- 1 A Beginner’s Guide to Low-Sec Mining
- 2 GET ON WITH THE MINING PART ALREADY!
- 3 Parting thoughts
A Beginner’s Guide to Low-Sec Mining
So, you want to move into low-sec space and start mining – good on ya, mate! The first thing to know is that low sec space is any system with a security rating of 0.1 – 0.4. There are a few key things that you need to understand about low sec to understand how to keep your ships longer and get more of your cargo to market or industry stations. Yes, low sec is dangerous space, but there is no reason whatsoever that you can’t make ISK out here, get the materials you need, and have a good time doing it. All it takes is a little attention to detail and a small amount of patience and you’ll be fine. And remember, if in doubt, warp out!
This document is an outline of what I have learned mining in low-sec space in my time in Eve. It is NOT an exhaustive list and I make no claim to be the ultimate authority on low-sec mining, but since I was not able to find much information about it when I started, I wanted to share what I’ve learned. Learn the basics first, then the rules, then put that knowledge to use while actively thinking about what you are doing. Only then will you truly understand when to break the rules and why. Remember, you are the only player who has your skills, understanding, experience, ships, fits, and goals in the game, which makes you the only one who can make the best choices for you.
Lastly, regardless of what it sounds like, once you understand how things work in low sec, you will be able to mine with minimal risk, so please, DON’T PANIC! as you read through this. Remember, low sec space has ores that are hard to come by in high sec space, better quality ice belts, and many other perks - once you get familiar with it, you’ll wonder why you waited so long to mine out here.
A few key differences between High and Low sec space:
- There is no CONCORD in low sec space
If you have spent a lot of time in high sec mining, you’ll know that ganks do happen, but not all that often. A lot of people in high sec go AFK while mining despite the risk, and they often get away with it, because CONCORD will show up at some point - they think that all they need to do is survive the assault until help arrives. If you are attacked in low sec space, you are on your own, unless someone you know is nearby and willing to help you, so keep your eyes open and your d-scan active.
- People are actively hunting you
As noted above, you should not go AFK in high sec space, but people still do. Don’t go AFK in low sec space, mining or flying; just don’t do it! If you need to step away, dock up. There are many NPC stations in low sec space that are open to all, and you will still have a ship when you come back if you dock in one. The same cannot be said for sitting in a ‘safe spot’ in space – people will scan you down and blow up your ship.
- Not all player owned stations will allow you to dock
In high sec space, it seems that most stations are open to the public, but in low sec, you may find that the only Player-owned stations (POS) that you can dock in are those of your corporation or alliance. There are quite a few NPC stations in low sec space that you can dock in, but they are not as common as they are in high sec. As you move around in low sec space, bookmark stations that you can access so you can find them quickly if needed.
- Always keep an eye on d-scan and local chat!
When I first started playing, I heard so many people say, ‘Use d-scan!!’ but I never heard anyone explain how to use it effectively, so I’m going to tell you how I use it and hopefully that will get you started. Once you feel like you understand how it works, do whatever works for you, but at least learn how it works and how to use it, rather than blindly following someone’s directions (including mine!) There is a whole section below on d-scan where I go into how I use it. It’s not hard to use and it will save your ship at some point.
- The rats are stronger than in high sec space
Low-sec rats are more powerful than high sec rats, so be prepared to have to fight harder and occasionally warp out. Some can be ‘speed tanked’ – orbiting your rock at high speed so that the rats can’t hit you, others can be killed by T2 drones if you are patient, most can be taken out by a destroyer docked at a nearby base. Dock up, swap ships, kill rats, return to mining – simple as that.
Special note: Clone Soldiers:
These are very strong rats that you will need to warp away from – they are unlikely to be taken down by your drones and they can deal some serious damage to a mining ship in a short amount of time. In addition, they can attract powerful gankers who are hunting for tags. The best policy, until you develop your own method, is to simply warp to another belt and continue mining there.
What is d-scan and why is it important?
D-scan is like a ‘radar’ scan of local space – it will show you whatever objects are within a certain distance from your ship at the time you scan. Like your Overview, d-scan is very flexible – it will allow you to make custom views to filter out things that you don’t want to see cluttering up your display, like wrecks, so you can focus on scanning for potentially hostile ships. I’ll get into more detail later in this document, but for now, you should learn how to use it defensively, because it will be one of your main tools when mining in low sec space.
