Belthazar's Guide to Asteroid Mining

Escape Velocity Nova

Still Under Construction

"I love mining, It's the ultimate go between a shuttle and a better ship, like a valk or starbridge..."
-- Captain Azdara

"You've put together a great guide... one so good, in fact, that I'm going to go home tonight and start asteroid mining!"
-- Dave Williams, aka pipeline


1. Introduction
2. Kicking Off - What Do I Need to Start Mining?
3. Between a Rock and a Hard Place - What do I Mine?
-- 3.1 Normal Asteroids
-- 3.2 Water Asteroids
-- 3.3 Metal Asteroids
-- 3.4 Opal Asteroids
-- 3.5 Other Asteroids
4. Biting Off More Than You Can Chew - Cargo Space, Escorts and the Like

5. Appendices
-- 5.1 Flying Around with the Greatest of Ease - Which Ship Should I Use?
-- -- 5.1.1 Asteroid Miner
-- -- 5.1.2 Standard Ships
-- -- -- Shuttle / Heavy Shuttle
-- -- -- Cargo Drone
-- -- -- Terrapin
-- -- -- IDA Frigate
-- -- -- Thunderhead
-- -- 5.1.3 Sigma Ships
-- -- -- Starliner
-- -- -- Pegasus
-- -- -- Leviathan
-- -- 5.1.4 Federation Ships
-- -- -- Federation Viper
-- -- -- Federation Anaconda
-- -- -- Federation Scout Ship
-- -- -- Federation Patrol Boat
-- -- -- RAGE Gunboat
-- -- -- Federation Destroyer
-- -- -- Federation Carrier
-- -- 5.1.5 Rebellion Ships
-- -- 5.1.6 Auroran Ships
-- -- -- Argosy
-- -- -- Enterprise
-- -- 5.1.7 Polaran Ships
-- -- -- Sprite
-- -- -- Cambrian
-- -- -- Manta
-- -- -- Striker
-- -- -- Zephyr
-- -- -- Dragon
-- -- -- Arachnid
-- -- -- Scarab
-- -- -- Raven
-- -- 5.1.8 Vell-os Ships
-- -- 5.1.9 Pirate Ships
-- -- -- Pirate Thunderhead
-- -- -- Pirate Argosy
-- -- -- Pirate Enterprise
-- -- -- Manticore
-- -- -- Pirate Carrier / Unrelenting
-- 5.2 The Most Bang for your Buck - Which Weapon Should I Use??
-- -- 5.2.1 Fixed, Swivel and Turreted Weapons
-- -- -- Mining Laser
-- -- -- Blaster
-- -- -- Railgun
-- -- -- Chaingun
-- -- -- Fusion Pulse Cannon
-- -- 5.2.2 Beam Weapons
-- -- -- Thunderhead Lance
-- -- -- Ion Cannon / Ionic Particle Cannon
-- -- -- Polaron Cannon
-- -- -- BioRelay Laser
-- -- -- Capacitor Pulse Laser
-- -- -- Flower of Spring
-- -- -- Summer Bloom
-- -- -- Autumn Petal
-- -- -- Winter Tempest
-- -- 5.2.3 Missile Weapons
-- -- -- Raven Rocket
-- -- -- IR Missile
-- -- -- Hellhound Missile
-- -- -- EMP Torpedo
-- -- -- Wraith Cannon
-- -- -- Polaron Torpedo/Multi-Torpedo
-- 5.3 All Dressed Up and Nowhere to go - Where is the Best Place to Mine?
-- -- 5.3.1 Full List
-- 5.4 The Crux of the Matter - Where is the Best Place to Sell?
-- -- 5.4.1 Water
-- -- 5.4.2 Metal
-- -- 5.4.3 Opals
-- 5.5 The Brains of the Bunch - Advanced Mining Tactics

Addendum: Mining in the Polycon TC

1. Introduction

Kel'ar IySo you want to be an asteroid miner? You've come to the right place. Welcome to Belthazar's Guide to Asteroid Mining in Escape Velocity: Nova. For those of you who have managed to wander in from the outside, and thus don't have the slightest clue what I am going on about, EV Nova is a really great game by Ambrosia Software. This page is a work in progress, and is intended to help those playing EVN (especially those in the Web Board) and intending to mine asteroids for a living. If you would like to contribute to this page, my e-mail address is - any input is appreciated.

