Ice harvesting is the process of obtaining resources from ice fields (commonly called "ice belts"). This mined ice can then be refined and used to fuel capital ship jump drives, manufacture fuel for player-owned starbases and structure services, and light cynosural fields. Ice harvesting can only be done with specialized modules or drones, and so is generally only performed by the same ships used for regular mining: Mining Barges and Exhumers, Expedition Frigates, Industrial Command Ships, the Rorqual, the Capital Industrial Ship.
Unlike the various ore mining tools, ice harvesting tools always harvest one block of ice (with a volume of 1000 m3) per cycle; because of this, the best method of harvesting ice more efficiently is to decrease the ice harvesters' cycle times.
|A long, long time ago...|
|The Odyssey expansion (June 2013) changed ice mining considerably. Before the expansion, ice belts were permanent features in a system, with thousands of ice asteroids spread over hundreds of kilometers. This was changed to much smaller (10-20 ice asteroids each with 50-200 units of ice) dynamic belts which disappear once mined out, and then respawn four hours later.|
- Reduced attention required by the miner when compared with ore mining.
- Ability to be self-sufficient for POS fuel.
- Easier to mine without a dedicated hauler (longer cycle times mean fewer trips to the station).
- Fun factor of 4-hourly 'Ice Rush' when a belt spawns, as dozens of miners rush in to clear the belt.
- Reduced ISK yield compared to ore mining. While ice commands similar prices to ore, it's not possible to mine ice continuously due to the 4 hour respawn timer on ice belts.
Ice belts can be found in every region of New Eden, but only in specific systems, and each system contains 1-3 ice belts. Ice belts disappear once mined out, and then respawn 4 hours later. This timer remains in force even across downtime; unlike asteroid belts, ice belts will not respawn immediately after downtime, and will instead continue to respawn 4 hours after they were last depleted. Also unlike asteroid belts, ice belts are a type of Cosmic Anomaly, meaning that they will appear in a different location in the star system every time they respawn, and can be found using a ship's onboard scanner, though they do not require scan probes to find.
Like regular asteroid belts, hostile NPCs periodically spawn in ice belts.
As with ore asteroids, each ice asteroid contains one type of ice (so, for instance, an asteroid called "Blue Ice asteroid" will contain nothing but Blue Ice). There are twelve different types of ice asteroids, split into three categories: faction asteroids, enriched faction asteroids, and standard asteroids.
- The ice from faction asteroids (which contain Clear Icicle, Glacial Mass, Blue Ice, or White Glaze) refine to small quantities of Heavy Water, Liquid Ozone and Strontium Clathrates, but large amounts of their respective faction's isotope (Helium Isotopes, Hydrogen Isotopes, Oxygen Isotopes, and Nitrogen Isotopes). Each of these asteroid types is only found in the regions of space controlled by their respective faction (so, for instance, Blue Ice asteroids only spawns in Gallente space, and refine to (amongst others) Oxygen Isotopes, which are used to fuel the jump drives on Gallente ships and to manufacture fuel for Gallente POSes).
- The ice from enriched faction asteroids (which contain Enriched Clear Icicle, Smooth Glacial Mass, Thick Blue Ice, or Pristine White Glaze) works the same way as regular faction asteroids, but contain more of the same materials. These asteroids are only found in nullsec (in systems controlled by their respective factions).
- The ice from standard asteroids (which contain Glare Crust, Dark Glitter, Gelidus, and Krystallos) contains large quantities of Heavy Water, Liquid Ozone and Strontium Clathrates, but no faction isotopes. These asteroids are only found in low-sec and nullsec.
Assuming perfect refining skills (0% waste), ice asteroids refine to the following:
Like asteroid ore, unrefined ice takes up a large amount of space and can therefore be time-consuming to transport. The best sub-capital ship for transporting ice (and ore) is the Miasmos, a Gallente industrial which can transport up to 63,000 m3 (63 blocks, or about two loads from a Mackinaw) of ice. If you need to haul even larger quantities, it may be worth training to fly a freighter (which can hold over ten times as much), or to ship the ice by courier contract.
- See also: Asteroid distribution
Like asteroids and ore, different types of ice spawn based on the racial quarters of space. Faction ice (both normal and enriched) will spawn only in that faction's quarter, while standard ice types are available in all lowsec and nullsec areas with the exception of Dark Glitter, which does not spawn in the Gallente quarter. As with asteroids, more valuable ice spawns at lower security ratings, and each system can spawn all ice types of higher-security systems in the same quarter.
Specific Ice Belts in High and Low Security Space
Specific Ice Belts in Null Security Space
- Enriched Clear Icicle Belt • Pristine White Glase Belt • Thick Blue Ice Belt • Smooth Glacial Mass Belt
Ice harvesting mechanics
- Main article: Mining
Ice mining works in much the same way as ore mining: equip a ship with ice mining modules, approach and target an ice asteroid, and activate the mining module. At the end of each cycle, one unit of ice will be deposited in your ship's cargo or ore hold (despite its name, the ore hold can hold ice too). However (unlike ore mining) ice mining modules can only be fit on Mining Barges and Exhumers, and mining drones cannot be used.