Using d-scan defensively:
There are a LOT of ways to use d-scan, but for the purpose of this article, I am going to focus solely on the defensive use of d-scan. Press the V key to open the d-scan window and perform a scan – unless you have changed it already, you will now be looking at the solar system and you will have the d-scan window on one side.
If the d-scan window is in the solar system window, look at the d-scan portion of the window. In the upper right you should see a small box with a dot in the center - click that icon to un-dock the d-scan from the solar system map and then close the solar system map window.
While the d-scan window is undocked from the solar system window, you will still be able to see your display – very handy! To dock the d-scan window in the solar system map, simply click the same icon, which will now look like a mostly filled in square. You can now drag the window to a place that won’t block other important controls but where you can still see it clearly. Being able to see it at all times is critical to keeping your ship in low sec (and null sec, for that matter) space.
Look at the bottom of the d-scan window – there are two sliding bars and a button:
- Range: this is how far you want your d-scan to look
- Angle: this is the area you want your d-scan to cover
- AU: this will switch between AU and km distances. Personally, I find the AU setting to be the most useful, but you do you, as they say.
Adjust the d-scan settings:
- Slide the “Range” slider all the way to the far-right side – it should now show “14” This means that you are d-scanning 14 AU from your ship.
- Slide the “Angle” slider all the way to the far-right side – it should now show 360*, meaning that you are scanning in all directions around your ship.
There are many ways to use d-scan, but for mining purposes, this is the way that I find I can detect threats because it shows you who is able to see you on their d-scan and it shows you when combat probes are in space near you. You may find that you prefer to have the range smaller, and that’s fine, but if you are unsure what is best, start with it all the way out to 14 AU and then adjust it until you find what works best for you.
Press the V key and watch the display update. Remember, your d-scan will only update when you click the “Scan” button or press the key that is bound to d-scan. You can change the key bindings for d-scan (or most other game functions) if you like, but I will reference the defaults in this document so that it doesn’t get confusing for anyone using the default settings.
Get in the habit of scanning regularly while you have any other pilot in local. That way you will be able to tell if anyone lands near you or if they put out combat scanner probes. The goal is to have a regularly updated view of everyone who can see you on their d-scan so you don’t get surprised when someone warp scrambles and/or webs you while you are focused on mining.
Key parts of the d-scan window:
- Category of ship (corvette, destroyer, etc.)
- Name of the ship its pilot gave it – do not trust ship types in this column!
- Type of ship – players cannot change this, so it is always accurate.
- Distance of that object from your position at the time of the scan - this does not update until your next scan.
- Filters currently applied
What to look for in the d-scan window:
Always look at the ship TYPE, not the name. Some people change the name of their ship to something non-threatening, like “Gallente shuttle”, when it is actually something far more dangerous, like a Loki. Don’t be fooled by this simple trick - always look to see what Type of ship you are seeing on your d-scan so you know what you are really looking at.
Watch the distance of any ships in the scan
- “ – “ means that the ship is within d-scan range, but not ‘on-grid’ with you.
- “3214 km” means that that object is 3214km from your ship (i.e., it is ‘“on-grid’ with you) and therefore potentially within striking distance.
Look for combat scanner probes. Combat scanner probes are used to locate ships, as well as drones, MTUs, mobile depots, jet cans, etc. If you see them on your d-scan, someone is looking for ships in your system and you need to be carefully watching your d-scan.
How to use this information:
People hunting miners in low sec space will do any number of things. Here is what I suggest based on what you see in your d-scan, and like anything else in this document, use your own judgment on the best course of action.
- Someone is in local, but you do not see anything on d-scan
In low sec space, you will still see everyone in the area in local, but you may not be able to see them on d-scan. Watch local people with blinking skulls next to their names – those people are either suspect (yellow blinking) or criminals (red blinking) Either way, you want to avoid them if possible. Just because they do not have a blinking skull next to their name doesn’t mean that they will be friendly – in low sec space, assume that everyone is hunting other ships and be on the defensive. Pay close attention to your d-scanning if you see any flashing skulls next to a pilots’ name in local and learn how to color tag known ganker corps and alliances, as well as people with bad or terrible security statuses, using your Overview settings, so you have advanced warning of threats.
