, where a lot of the Tech II producers and component suppliers purchase their materials if the Jita market is scarce and where some producers are based. So making those few extra jumps to Oursulaert could prove profitable as well.
The ideal situation for many, however, is to get a sale contract. Many people will buy some or all of your product at the source or at the nearest 0.5 or above system to your POS network, minimising the work you have to do. Some others will pay above the market value for you to move it straight to their home base and sell it to them there. Often they are looking for a discount over market prices but a good buyer or heavy Tech II producer will offer more than market value for your products, knowing that a regular product keeps their industrial operation running consistently and smoothly.
To make the big money with a POS, you have to keep your operation running as efficiently as possible. This means lowering fuel costs and initial investment, maximising sale prices and minimising time and effort spent. Luckily, there are a lot of tricks to keeping your operation efficient, both in profit and time.
The single biggest key to efficient moon mining operations has to be using Caldari large towers. There is no doubt about this one – Caldari towers are simply all-round better for industry due to their massive CPU load. This is because all industrial modules, such as reactors, refineries, silos, etc use a large amount of CPU. The Caldari large tower, specifically, has enough CPU that it can do something no other tower can – successfully run both a simple and a complex reaction on the same tower. In fact, a medium Caldari POS could feasibly run a complex reaction using coupling arrays to feed it and collect materials, though this would need to be attended to every 15 hours.
Setting up near a station or outpost will dramatically cut down hauling, as you can hire a freighter to go from there to Jita and back for fuel and selling product. In addition, a common operations strategy is to simply empty the silos daily into a corporate hangar array, then haul it all to a station once a week. This drastically minimises hauling. Since all of my setups use 100% of the available CPU, not leaving any room for a corporate hangar array, I keep one anchored but offline. You can take items out of it when it is offline but you can only put items into it when it’s online. Therefore, the only times when I need it online are when I am emptying the silos into it, in which case the silo is offline and not using CPU. In that way, I technically have enough CPU spare to use the corporate hangar array.
There are also a good number of ways to cut your fuel bills and thus increase profit. If you set up your POS in 0.0, say as part of an alliance, you can claim a sovereignty bonus. A POS in a system in which your alliance has sovereignty benefits from a 25% reduction in fuel usage. That translates directly to increased profit and reduced fuel hauling. However, the risk of hauling in and out of 0.0 may make it no longer worthwhile. Thus, be sure to consider the pros and cons carefully.
EFFICIENCY – COUPLING ARRAYS
These misunderstood little silos are all-too often misused. New POS engineers will assume they must put one between their miner and silo or their reactor and silo. The intended use is that they be placed in those positions so that when the silo is offline, product is temporarily stored in the coupling array so that it isn’t lost. The reality is that these are nothing more than tiny silos and you can simply omit them from the setup and link miners and/or reactors straight to the silos.
If your POS cycles while the silo is offline, however, one hour’s worth of product is lost. There is a trick to that too. Simply remove some of your fuel so you have less than 24 hours worth, and wait for your POS to mail you saying it has low fuel. The time on the mail will be the time your POS cycles. If you remember that time and simply make sure you don’t have the silo offline for emptying during that time, you won’t miss any product. A better use for coupling arrays is to link two together. They can hold approximately 15 hours of product each for a total of 30 hours. If you empty your silos daily, this won’t be a problem and the CPU saved by using a double-coupler instead of a silo can make some very efficient and tight setups work. At 155 CPU per coupler and 500 per silo, you save 190 CPU by using a double-coupler instead of a silo.
Another fuel saver is to simply keep modules offline when not in use. Offline modules don’t use any CPU or powergrid. While not advised for 0.0 POS, you may be able to get away with setting up guns on your POS but keeping them offline. If you are online when an attack occurs, you can quickly switch them back on. This comes with a great deal of risk and I personally do not advise it if your POS is not in Empire space.
Meanwhile, modules such as the corporate hangar array and ship maintenance array can be run for free by switching them online only when needed. They will only contribute to fuel usage if they are online when the POS makes its hourly cycle.
Another way to minimise time is to have an alternate character in your corporation and stationed at the POS with the required roles to switch modules on and offline and with access to the hangar. They can empty the silos daily in a matter of minutes and with zero travel time. If you place the silos next to the hangar array, they need nothing more than a shuttle to do so, too. And if there is fuel in the hangar and it is close enough to the tower, you can even top the fuel up that way.