For those of you who couldn't really be bothered reading my nice shiny guide, here's How to mine asteroids in fifteen words or less - thanks to ArcAngel Counterstrike of the Webboard for that one.

This is what the EV Nova Bible has to say on the subject of mining: 501-504 are the spïn resource numbers assigned to mini-asteroids for mining. That's it. Oh, all right; there's a whole heap more on asteroid resources, as in setting what minerals come out of asteroids, and how much of them, and how many smaller pieces they break into, but that's not really about mining, and it doesn't really help a prospecting prospector. This is what the EV Nova Documentation has to say on the subject of mining: .......................... That's right, nothing. So after the 50th person in the Nova Webboards desperately trying to describe what kind of asteroids put out opals, I decided it's time someone posted images instead of a description, and all this just grew from there. All images appearing on this page are to scale (I didn't shrink any of them, only cropped from a screenshot).

So, why be an asteroid miner? Firstly, it's a good way to get money without any cost, other than an initial outlay of 10,000 credits, and assorted escort fees if you desire to hire escorts. This is where it differs from trading - in order to trade, you need to buy the commodities you wish to trade, unless by "trading", you mean "plundering other ships and selling the commodities they have on board". That is not trading. That is piracy (look it up if you don't believe me). Piracy also gets you money without any cost, but the initial outlay is higher, and it tends to make people angry with you. Admittedly, mining can be more time consuming than trading, but I believe it's worth it. Secondly, it gets you a lot of money without any cost. According to Zero Gravitas on the Nova Webboards, "mining 'roids yields linear increase in money. Trading yields exponential growth - at least until you've got 6 leviathan escorts and are maxing out to cargo space on every run. Therefore, mining is only suitable as a trade early in the game to build up some initial cash when trading offers little profit." I don't believe this is true. By his reasoning, both mining and trading yield an exponential increase in money (he just doesn't say as much) - mining can take a little longer, but the profit margin can be enormous: in the region of 30 million credits per run. Thirdly, Tiresmoke of the Boards makes the very good point that "for rookie pilots, asteroid mining does help to improve flight skills and ship/weapons handling much more than cargo runs. It would be a nice touch if that would have been included in the intro scenario [with Barry], even if you only mined some ice." Mining helps one to aim fixed weapons without the help of the autopilot and the targeting system (which can be handy for fighting those enemies who keep cloaking), to fly one's ship in real space while turning, aiming and accelerating, to improve one's speed on the keyboard controls, and even (in a way) to teach one in a risk-free way how to hire escorts and how to ration money so that your escorts don't abandon you. And lastly, blowing those little guys up is just so much fun. I once spent an hour doing that, and I never even noticed the time passing, since I was having so much fun.

In short, this is how to mine:
1. Blow up asteroid with guns.
2. Scoop up minerals by flying over them.
3. Sell minerals on a planet.
That's basically it. It gets a little more complicated when you look more closely, so here goes:

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2. Kicking Off

What Do I Need to Start Mining?

Asteroid ScoopIn essence, all you really need is an Asteroid Scoop, shown at the left. These can be bought at any good outfitters across the galaxy. One of these little gizmos will enable you to scoop up the minerals which you liberate from the asteroids on your murderous rampage through some given stellar system. (I mean, really. What's the point in just leaving them to float around?) As I'm sure you've noticed, the newly freed minerals quickly vanish if you don't snap them up. According to the outfit description, it's a form of ramscoop which is designed to scoop up asteroidal debris. The Asteroid Scoop costs 10,000 credits and weighs 5 tons - light enough to be installed on even a shuttlecraft.

