Clandestine Moon Mining in EVE Online (Part Two)
This is the second half in a series of two articles dealing with "ninja mining" a moon without being a member of a mega-alliance. This half of the guide contains additional information about probing moons, shopping lists for getting started, the basics of setting up a mining POS, and lots of advice for making that process easier. The first half of this series deals with finding and evaluating moons, as well as a general overview of moon mining. If this seems complicated at first, it's because it is. Remember: if it was easy, everybody would be doing it.
More On Probing Moons
One of my readers has asked for a more in-depth description of how to probe moons. Once you have trained the skills, bought the probe launcher, bought survey probes, and fit the gear onto a ship, follow the simplified steps below.
Checking If The Moon Is Inhabited, The Easy Way
Once you are in the system in question and there aren't any other pilots around, eject from your ship at a planet or, if possible, in a station. Warp to the moon in question with your pod. POS weapons will not target a pod unless there is a pilot with the right skills directing them.
If there is already a POS there, there isn't much that a lone pilot can do about it. Even if you have a few friends to take the tower down with, there are good odds that the owner will bring a bunch of his buddies to defend it. Taking down towers is complicated, dangerous, and half of what being in alliance is about. It is better for ninja miners to find uninhabited moons to harvest.
Probing Part Deux
Warp to the moon once you are sure that it is uninhabited. Right click on space, select the planet that your moon orbits, select that moon, and select 'align to'. This will cause your ship to accelerate toward the moon at maximum speed. Once your ship has reached maximum speed, fire the expanded probe launcher that has your survey probes in it.
Press CONTROL + F11 to open your scanning window. Select the 'Moon Surveying' tab, and wait. How long you need to wait depends on what kind of probes you are using, as discussed in the previous article. Eventually, your moon will appear along with what materials, if any, that it contains.
Before CCP added the 'align to' option, pilots would have to aim their ships at moons manually, and the probes would often miss. Be thankful that you are spared that experience.
Okay, I Found A Moon!
Great. Now you need to buy a POS tower and fuel, mining and storage gear. Then you need to make several trips to your moon in order to drop them off get things set up.
There are a few other things that are required in order to set up a mining POS, aside from the actual gear. In order to actually anchor the structures, you will need to train the Anchoring I skill. Some POS structures require higher levels to be trained, but we won't be dealing with any of those.
Creating A Moon Mining Corp
The more significant impediment is that your character must be in a non-NPC corporation and have the 'starbase config' role. This means that unless you are very good friends with a CEO, you will need to create your own corporation. Don't worry, it's easy.
Train the Corporation Management skill to level I. Dock in a station that is near where you are going to be settling moons. Click on the 'corporation' tab on the main EVE sidebar, and press the 'Create New Corporation' button. You will be charged a small fee and have to fill out a few boxes. It is so straight-forward that I don't think any more needs to be said about it.
POS Shopping List
These are the parts needed for the actual mining itself. The prices below are for the modules seeded by NPCs
- Gallente Control Tower Small: 100mil isk. This is the main building of your POS. It stores and uses fuel, and projects a force field to protect non-combat structures that are anchored near it, as well as any friendly ships that stay within its radius.
- Moon Harvesting Array: 4.5mil isk. This harvests moon materials for you at a rate of 100 units per hour. Without a silo, however, the materials are wasted.
- Silo: 13.5mil isk. When a moon harvester is connected to this properly, it will store the harvested material. It must be emptied periodically. Each silo can only contain one kind of material at a time.
Note that for carrying purposes the tower is 2,000m3, the harvester is 4,000m3, and the silo is 4,000m3.
POS Fuel Shopping ListThe POS consumes fuel every hour. A Gallente Small can usually store up to about a month of fuel, but to start off you should just fill it with a week of fuel. That way, if it gets blown up within a day or two your losses will be more limited.
- Enriched Uranium: 168.
- Oxygen: 1176.
- Mechanical Parts: 336.
- Coolant: 336.
- Robotics: 168.
- Oxygen Isotopes: 18984.
- Liquid Ozone: 504.
- Heavy Water: 3864.
Note that total size of this fuel package will be 7282m3.
Conveying To And Fro
As mentioned in the first part of this series, blockade runners are the optimal ship for ninja mining because they are able to fit a large amount of goods in their cargo holds, and because they can warp while cloaked. This cloaking imparts a great deal of survivability, and as a result properly piloted blockade runners are almost impossible to kill.
For example: A prorator (the Amarr blockade runner) with four Expanded Cargohold II modules in its low slots, and two Medium Cargohold Optimization I rigs fit, can carry about 10,900m3. Note that the cargo of blockade runners is independent of pilot skill, so all prorator pilots will be able to fit the same amount. Other blockade runners will be able to carry similar amounts.
