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Mining - Everything you wanted to know

Mining

This article deals with mining minerals from planetary surfaces through the use of mining complexes. While there are other methods of getting minerals including buying them and exploiting unusual phenomena discovered through exploration and investigation, these methods of obtaining minerals are not covered here.

Basics
A mineral deposit consists of ore in localised amounts sufficiently large and associated with common minerals such that the can be recognised from orbit. They also need to be accessible such that they can be extracted through the use of a mining complex.

A mining complex is little more than a surface shaver that draws in rocks, grinds them down and extracts the ore then processes it in order to become material suitable for use in factories. Beyond a few unusual compounds the specific minerals that form the common ore groups are not specified in order to keep the game playable. As such all the common metals such as iron, magnesium, nickel, copper etc are simply defined as metals. Basic elements on the other hand include many salts and compounds that have greater commercial value in this form rather than reducing them down to metals and non-metals. The same is true of hydrocarbons. This item covers everything from methane right up to crude oils. Unusual minerals that can be used interchangeably in industry are also given a name. Pulac, representing an unusual highly energetic mineral, though like the colour of sapphires, comes in many shades on account of trace minerals within the matrix, though white is the most common variety. While most minerals can in theory be created in laboratories, the cost is phenomenally expensive consequently it is cheaper to send survey ships to distant worlds looking to build outposts to mine them directly from the surface.


Tapping a new source of minerals involves three steps:

  • Finding a world where the mineral is present
  • Determine its location and exploitability
  • Construction of Outpost


Advancing on this there are further options:
  • Decide on mining method
  • Determine if there are sub-deposits
  • Modify deposit parameters through use of technology


Finding a world where the mineral is present through Geological Probability Indicators (GPI’s)
Scanning the surface of a world (‘GPI Planet’ order) from orbit accumulates data on the surface surface geology. Ground penetrating scans also determine what lies below to some degree, which is useful if the surface happens to be covered in ocean, desert or vegetation. This data is then analysed and assayed for the probability of useful minerals existing in the rock matrix close to the surface. Iron oxides for example clearly indicate the presence of iron. For rarer minerals however direct observation of the mineral may not be possible. Diamonds for example are predicted by the detection of kimberlite, ancient volcanic lava pipes.

The technology used by both the sensors and the analysis of the generated data means that quite often the GPI data is sufficient to determine whether the construction of a mining outpost is justified. This is accounted for by the +/- range of the GPI results in a specific sector.

GPI a planet gives the average yield across the entire planet:
Code:
    Scanning for all ores:
Metals (1) Yield = 42.87 +- 11.14
Basic Elements (2) Yield = 29.36 +- 11.14
Hydrocarbons (3) Yield = 12.75 +- 11.14
Thorlium (20) Yield = 12.21 +- 11.14
Rare Earth Elements (22) Yield = 7.02 +- 11.14

Planetary data however is not particularly useful as an average for the entire planet could mean a lot of poor deposits or a few extremely good deposits.
If any of these are some use, it may then be worth either GPI’ing areas or every single sector starting with {1,1}:

Code:
   GPI Sector {1,1}
Scanning for all ores:
Metals (1) Yield = 141.25 +- 5.01
Basic Elements (2) Yield = 11.06 +- 5.01
Hydrocarbons (3) Yield = 3.18 +- 5.01
Thorlium (20) Yield = 7.67 +- 5.01

In this case sector {1,1} does not contain any Rare Earth Elements (22) though they showed up on the planetary GPI scan. It also indicates that as Basic Elements (2) and Hydrocarbons (3) are both well below the average for the world, there are none of these deposits within a few sectors.

Note that when determining the average mineral yield for a sector, it accounts for world wrapping east to west.
N.B. it follows though that a scan planet of an asteroid (1x1) should net effectively the same results as GPI Sector {1,1}.

Determine mineral location and exploitability
As alluded to in the above comment, a mineral deposit exists in a specific sector but can be mined from adjacent sectors. From the data obtained through GPI’ing it is possible to work out the maximums and narrow down where on the planet the actual deposit is situated.

Prospecting
In order to actually exploit a mineral deposit its unique resource ID number is needed. This is used when assigning mines. Getting this number can be achieved via two methods. The first is through prospecting, while the other is by bypassing this stage and simply building an outpost. This is because an outpost will list all the resource ID numbers in the mining report of the manifest. The drawback with this method is that at this stage only the yield of the deposit is known. Prospecting reveals other parameters that govern the exploitability of the deposit.
Example Pulac deposit

Code:
    Pulac (21) detected (Resource ID = 25356)
Yield: 56.24
10% Drop: 8
Quantity: Infinite
Dispersion: 41%
Deep Core Survey: No Sites

Yield is the maximum normal amount of mineral that is extracted per mine per week.
While the quantity of mines assigned to the deposit is less than the 10% drop, each mine will produce the yield. The next multiple of the 10% drop will produce 90% of the yield per mine; the third multiple will produce 80% of the yield per mine.