- A ship has just landed near you (“on-grid”)
Warp out immediately - DO NOT try to fight them. Even if it is a Venture, warp out. Ventures can easily be used to tackle miners until attach ships can gate in. In low sec mining, anyone who comes to your location is almost certainly capable of pinning you down and destroying your ship. Ventures are fairly quick to warp, but can still be easily killed, and mining barges and exhumers are SLOW to warp. Despite having a large tank, they can be easily worn down and killed since there is no CONCORD on the way to save you.
- A ship is on your d-scan and the distance shows “ – “
Remember, if you can see them, they can see you. That does not mean that they are actively hunting you, but it doesn’t mean they are not hunting you, either.
Keep scanning actively and watch for combat probes or them to land on-grid with you. Your d-scan will only refresh when you use it, so keep scanning so you can tell when they either leave the area or get closer to your location.
- Combat probes appear on your d-scan
First, there are two types probes:
- Scanner probes: These are used to scan down anomalies and cannot detect ships or drones.
- Combat probes: These can scan down anomalies AS WELL AS ships, drones, MTUs, mobile depots, jet cans, etc.
If you see combat probes, someone is scanning down ships in your area. The more probes you see, the closer they are to finding your location. You should be prepared to warp out if any combat probes show up on your d-scan. You should immediately warp off if you see more than 3-4 combat probes with distances other than “ – “. Often, a ganker will recall their probes as they warp, so if you see the probes disappear from your d-scan, you should warp immediately – the longer you wait, the less hope you have of getting away.
Getting away in one piece
Stay ‘soft aligned’ to your warp out spot
This can help speed up the warp process by ensuring that you are already aligned with your destination and only need to get up to speed to hit warp.
- Fly up close to your asteroid or ice cube and stop your ship.
- Select a suitable warp-out object in space in your Overview window.
- Press the A button. Your ship will turn and begin to speed up.
- Stop your ship again.
- You should now be within range of your target while still being aligned to your warp-out point.
Don’t be afraid to warp away
it’s better to burn out than fade away. No, wait, that’s Neil young. It’s better to warp off and waste a little time than lose your ship, as well as the ore you’ve mined. If in doubt, warp out!
Keep your drones docked unless they are fighting off rats
Drones take time to return to the drone bay, and in many cases, you won’t have time to recall them and still escape. If they are out and you need to warp, just warp off. You can always return and get them later and they are highly unlikely to stop a ganker’s attack.
Always watch d-scan!
I can’t say it enough – keep scanning when anyone else is in local. The more warning you have, the more time you have to escape.
GET ON WITH THE MINING PART ALREADY!
Ok, ok, you have a basic understanding of low sec space now, but what about mining there?
Low sec mining sites:
- Ore belts – These are just like in high sec, but they are a mix of high sec and low sec ores. Don’t waste your time on high sec ores in low sec belt.
Just harvest the ores that can only be found outside of high sec since the risk factor is higher here than in high sec.
Watch out for Clone soldiers. These are particularly deadly rats that require more than a mining ship to defeat. If one joins you in a belt, simply warp off to one of the other belts and continue mining.
- Ore anomalies – These are often in your solar system scan (press the P key) and do not require scanning down, but there can be even rarer ore anomalies that appear as ‘cosmic anomalies’ which can be scanned down.
These have much less ore than a standard ore belt.
Can contain; Gneiss, Dark Ochre, Crokite, Spodumain, Hedbergite, Hemorphite, Jaspet, Kernite
Watch out for clone soldiers. These are particularly deadly rats that require more than a mining ship to defeat. If one joins you in an anomaly, it is best to warp off and mine elsewhere unless you have a strong PvE ship you can swap into.
Sleepers can spawn in anomalies. These are much tougher rats than you find in high sec space, so use caution. Depending on your fit, you may or may not be able to take them out with a mining ship. If in doubt, warp out.
- Wormholes – Just like in high sec space, low sec has wormholes, and they often contain ores. Wormholes seem to be more common in low sec than they are in high sec in my experience. Use extra caution mining in wormholes as no one will show up in local unless they type something in chat, so NEVER type anything in chat when you are in a wormhole. There is a great deal to know about wormholes that is not covered here, so do your research before you jump into one.
- Gas sites – these can appear in low sec space but will need to be scanned down to access like any other anomaly. Gas tends to be very profitable, and it can regularly be found in low sec space.