When people think of POS defences, they think guns. Lots of guns. This isn’t necessarily the best solution. While a good gun setup is effective at taking out Battleships, Cruisers, Frigates and all their Tech II equivalents, it’s not so hot against Dreadnoughts. The issue is siege mode. A Dreadnought in siege mode is immune to Electronic Warfare and has an insanely large bonus to its tank.
When setting up guns, there are two main avenues of thought. A well-rounded setup including a mixture of small, medium and large gun arrays is a popular choice. The idea is to be able to destroy anything Battleship-sized or smaller. The downside is that it’ll be pathetically weak against a Dreadnought and won’t make a dent if it’s in siege mode.
Another common tactic is to load as many large guns as the powergrid will allow. The idea here is to maximise the damage dealt to Dreadnoughts. It may have about a 50% chance to destroy one before it gets into siege mode and its tank kicks in. It can achieve a large amount of damage with Amarr towers and an absolutely massive amount with Minmatar towers, given their special bonuses.
In the past I have seen Frigate swarms fly around starbases to waste the ammo so that a larger siege force could come in unharmed. It’s worth mentioning that a Frigate swarm would give any Dreadnought time to enter siege mode and turn on its tank, at which point they would be pretty much invulnerable to anything an unassisted POS can output. Therefore, I believe that the idea of fitting a large number of large guns is ineffective.
Some more effective methods of defence, in conjunction with a good, well-rounded gun setup, include heavy webbing, scrambling and ECM. Fitting a large number of webbers will make a Frigate fleet a lot less effective as they get popped by your small guns. The scramblers ensure they can’t get away. ECM serves a useful purpose, especially on a Caldari tower. ECM modules have a guaranteed jamming rate on any ship, making them a very powerful but limited resource.
MAKE THEM PAY
It is my firm belief that the best way to defend a POS is to make it not worth the effort for the attacker. To do this, you need to first increase the cost and risk to the attacker. The first step is to force your opponent to have to use Dreadnoughts in siege mode. This is easily achieved by putting up a defence force that Battleships and smaller ships cannot stand up to. A mixture of small, medium and large gun arrays and webbers will work. Scramblers will force them to face the reality that any ship that goes in bar a sieging Dreadnought will explode. This combo is often enough to put them off. Add some ECM and you have a tidy setup.
Note that Dreads are immune to ECM when in siege mode, making it possible to force Dreads to use siege mode against even medium towers with well set-up ECM and guns. Ideally, Caldari towers are used here for the ECM cycle speed bonus.
The next step is to increase the cost of their siege. Now that they are using Dreadnoughts, they will consume strontium clathrates to maintain siege mode. This means that the longer the siege continues, the longer they will be expending strontium and the more ISK they burn. This can be increased by running shield-hardening arrays to increase the POS’ shield resistances. Also, the Caldari tower has the most shield hit points, at fifty million.
Every minute that the enemy has a Dreadnought fielded is a minute they risk losing a ship worth several billion ISK to a well-planned counter-attack. The key is to keep enemy Dreadnoughts engaged for as long as possible as you plan a co-ordinated counter-attack.
DEFENCE – HITTING THE PAUSE BUTTON
Your primary line of defense will not be your guns. In fact, if someone resolves to destroy your POS, has the resources to hand and can field Dreadnoughts in siege mode, your guns will not help unless you turn up during the siege. Your primary line of defense is strontium clathrates – it’s ironic that the same thing the Dreadnoughts will be using to tear your POS down will help to keep it up.
This acts as a sort of ‘pause button’ to give you time to react. Your POS fuel tank can hold strontium clathrates. Should the shield be reduced to 25%, it will go into reinforced mode and start consuming the strontium. In reinforced mode, your POS is invulnerable but it cannot regenerate shield, and no modules which require CPU will work. Guns which only require powergrid will work fine. Despite the official word that they consume fuel at an accelerated rate in reinforced mode, they actually only consume the strontium clathrates.
The purpose of strontium is to give you some time to get a force together. If the enemy comes back once your POS comes out of reinforced mode, you should be ready for him. If he doesn’t, the shield will regenerate. You can also use remote shield boosters once out of reinforced mode.
From the smallest corps right up to the huge corporate monsters and alliances, moon mining can be a very profitable industry that, unlike other things in EVE, can make you plenty of ISK while you sleep. If you follow the advice in this guide, you too can join the long line of corporations with their very own automatic ISK printing machine.