The quantity refers to how many mu’s of mineral exist in the deposit. This can be somewhat misleading where it is stated as infinite as this indicates that there is at least 20 years of mineral exploitation based on extracting the mineral at about 5 times the 10% drop in quantity of mines. In the above case there is therefore more than 2.5 million mu’s(=20years x 52weeks x 56.24 x 8 x 5).

Dispersion indicates the size of the deposit in adjacent sectors. Multiple sectors separation from the origin is calculated as the dispersion raised to the power of the distance multiplied by the yield, e.g. if 3 sectors the yield for the above deposit will be equal to 3.88(=56.24 x 0.41 x 0.41 x 0.41).

Deep core survey indicates the potential chance that the deposit will have further deposits in the subsurface as explained below.
The example above is not the full picture as all that can be stated is that this is the yield of the deposit in this sector. It could in theory (though unlikely with this yield) that the origin of the deposit is adjacent to this sector and that this yield represents only 59% of the original yield.

Typical Deposits
The table below gives the generic mineral stats for deposits. Note that worlds with weathering such terrestrial worlds often have much lower averages than those described below while active worlds where fresh ores are deposited on the surface through tectonic events are likely to have both greater variety of ores and better statistics (though system created before conversion from BSE to Phoenix rarely follow this logic).

Planets

Ore Type Yield 10% Drop Stock Dispersion
Common 95-140 20 5M 50%
Uncommon 36-44 10 1M 50%
Rare 9-12 5 100k 50%


Moons

Ore Type Yield 10% Drop Stock Dispersion
Common 100-140 20 5M 50%
Uncommon 32-48 10 1M 50%
Rare 11-15 5 100k 50%


The yield range equates to the world classification with increasing average yields descending down the list:
  • Terrestrial
  • Ice
  • Water
  • Dust
  • Crust
  • Cratered
  • Broken
  • Active

Construction of Outpost
Once an outpost has been constructed and mines built, it is simply a case of assigning them to the appropriate mineral resource through the use of the Mine order. Obviously there is absolutely no point in assigning more than ten times the 10% drop to a single mineral deposit and rarely worth assigning more than 5 times the 10% drop.

Decide on mining method
The yield of a deposit represents the standard method of mining. This is the most efficient method, balancing loss of mineral in the slag against the amount of mineral extracted while keeping the operation to a low visibility. There are however alternative methods of extraction.
Strip Mining
The deposit is blasted to pieces with no regard to the location. This method increases yield by focusing the richer areas of the deposit. Poorer areas become part of the slag and as a consequence the stockpile is reduced faster than the amount of ore extracted. The process produces large easily identifiable scars on the landscape and increases base visibility. The process makes deep coring more difficult and has additional environmental effects.

  • +50% yield
  • +5/mine environmental effect (these will be coded later)
  • +2/mine to excavation of deep core sites
  • -25% deposit effective size (for every 100mu mined, the stockpile is reduced by 125m)
  • Mines are 100% visible rather than 10%


Drift Mining
The lines of the deposit are carefully excavated to search for more of the ore. The slag is also further processed in order to remove trace amounts of mineral from bedrock. This extra effort increases deposit size available but reduces yield.

  • -10% Yield
  • +25% deposit effective size (for every 100mu mined, the stockpile is reduced by 80mu)

Open Cast
A large but considered hole is excavated over the deposit in order to allow more mines at the various work faces. This method increases deposit size and 10% drop but makes more visible from space. It also makes deep coring more difficult and has additional environmental effects. [/FONT]
  • +1/mines environmental effect
  • +1/mines to excavation of deepcore
  • +50% to 10% drop size
  • +25% deposit effective size (for every 100mu mined, the stockpile is reduced by 80mu)
  • Mines are 100% visible rather than 10%


Determine if there are sub-deposits
Mention has been made in the above mining methods of deep core mining. The nature of geology is that rock strata rare run smoothly across the surface. Often minerals exist in strata that has been folded through tectonic upheavals and exists in segments of faulted terrain. What was once a single mineral strata laid down on a seabed million of years ago may now be fragmented into multiple fragments, some of which are at the surface but others may be hundreds of metres underground as one side of the fault was raised up and the other pushed down. Part of the strata may even have been turned through ninety degrees so that only a thin line of the mineral is present at the surface.