Gas clouds are often large and may occur in groups of 1-3.
Gas requires special equipment to harvest.
Gas is highly sought after, so use extra caution when you are in a gas belt – you are more likely to have visitors in a gas belt than other low sec locations.
Low sec mining process:
The process of mining in low sec is generally the same as in any space; locate the ores, mine them, take them to a station or the market. The big difference is that in low sec, if you are flying a slow ship, you are more likely to lose it than you would be flying the same ship in high sec. Low sec gankers actively seek out mining barges like Covetors and Retrievers and these ships are almost certain to be ganked if they fly into low sec space. Please do not use these ships in low sec unless you feel that you truly know what you are doing and are willing to gamble your ship. It is common in low sec for small roaming gank fleets to land on a barge, pin it down, and blow it up in moments. There is no point in having an extra large ore hold if you can’t get them to a station.
Ships and fits
- Venture (The best ship for learning to mine in low sec, hands down)
Ventures are often better than other mining ships in low sec space, especially when you are first starting to mine in low sec. Why?
Because they have a built-in +2 to warp stability, which means that in most cases, you will be able to avoid being warp scrambled if you get caught off guard.
Ventures can fly two light defensive drones, which gives you a little more ability to handle common rats
Ventures are also cheap to build, buy, and fit with standard T1 mining equipment, so if you lose one you have lost very little, and with even a single hold of ore safely returned to the station you are ISK positive! Woot! If you are new to low sec mining, this is the ship for you.
Pros: Low cost, +2 warp stabilization, 2 light scout drones, bonuses to mining ores and gas, anyone can fly one.
Cons: Little tank, no cloak, modest warp speed. That said, the kinds of ganker ships you will encounter in low sec space will not be easily damaged by your drones!
Do not try to fight off a ganker in your Venture, simply warp off, wait a couple of minutes for them to get bored and move on, and then return to mining.
The Endurance has bonuses to harvesting ores and ice, so it is a very efficient mining ship if you want to harvest ice. It also can fit a basic cloak without having to worry about the speed penalty. it. And, like the Venture, the Endurance fly 2 light scout drones for defense, which can be useful in handling common rats.
That said, it does not have the Ventures’ +2 warp stabilizer built in! This is a very important tool in low sec mining, so consider whether the loss of a mining upgrade in the low slot is worth it or if it would be better to just fly a Venture.
Endurances also make tempting targets for gankers because they mean a much larger kill mail. Use extra caution flying an Endurance until you feel comfortable doing so. A cloak is not a guarantee of safety – there are many ways to break a cloak, the Endurance cannot warp while cloaked, and you will not be able to cloak up once you have been targeted.
Pros: Can cloak, no speed penalty when cloaked, 2 light scout drones, bonus to ore and ice harvesting.
Cons: High cost, special skills required to fly, large target for gankers, no warp stabilization, cannot warp while cloaked, only one mount for a mining or ice laser.
The Prospect has bonuses for harvesting ores and gas, and it can fit a Covert Ops cloak, which means that you will be able to warp while cloaked. This makes it an ideal ship for “huffing gas” but, be aware that the Prospect cannot use drones, so you will have to handle rats with a different ship or fly away when they land on grid with you. And, like the Endurance, it lacks the warp stabilization of the Venture and makes for a tempting target for gankers.
Pros: Can fit Covert Ops cloaking device, can warp while cloaked, bonuses to ore and gas harvesting.
Cons: High cost, need special skills to fly, no drones, large target for gankers, slower flight speed (speed tanking will not be an option)
Mining barges, and the Procurer in particular, are much sturdier mining ships than the ships we just talked about, but they all suffer from a very slow time-to-warp and dreadfully slow flight speed. If you are new to low sec mining, leave your Procurer or other barge in high sec for the time being and only bring it to low sec space once you feel comfortable with mining here. The AO ship replacement program (SRP) will not cover the loss of your Procurer in low sec space.
Pros: Many drones and drone types, much more efficient mining speed, more tank, bigger hold.
Cons: Cost, special skills needed to fly, very slow warp speed, very slow flight speed, Prized killmail target for gankers..