Mining LaserTo actually destroy the asteroids, pretty much any weapon will do (see Appendix 2 for more on that line). However, at most places where you can find the Asteroid Scoop, you can also find this Mining Laser, shown at the right. This is a weapon specifically designed to destroy asteroids with a minimum of fuss. It doesn't knock the asteroids out of the way when you try to fire, and I have a sneaking suspicion it's faster to destroy asteroids than some of the other weapons (and it is - it has a 10x multiplier against asteroids). It's definitely cheaper and lighter, costing 10,000 credits, and weighing only 3 tons, but I don't think it does much damage to enemy ships. Despite being a secondary weapon, each Mining Laser will take up one of your gun slots, and it has quite a short range (barely two centimeters on my screen), so given that it isn't absolutely required in order to mine asteroids, I'd advise against stocking up on them if you are likely to come under attack (or are intending to attack others). The Asteroid Miner comes equipped with a Scoop and four Lasers, but more on that later.

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3. Between a Rock and a Hard Place

What do I Mine?

There are four different classes of asteroid (of which each class has a variety of different sizes) but only three types of minerals ever pop out of them - water, metals and opals. Naturally, this means that most of the asteroids you will bump into (or more correctly, fly over) don't contain anything at all. Happily, you can tell the asteroids apart by sight - as you get better at it, you learn to identify the asteroids at a glance. If you're only after a specific type of mineral (opals sell at quite a high price, but are not so easy to find) then that's a good skill to learn. When you blast the asteroids apart, little blobs come out - these are the minerals which you then pick up with the scoop, by flying over them. You can identify the blobs by sight as well. When you shoot a mineral-bearing asteroid, it usually splits into some blobs, some dust, some smaller mineral-bearing asteroids, and some smaller normal asteroids, but it varies somewhat, depending on some random probability - mineral-bearing asteroids will pop out a given number of blobs, +/-50% (according to the Bible). Some asteroids put out more minerals than others do (and sometimes you can get a real motherlode of an asteroid, with 75 or more tons of minerals in that asteroid alone, provided you don't let any of the bits get away). It's slightly counterintuitive, but the asteroids that produce the most smaller mineral-bearing asteroids also produce the most blobs at the same time. More on this in the Advanced Tactics section. I think I've managed to get an image of every single type of asteroid, but it's no big deal if I've missed some of them - all of the asteroids in one class are pretty much the same colour, so you should still be able to spot them.

--- 3.1 Normal Asteroids
-- 3.2 Water Asteroids
-- 3.3 Metal Asteroids
-- 3.4 Opal Asteroids
-- 3.5 Other Asteroids
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3.1 Normal Asteroids
These are the normal asteroids - they are by far the more common type. When you destroy them, all you get is asteroidal dust. Mind you, that doesn't mean it's not fun to go blasting them apart. (All asteroids produce dust and crumbs when you vaporise them, but some produce minerals as well) Asteroidal dust can be seen above, to the far right. The dust comes in varying shades of brown or grey.

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3.2 Water Asteroids
WaterWaterWaterWaterWater blobs
The water asteroids are probably the next most common ones you will find, and they are all white. The really big asteroid on the left was photographed (I want to know why they still use cameras and photographs for espionage so far into the future) in the Rochak Dust Field, deep in Auroran space. There, dodging countless attacks by Houseless warriors, I managed to snap some pictures of some of the largest asteroids known to man - ah, the lengths I go to for you people. The giant one on the far left above produces an average of about 40 to 50 tons when fully mined (as in, not letting any of the bits escape); the merely large one, about 25 tons; the medium one, about 15 tons; and the little tichy one only 5 tons. The free-floating blobs of water (the very right hand image above) are also white. It's usually quite logical where to sell water. Water sells for about 375 or so credits per ton at the upper end of the scale.