As a consequence it is possible to investigate a surface deposit and determine if there are subsurface deposits that can be deep core mined. A Deep Core Scan can be conducted from orbit and gives details regarding the world:
Code:
    Scanning Garrius (680) for likely deep core results.
Using best equipment and a skilled officer: Unlikely -> Assured deposits
Using basic equipment and no officer: No Sites -> Excellent deposits


The order of likelihood is as follows from least to most: No Sites, Unlikely, Possible, Moderate, Good, Excellent or Assured.
The
Code:
    Rare Earth Elements (22) detected (Resource ID = 3828)
Yield: 43.58
10% Drop: 10
Quantity: Infinite
Dispersion: 46%
Deep Core Survey: Unlikely

The deep core survey is based on the prospecting skill of the officer and survey equipment present.
Code:
    Deep Coring Rare Earth Elements (22) deposit (ID = 3828):
Prospecting Skill: +0
Survey Equipment Level: +1
No deep core sites discovered.
Basic Survey Rig (2325) expended during deep core survey.

The same site can be scanned again if the skill officer improves or better survey equipment is available. This may give an improved result.
Code:
    Deep Coring Rare Earth Elements (22) deposit (ID = 3828):
Prospecting Skill: +4
Survey Equipment Level: +2
Deep Core Deposits:
Rare Earth Elements (22) detected (Sub ID = 1)
Yield: 41.01
10% Drop: 10
Quantity: 1144837
Instability: Stable
Excavation: 156 mine weeks
Survey Rig mkII (2326) expended during deep core survey.

Where the likelihood of a deep core deposit is high, the possibility of multiple deposits exist.
Code:
    Metals (1) detected (Resource ID = 32471)
Yield: 178
10% Drop: 24
Quantity: Infinite
Dispersion: 54%
Deep Core Survey: Excellent
Deep Coring Metals (1) deposit (ID = 32471):
Prospecting Skill: +4
Survey Equipment Level: +2
Deep Core Deposits:
Metals (1) detected (Sub ID = 1)
Yield: 176.7
10% Drop: 20
Quantity: 5800674
Instability: Stable
Excavation: 215 mine weeks
Metals (1) detected (Sub ID = 2)
Yield: 201.84
10% Drop: 26
Quantity: 5713075
Instability: Minor
Excavation: 581 mine weeks
Metals (1) detected (Sub ID = 3)
Yield: 207.84
10% Drop: 30
Quantity: 6098171
Instability: Stable
Excavation: 219 mine weeks
Survey Rig mkII (2326) expended during deep core survey.

Deep core mining can only use the standard mining method.

Note that all deep core deposits have an excavation parameter. This is how many mine weeks have to be used in order to reach the subsurface deposit. In the above example, if sub ID 3 wanted to be exploited (as it by far the best), 219 mine-weeks have to used in order to reach the deposit. This is simply achieved by assigning mines to the deposit then each maintenance day rather than producing minerals, the excavation time will be reduced by the number of mines assigned (10% drop does not apply). Note that no ore is produced if the mine is still deep coring. If 50 mines are assigned, then in the 5 week, 31 mines though not deep coring, will not produce minerals. Also note that each mine week also require 1 structural module which is automatically removed from the base (lowest mk used first). If insufficient modules are present, the amount of excavation conducted will be reduced appropriately.

Stability refers the possibility of an event occurring during maintenance if the subsurface deposit is being exploited. At this time, this code is not active so there are no dangers.

Modify deposit parameters through use of technology
Surface and subsurface deposits can be modified through the use of technology. For the technology to be used it needs to be tooled in the base where the deposit is being exploited. In many cases where a deposit is upgraded there will be a downside to the modification such that if a deposit is modified in such a way so as to improve its stockpile at the cost of its yield, using further tech to improve its yield at the cost of stockpile will may not be sufficient to generate an overall improvement. As with subsurface deposits described above, all upgrades have an excavation time. This catch-all term simply indicates how many mine-weeks it will take to implement the technological upgrade.

Blueprint Upgrades
Blueprints give modest improvements in a chosen area but suffer from negatives in other areas. Note that these modifiers are based on the weighted average values for the type of mineral and not the specific mineral deposit itself.