Much like barges, exhumers are sturdier, can hold more ore, and harvest a great deal faster than Ventures, Endurances, or Procurers. And like barges, they make tempting targets for gankers. Until you feel like you know what you are doing, do not bring your Exhumer to low sec space!
Pros: Many drones and drone types, much more efficient mining speed, more tank, bigger hold.
Cons: Cost, special skills needed to fly, very slow warp speed, very slow flight speed, Prized killmail target for gankers.
- Porpoise and Orca:
That's going to make a really nice killmail for someone...
Picking your spot
When you first start mining in low sec, you need to spend a little time looking around, scouting locations, and trying to find a place where you can mine with less risk. Ideally, you want to look for these things:
- Friendly station(s)
Look for a place to call home. This could be an NPC station or a Player-owned station (POC) where you have docking rights. Remember, not all POCs will allow you to dock! You will want a place to drop your ore/ice/gas between trips, because hauling it back to your high sec base is going to take a lot of time and effort and expose your ship to more risk. You may also like want a place to dock a combat ship for taking out rats that are too strong for your drones, and it should be as near to your mining location(s) as possible. Lastly, it will give you a place to refit your ship, which is especially important if you need to swap between a travel fit and a mining fit.
- Location, location, location!
Look for a system that is not a crossing from high to low sec space (or low to null sec space) These ‘border’ systems often see larger amounts of traffic, so the number of ships passing through those systems while you are mining will be much higher, and more distracting, than a more isolated system. Also consider what you must fly through to get to your location. If you must fly through a system that is regularly gate camped, you might want to reconsider where you are mining in low sec, as there are a large number of systems that you can access that do not have regular gate camps. Once you get the feel for low sec mining you may feel like looking around for a different place to mine that doesn’t fit those criteria, but at the start, considering these things should help you minimize loss and frustration.
- Number of belts
Ideally, you will be able to find a system with at least 3-5 belts. This will allow you to move around if one belt gets mined out or has a clone soldier. If there are only a few belts, you’ll find yourself moving from system to system and that takes time and exposes you to risk at the gates.
- Location of belts
If you can find a system where there are a few belts more than 14AU from the gates, you will not be visible to ships warping from gate to gate. This is a big advantage for a couple of reasons:
- You are harder to track down if someone is looking for miners
- You won’t be distracted by passing ships moving through the system.
- Any ships that show up on your d-scan will be in the belts, so you know that they are searching for something, or someone.
Expanding your operations
Once you have found a nice-looking place, your work is not done!
- Spend some time in your system getting to know the locals. These are the people you will see regularly, and you need to know if they are decent people who might become allies, or if they are gankers looking for trouble. If there is a POS near your system, if you get friendly with the owners, they may allow you to dock at their station. Just remember, never store anything overly valuable in a POS because the owners can revoke your access at any time, with no warning!
- Learn when nearby systems are busy and when they are slow. Eve is a game played around the globe, and the people nearby may play at different times than you. It is good to know when they will be in space, especially if you don’t know them well.
- Learn when there are gate camps in the systems leading into your area. You will eventually travel back and forth through nearby systems, so it is best to learn the patterns of your neighbors, so you know what to expect. You don’t want to learn about a regular gate camp when you are pulling a pile or ores out of your system in a T1 hauler!
- Jump clones: Low sec is usually much easier to get in and out of without needing to use a jump clone than null sec, but in some cases, you might want to install a clone in your station (if you have that option) just for convenience. This is a very personal decision, so think about the costs and benefits when you decide what to do.
- Augmentations: Because there is much more risk to your clone in low sec than there is in other space, you might want to have a dedicated clone with no (or only a few inexpensive) implants so you are not risking a lot of ISK when mining. This is especially important when you are first starting out mining in low sec space. After you are more familiar with the area you might change how you treat your clone, but at the start, it may be best to use a blank clone for mining in low sec space.
- Build your fleet: It is often helpful in low sec to have a small selection of ships at your disposal for different occasions. Having them close will make things a lot easier than constantly going back to high sec to get a different ship.
Ships to consider having locally to your mining spot:
- Scout/Survey ship: A ship that is equipped with a scanner will allow you to scan down anomalies in your system. A heron is a good choice – they are cheap, have good slots, and reasonably common, so you are unlikely to draw too much attention when flying one. They also work well for making bookmarks in places you regularly fly.