Hint >>try a desert planet<<
Hint II >>Haven in the Aldebaran system is not a desert planet - being an ocean planet, you can buy water cheaply there<<
Hint III >>Lodestone in the Fire system is a desert planet<<
Solution >>sell your water at Lodestone (among other places, which I'll leave you to work out for yourself)<< <-- if you needed that hint, you need help =)

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3.3 Metal Asteroids
MetalsMetalsMetalsMetalsMetal Blobs
These are the ones I think of as the carbonaceous chondrite type, since they look like I think chondrite asteroids would look - and if you know what I'm talking about, then you're as geeky as I am. As you can see above, they're almost perfectly spherical, and kind of shiny (which is unsurprising, since they contain much metal). The amount of metal in each size is pretty much the same as for the water asteroids - that is, 40, 25, 15, and 5. Blobs of metal (ingots?) are a kind of tanny-browny colour, as you can see above. Metal sells at a higher price than water. I've never actually found a system (other than S7evyn) where one can sell metal for a high price, but Earth in Sol buys it for 200 credits per ton, and that's medium. Since metals are one of the standard commodities, you can sell it pretty much anywhere (just not always for a good price).

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3.4 Opal Asteroids
OpalsOpalsOpalsOpalsOpal Blobs
Here we are, the upper end of the scale. Opal asteroids are the rarest around, but they also sell for the highest prices. Opals are mined in Coober Pedy, Australia - in fact, Australia contains the largest opal mines in the entire 21st century world. In the future, however, opals can be found floating around freely in asteroids. Opals selling low can go for 960 per ton, and opals selling high go for a crispy 1500 credits per ton. The opal asteroids are quite a similar colour to the metal asteroids, but they're not as shiny, and are lumpier. Opal blobs are generally darker than metal blobs, but it can sometimes be hard to tell.

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My favourite route for Opals is Formalhaut to Lotus (thanks to Slagblah for pointing out the Lotus part of it) - the planet named Gem made me think of looking for opals in Formalhaut, and whaddaya know? There they are. Opals sell low on Gem, and high on Serenity (in the Lotus system) and it's only four jumps between them. More on this in the Advanced Tactics section.

Serenity in the Lotus systemMapGem in the Formalhaut system
This is Lotus in the Serenity systemThis is not an opal asteroid... don't shoot it. It is Gem in the Formalhaut system.

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3.5 Other Asteroids
Fed Patrol Boat
This is not an asteroid - don't shoot it, because it gets mad. United Shipping ships also get mad. And Traders. Don't let other ships get caught in the crossfire, unless you can handle people not liking you. (I learnt that the hard way). If those Feds keep irritating you by buzzing around your ears, you can fix that by leaving your escorts sitting somewhere and flying far, far away. The Feds will fly back and forth between you and your escorts, thus giving you plenty of time to mine in between.

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4. Biting Off More Than You Can Chew

Cargo Space, Escorts and the Like

It's pretty obvious to say that the more cargo space you have, the more you can hold per trip, and so the more money you can make. There are a couple of ways to get more cargo space. The first is to buy a ship with lots of cargo capacity. The second is to upgrade a ship with lots of weapon space (with cargo retools and the like). The third is to hire or capture some escorts. I'll discuss the relative methods of each type of ship in Appendix One, but if one is to hire escorts, then one must take into account the money you are spending. There's nothing worse than an escort running off with 1.5 million credits worth of opals just because you didn't pay him enough on the trip to where you're going to sell the minerals. (That's one reason why mining in Formalhaut is so good - if you don't have enough money to make it to Lotus, you can just land on Gem and sell some of the opals for a lower, but still quite respectable price.) To tell you the truth, the above is really just common sense - it doesn't just apply to mining.

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Continue to the Appendices


All images copyright Ambrosia Software, but they won't sue me for using them here... I hope
Web page created by Joel Alexander (aka Belthazar) -

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