Blueprint Yield Stockpile 10% Drop Dispersion Excavation Weeks
Localised Mineral Extraction (10016) 10% -8% -5% -12%300
Planetesimal Exploitation (7005) -25% 5% - -100
Geological Mapping (7029) -5% 2% - 20%450
Hydrothermal Vein Mapping (7030) -5% -10% 15% 10%250
Deep Core Sampling (7021) - 2% -10% -20%150
Volcano Analysis (7022) 2% - -10% -15%250
Fault Analysis (7010) - 5% -30% 10%100



Tech Upgrades
Techs are more expensive and require longer tool times but their advantage is that they give better results. Multiple techs can even be used in conjunction to offset most penalties though the loss of weeks while upgrading for all but the largest mines can make this a somewhat pointless.

Tech Yield Stockpile 10% Drop Dispersion Excavation Weeks
Specialist Mineral Extraction (8508) -15% 30% - -250
Mining (8650) 20% 10% -20% -200
Excavation(8660) -5% 5% 40% 15%450
Seismology (8719) -5% 10% 20% 15%200
Hydrothermal Analysis(8722) -10% 5% 20% 20%100
Volcanology(8721) 20% 5% -5% -15%200




Example of using Planetesimal Exploitation on a Collidium deposit.

Code:
| Collidium (31)                        97241     8.205     5         126667   |
| |
|-Mining Report----------------------------------------------------------------|
| |
| 0 available mines |
| |
| MINES MINERAL TYPE ID OUTPUT |
| 16 Collidium (31) Normal 97241 117 |

Upgrading Collidium (31) deposit:
5.46 (-2.75) Yield
131667 (+5000) Stockpile
100 (+100) mine weeks excavation
Planetesimal Exploitation (7005) has been exhausted and removed from your
position.


Rare ores have an average stockpile of 100,000mu
Code:
| Collidium (31) {100 m.w.}             97241     5.455     5         131667   |
| |
|-Mining Report----------------------------------------------------------------|
| |
| 0 available mines |
| |
| MINES MINERAL TYPE ID OUTPUT |
| 16 Collidium (31) Normal 97241 0 |

N.B. Very rare ores cannot be upgraded.




 
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Return of the LiQuans

A close associate of the Baron LiQuan has been haunting the Corewards periphery and like the old Baron it is said he has a meklan connection. It's unclear whether he obtained his meklan nanites via the CIA but there are rumours that the DEN may be helping the Liquan relative in a bid to sow discontent in the Stellar Empire. Exactly why they would start in Corewards is unclear although with DEN allies, the DOM, having strong positions both in the Sol system and the old Harcorp systems of Harlong and Coptuv they may be the linking factor.


 
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Meklan Unleashed on Mobile Bay

Mad Dewiek scientist Dr Kala released a number of Meklan on the busy world of Mobile Bay in the Yank system. Thousands of civilians have been killed in what is treated by DEN warlords as an amusing practical joke. Rather than take any responsibility for their affiliation’s reckless behaviour, a DEN lord rumoured to be half-meklan himself quipped he would nuke the planet whilst another merely saw it as an opportunity to test some of his greener troops in combat. Surprisingly, the KAS planetary defence force was up to the job of repelling the insidious incursion. Questions remain whether further meklan are stored elsewhere on the planet and whether anybody will challenge the Dewiek’s lack of care for the lives of innocents. Probably not, given how even the mighty IMP are now cowering from a fight with the DEN (see inside this edition).


 
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Who is behind the AFA?

Following the large scale holiday attack by the AFA against the FET the question of who is behind the attacks has been raised once again. What is clear is that the AFA is using ships that were transferred from the GTT to the IMP. The organisation and expertise of the operation also reduces the pool of potential candidates. Few can go from commanding a handful of broadswords to half a thousand warships and significant army logistics without a long stint in one of the more combative affiliations. With the DEN’s allies the HEX in close relations with the FET and no recent history of animosity between the aliens and FET, at least since the departure of former one-eye big-bun Norozov, it would be a bizarre turn of events if they were behind these attacks. Frankly, there’s no point dancing around it. The IMP are clearly behind the AFA. The question is what can anybody do about this move of significant Imperial resources to a black-flag agency?


 
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Fox Effects Fantastic Turnaround

With his feet barely under the table, Xavier Fox has managed to dramatically turn things around at the GTT. With year-on-year sales figures up by 23%, manufacturing up 42% and ship production increased by 36%, the megacorporation is running at full steam with noticeable impact on local economies across the Stellar Empire. Political analysts also note that after a period of retrenchment following the disastrous leadership of Ike Krieger, investment in defence is at a five-year high. After such bullish growth, the trick will be for Mr. Fox to recruit C-level executives fast enough to match his ambitions. It is notable in temperament, the current crop of GTT politicals do not exhibit the monomaniacal xenophobia of their predecessors and have resisted repeated provocations by the DEN to enter a pointless spar before they have re-established superiority against the foolhardy aliens.