- Extra Ventures: These are cheap ships and at first, you are likely to lose them from time to time. Drop a few spares in your local station so you have one ready to use if you need a new mining ship.
- Combat ship: Having something that can easily take out rats is nice to have. This does not have to be anything special; a Cormorant or Catalyst is a good first choice – they are cheap and effective. You might also consider an Assault frigate – these are more expensive and require skills to pilot, but they are more durable and hit harder than destroyers.
- Transport ship: An ore hauler can be useful in getting your ore to market (or your favorite AO industry station) This ship should be fitted with agility modules and shield tank, which will allow it to warp faster and tank damage if it gets caught. A warp stabilizer is also good to have so you have a better chance to get away if someone does try to stop you.
- Shuttle: While you can use a Corvette to get back and forth from high sec to your low sec mining base, a shuttle is faster and cannot be warp-disrupted. Shuttles have a smaller hold than Corvettes, and they cost more (Corvettes are free at any station you can dock in) but shuttles can be much safer to fly.
Thoughts on mining fleets in low sec space:
Fleets are not quite as common in low sec as they are in high sec, at least at the time of this writing. When there is a low sec mining fleet, it is often called a ‘standing fleet’, and will operate slightly differently than the high sec mining fleets you may be used to. A ‘standing fleet’ serves multiple purposes:
- Defense: Fleet chat ensures that the type and location of threats are immediately distributed to all friendly pilots in the area.
- Organization: In the event of an attack, fleet chat can be used to organize a response – gather fighters, group in a safe spot, defend the station, etc.
- Information: The location of ores, gas, ice, etc. can all be posted in the standing fleet, so everyone knows about them. This is especially helpful when there are rare resources, so everyone has a change to help harvest them.
- Communication: Fleet chat will not broadcast information to everyone in the system, like chatting in local. You can safely chat with other friendly pilots in fleet chat without worry that gankers are listening in.
- Mobility: Fleet leaders can warp everyone in the mining fleet to a safe spot in the event of an emergency. This prevents missed communication in chat if immediate evacuation is required to save ships.
As stated in the introduction, this article is intended to help people get started in low sec mining and should not be viewed as comprehensive. Once you get comfortable with low sec mining you will certainly develop your own ideas, patterns, and processes for working in low sec space, but this should at least give anyone interested in low sec mining a reasonably good foundation to work from.
I have found low sec mining to be fun, profitable, and rewarding – all it takes is a little bit of learning and cooperation with your alliance mates! Below are a few further suggestions for living in low sec that will help you, as well as other AO family, make the most out of low sec life in general, as well as mining specifically.
Suggestions for low sec living:
Standing fleets: Get in the habit of starting a standing fleet in your system if there are other friendly pilots in the area. Hand off the role of ‘Boss’ to someone when you leave the area so that the fleet will stay operational, and the person flagged as ‘Boss’ will be able to help manage the fleet once you have “dropped fleet.” Communicate! Tell people about blinking pilots, threats, known gankers, etc. in fleet chat
Encourage others: If you have a good low sec mining spot, tell other AO members about it and encourage them to stop by. Help new miners in your area get started when you can. Instruct anyone who needs help staying safe and mining in the area.
When you lose a ship:
- Don’t be a jerk even if they are - there’s really nothing to be gained by it.
- Tell people – let your mates know who popped your ship so they can keep an eye out for the ganker.
- Don’t take it personally - A lot of people like the PvP aspect of the game and they are not trying to hurt you personally. I mean, yes, a few probably are, but most people did it just because they could, not because they wanted to hurt you personally.
- Learn from your loss - Don't waste the experience, figure out how they got you and learn how to prevent it from happening again.
- Get back in the saddle - Don’t stew over it, just jump in one of your spare ships and start mining again. No! not right there while the ganker is still in the system, I mean in general 😊 Eve is Eve, and losing ships is part of the game. The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you’ll start enjoying the game again.
Fly safe, have fun, do your own thing!
Eve is a sandbox game after all, which means that you can do whatever you like to do and do it your way. Learn from others when you can, learn from your mistakes, understand why you are doing what you are doing, and you’ll be fine. Manny O’Kelly-Davis, EVE University
Think I’m daft? Have no idea what I’m doing? Then, friend, I challenge you to put your ISK where your mouth is and update this document as needed rather than just rant about what’s wrong with it 😊