With mining for fun and profit, as opposed to mining to get materials for manufacture, the key is to get the most money for your time on the mining laser.
How to make sure you are getting the most cash for your mining efforts is not as obvious as you might think. You have to pay attention to all of the details.
When I first saw the surface details, I thought I knew the right answer.
In high security areas (0.5 and above) you get four flavors of asteroids. Each of those four flavors can be refined in lots of 333 units of ore. Each lot of 333 yields a fixed amount of minerals. The four flavors and their yields are:
Veldspar: 1000 Tritanium Scordite: 833 Tritanium 416 Pyerite Pyroxeres: 844 Tritanium 59 Pyerite 11 Nocxium Plagioclase: 256 Tritanium 512 Pyerite 256 Mexallon
The current market prices for the minerals are:
Tritanium 3.30 ISK Pyerite 4.50 ISK Mexallon 35.00 ISK Nocxium 140.00 ISK
These prices are what I have been able to sell minerals for in a reasonable amount of time on the market.
It seems like and easy choice to go mine plagioclase. So that is what I have been doing since I started my mining, hitting the plagioclase asteroids.
And it turns out that, at those prices, it is the right item to mine for maximum value, but not by as much as I thought.
Each of the ore types take up a different amount of space. The rate at which mining lasers and strip miners mine is based on the capacity they can hold, which is an odd mechanic to me. Since the various types of ore come in different sizes, you end up mining them at different rates.
So, for example, a strip miner on my ship, which fills its 540 cubic meter capacity every 3 minutes, harvests, with my current skills and equipment, the following amount of ore with each three minute mining cycle:
Veldspar: 10,662 units Scordite: 7108 units Pyroxeres: 3554 units Plagioclase: 3046 units
So while Veldspar processes into the cheapest mineral, it yields a lot more ore per pass.
The actual size, in cubic meters, for each of the ore types listed here are:
Veldspar 0.1 Scordite 0.15 Pyroxeres 0.3 Plagioclase 0.35
Given the capacity of my hauler, 22,337 cubic meters, and the above market prices, a full load of each ore type have a value of:
Veldspar 2,211,000 ISK Scordite 2,065,542 ISK Pyroxeres 1,960,326 ISK Plagioclase 2,312,781 ISK
Those are gross value amounts, and do not take into consideration that I lose 1% of the minerals as a processing fee and that the broker and tax collector each dun me another 0.6% for the market transaction.
So plagioclase is still the most lucrative ore for me at the moment. I guessed right for once. A shift down in the price of Mexallon, or a continuation of the rise in Tritanium, could change the most lucrative asteroid to common Veldspar pretty quickly.
Veldspar, because of the surge in the price of Tritanium (because of speculation and stockpiling for new ships, as noted at the end of the EVE Economic Blog #2) is being mined quite actively in asteroid belts that I pass through. I have seen several belts cleared of Veldspar, but still full of Plagioclase.
Of course, my real dream now is to mine some Kernite, a low security are asteroid. As I calculate it, a full load of Kernite ore should be worth 4,854,325 ISK before fees and taxes. Not bad for the 20 minutes it takes my Hulk to mine enough for a full load.
All of the information about ore, its size, and what it yields, is in the Complete Miner’s Guide that I have linked in the past, though the charts with the details are scattered throughout the guide. I recommend you take a look at the guide if you plan to start mining.