 
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Felini flounder in Winter against superior Dewiek forces

The FEL have managed to get their asses kicked by the DEN yet again after provoking the definitely “not cute or cuddly” Dewiek in the Crossley system. The furry punching bags had bought a civilian flagged outpost in the system, without permission or under certain conditions depending on who you ask, and then had the gall to reinforce this error by positioning warships in orbit. The famously patient warlord Halvor did not buy the story these heavy hull armed ships were merely transports and sent a pack to clear the orbit. The mouthy yet green Felini fleet commander Pr'prz fancied his chances against what looked like a light complement of DEN warships and ordered his own warships to engage in the neighbouring Winter system. The result was predictably a wipe out of the FEL forces consisting of forty-seven capital warships at no loss to the DEN. Once again, a series of calamitous decision making resulted in Felini lives being wasted by a leadership barely fit to clean a litter tray. The otherwise untested Halvor can now claim some victory ale although with his penchant for picking on creatures as weak as Gracians, it’s not exactly clear how much glory this new breed of Dewiek warrior can claim against the legends of old.


 
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Dastardly Dewiek Disregard Yank Neutrality

The governor of a MRC outpost in the Yank system reports that a 400-hull DEN warship called Grey Hunter Axiom entered orbit of Spritzer and opened fire with weapons of mass destruction (WoMD) against a platform, outpost, ground party and ship. Reports indicate significant casualties to Kastorian personnel both in space and on the ground. The KAS Junta is gruffly warning, with a slightly indifferent air, that everybody better stay out of the sector of the outpost for their own health. It is unclear what measures the KAS have or will take against the DEN on this matter. Such a breach of Yank neutrality has in the past caused the Dewiek to froth at the bit against the Empire for their disregard of ‘civilised’ norms. Their current silence on this matter speaks volumes.


 
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Yenni-bodies Pirates?

A PIR outpost was miraculously discovered by an IMP freighter, of all things, in the Yanni system with several Javelin class warships in orbit. After noticing the IMP freighter and seeing the public post by Jack Jones on subspace, the PIR decided to flee and leave a combined force of IMP and FET forces to capture the outpost. A brain damaged three-year old commentator who still believed in the goodness of people and Santa Claus was quick to commend the IMP on their good work, dismissing those who thought it no more than a convenient clearing up operation signifying* completion of operations in the nearby FET claimed systems of Graydown, Canth and Onissian by IMP puppet Edward Lowe. Meanwhile, the Wolf Lord Lyceum summed up the view of many when he screamed, “What is this amateur b*llshit?” into an uncaring universe.


 
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Crowe Coups Self

The IMP Viceroy Tiberius Crowe has finally achieved something in his unremarkable tenure by relinquishing even the semblance of wearing big boy pants and instead, appointed Jack Jones as Patrol Commissioner, salty spokesperson and policy maker for the Empire. Crowe will now join CIA Director Laton in riding the special bus to work where the two of them will enjoy long pleasant afternoons sipping cups of tea. Actually, just tepid fruit-scented water as neither of them can be fully trusted with a hot kettle. Occasionally, they might be visited by equally dynamic war “veteran” Admiral Bridge to enjoy mimes presenting the latest comics from the Howl. Meanwhile, Jones is putting pressure on the FET and will soon no doubt find a pretext to deploy his vast mercenary forces against anyone else who is seen working too closely with his most hated of enemies, the HEX.


 
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Highlord Aadolf Loses Control As Dewiek Break Peace Treaty

Around one hundred DEN warships have launched an attack on a small GTT destroyer squadron of forty ships in the Daggern system. Two GTT ships were destroyed and another fifteen suffered noticeable damage. CEO Xavier Fox issued a restrained but angry statement demanding the DEN explain themselves. Highlord Aadolf’s buffoon-like response amounted to “Dewiek be Dewiek, let’s drink and forget about it.” Cold comfort for the dead crew onboard the GTT ships and their families. Especially, as seems likely at this time, the Empire will settle for some bloody money instead of retribution.


 

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I’ve played on and off for approximately 10 years, over a 20 year spell. After some interesting debate on the in-game forum, I did wonder what, exactly, has kept drawing me back to the game, when for so many others I’ve generally lost interest after a few months.

Ultimately, I think it is a combination of automation (that allows the game to handle thousands of positions to interact on a daily basis) coupled with Special Actions (that allow the story arc to develop in a way that could not be catered for by a set of predefined list of available orders).
-Zigic