- Main article: Mining skills
The core skill for ice mining is the (appropriately named) Ice Harvesting, which reduces the cycle time of ice mining modules by 5% per level. Train this to level V to use the Tech 2 ice miner. Mining Upgrades is needed to install mining upgrade modules (which further decrease the cycle time of ice miners). Lastly, the Mining Barge and/or Exhumers skills are needed to fly ice mining ships; training higher levels of these skills also decreases the cycle time of ice mining modules (depending on the bonuses of the ship being flown). Since most mining modules are fairly CPU-intensive (and fitting ice mining upgrades only makes this worse), you will probably need to train some fitting skills to take full advantage of your ice mining ship.
Ice harvesting ships
- Main article: ORE Basic Ship and Skill Overview
The Prospect and the Endurance can both fit Ice Mining Lasers, but the Endurance has bonuses that reduce the cycle duration. They are much more maneuverable and can fit cloaking devices, making them well suited to operating in dangerous wormhole space.
Of the three mining barges, only the Covetor has a role bonus to ice mining (25% reduction in cycle time). All three barges have a 2% per level of Mining Barge). The Covetor however, has a fairly small ore hold (7000 m3), and will fill up fairly quickly. The Procurer and the Retriever have a bonus of 2% each and the same ice mining yield, and each ship has a different strength (the Retriever has a very large ore hold, and the Procurer a very tough tank). While all Barges now use two ice harvesters, the Procurer only has two low slots, while the Covetor and Retriever each have three allowing for an additional harvester upgrade. As when using these ships for ore mining, the choice depends on your play style. Flying in a dangerous region of space? Use a Procurer. Want to mine for long stretches without returning to a station? Use a Retriever. Want to get the absolute maximum amount of ice you can? Use a Covetor.
Exhumers are straight upgrades from their Mining Barge counterparts, and the same reflections hold true for them. One small difference is that both the Skiff and the Mackinaw get a smaller (2%) reduction to ice harvester cycle time per level of Exhumers (the Hulk gets a 3% reduction per skill level). The skiff also gets an additional low slot giving all three Exhumer three low slots, unlike it's Barge counterpart the Procurer.
Industrial Command and Capital Industrial Ships
With the release of the Ascension, the Orca, Rorqual, and the newly-introduced Porpoise all have bonuses to ice harvesting drone cycle time. As a result, these ships have become viable ice harvesting platforms post-Ascension.
- Main article: Drones
Ice harvesting drones do exist, and are in fact the only way for the Porpoise, Orca, and Rorqual to harvest ice. However, ice harvesting drones use considerably more bandwidth and drone bay space than their ore mining counterparts (50 vs 5 m3 / Mbit/s), so even ships with the maximum amount of bandwidth (125 Mbit/s) are only able to utilize two at a time. This limits use to Exhumers and the Covetor, which can only field a single drone of this type, the Industrial Command and Capital Industrial Ships, which can use two.
The Rorqual also has access to the powerful ice-harvesting variant of the Excavator drone. Unlike regular ice harvesting drones, Excavators only require 25 Mbit/s of bandwidth, allowing a Rorqual to field a full flight of five. Excavators have phenomenal ice harvesting capabilities, with a cycle time more than 100 seconds faster than normal ice harvesting drones, though they also move at half the speed.
- Main article: Mining yield
In contrast with ore mining, all ice mining modules mine exactly one unit (1000 m3) of ice per cycle; therefore, the only way to increase your mining efficiency is to decrease your modules' cycle time. This can be done by training skills (see above), installing more advanced ice mining and mining upgrade modules, fitting Ice Harvester Accelerator rigs, flying more advanced ships (Exhumers instead of Mining Barges), or using implants (the IH-100x Inherent Implants 'Yeti' Ice Harvesting series). Additionally, if you are in a fleet, you can receive further bonuses through fleet boosts.
While each bonus may seem small, when taken together they can make a significant difference:
As mining ice often turns into a race, with large number of miners competing to mine as much ice before the belt is emptied, having short cycle times can be an advantage beyond simply mining more ice in a given period of time. This allows you to beat your competition to those last few pieces of ice in a belt (as, if two miners are attempting to mine the same asteroid with only one unit of ice left, whoever finishes their cycle first gets that block of ice, and the other gets nothing). Using a survey scanner can be very helpful, as you can see how much ice is left in each asteroid.
Because of the popularity of systems that contain ice anomalies, they have become targets of regular and perpetual ganking activities. The following tactics may be useful in particular by Ice Miners:
- Ensure that once you warp in to a site, you start your ship moving away from the warp in point. This is where gankers are likely to appear.
- Use bookmarks to your advantage. Sensible use of safe spots can make ice mining much safer.
- Make sure you are always moving. Gankers may be tempted by still ships, which may be an indication that the pilot of not at their keyboard.
- Try to be aligned at all times, ideally to your safe spot. Provided you are moving at 75% of your maximum speed you will be able to warp off almost immediately if a ganker appears.
- If you know the names or corporations of local gankers, set them as "terrible" standing in your contacts list. This will ensure that they stand out in local.
- A Newbro's Guide to Ice Mining
- Mining Foreman Revolution, dev blog detailing mining changes in Ascension
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