Trip One: Tower and Fuel
For your first trip to your moon, you should bring the tower and the fuels listed above. The tower is 2000m3, and the fuel is 7282m3, so you will be hauling 9282m3 in total. This should fit in any race's blockade runner, as long as you have enough expander modules and rigs.
Warp to the moon once you are in-system. Wait until there are no other active pilots in local, or they might attack you while you are setting up. Open your cargo hold, right click on your tower, and select 'launch for corp'. The tower will appear in space. Get within 2500 meters of it, right click on it, and select 'anchor control tower'. A timer will appear next to your tower, indicating how long until it has been anchored. A small gallente tower requires seven and a half minutes to anchor itself. During this time it is very vulnerable, so be sure the local pirates don't know what you are doing.
Once it is anchored, right click the tower and select 'open fuel bay'. This will open the hangar from which the tower stores and expends fuel. Note that the fuel bay can only store fuel, it cannot be used as an ad hoc storage space. Drag your fuel into it, then right click on the tower and select the 'put online' option. A timer will again appear next to your tower, indicating how long until it has become fully operational. Again, it requires seven and a half minutes to online.
While your tower is onlining, right click on it and select 'manage'. Select the 'force field' tab and enter a starbase password. Barring unusual circumstances, you should check the 'allow corporation member usage' and 'allow alliance member usage' boxes, so that you don't need to enter the password every time you want to get inside the POS force field. Note that if you do not set a password, your POS is vulnerable to sabotage. Click the 'apply' button.
Once that is done, it's time to get the rest of your gear. But before you leave, be sure to right click your tower and select 'bookmark location,' so that later you will be able to warp directly to it without fuss.
Trip Two: Mining Gear
Your cargo for the second trip should include the moon harvesting array and silo. Any extra space you have beyond the 8000m3 that those POS structures use, should be used to carry extra fuel or perhaps strontium clathrates (see below). Once you are at your online tower and within the force field that it is projecting, open your ship cargo and right click 'launch for corp' on the moon harvester. It will appear nearby as a small floating object.
Right click on that object and select 'anchor structure'. A strange green box with arrows will appear. Try dragging the box by clicking on the arrows and dragging it around (it takes a little practice). When you've got the hang of that, and the box is somewhere within your force field, right click on one of the arrows and select 'anchor here'. A timer will appear, indicating that it takes about ten minutes to anchor. Go get a snack, stretch, whatever.
Once the moon harvester is anchored, do the same with the silo. Note that you cannot anchor (or online) more than one POS structure at a time, per POS.
So This Is Moon Mining!
Now you have a POS tower online, along with some gear, and it's time to put them to work. Right click on your tower and select 'manage'. Click on the 'processes' tab, and click on the 'production' tab under that. Your harvester and silo will appear as a colorful list. Click 'change type' on the moon harvester, then find and select the material of your choice from the list that appears. Repeat this process for the silo. Put both the harvester and silo online.
Now, note the icon to the left of the moon harvesting array. Click on that and drag it to the icon on the left side of the silo, and drop it over it. Click the 'apply' button at the bottom of the management window. This tells the POS that the ore from the harvester should go into the silo. If things are working properly, 'online - active' should appear below the harvesting array in red letters, and every hour afterwards 100 units of your precious moon materials will be deposited into the silo.
If things don't seem to be working, click the 'clear all links' button and try again.
Trip Three: Refueling And Emptying The Silo
If your POS is still standing after two or three days, your gamble has paid off and the tower is probably going to survive for some time. Refuel with another package of fuel as described above, but top things off with extra fuel. Return to your tower and drop the fuel into it. Right click on the tower and select 'manage' again. Under the 'processes' tab, you may have already noticed the 'fuel' tab. Clicking on that will show you how long until you run out of a given kind of fuel. This tab will show you what you need more of, especially if you screw up the ratios of the different kinds of fuel to each other. Use it to plan your refueling trips.
Once you have emptied your ship cargo of fuel, right click on your silo floating in space and approach it. Once you are within 2500 meters, right click and offline it. When it is offline, you can right click and select 'access storage'. Drag the contents into your ship hangar, re-online the silo, and whisk yourself back to empire with your precious product.
Selling Moon Materials
Take it to Jita. As mentioned in the first part of this series, Jita is the only open market for moon materials. Be sure to maximize your profits by setting up sell orders rather than just selling to buy orders. Perhaps have a market alt sit in the Jita station so your main character doesn't need to remain in the area.
Note that the price of moon-related goods often fluctuates, especially before and after a big patch. If prices seem to be a bit lower than usual, you may want to hoard your product until they climb again. Trust your instincts and don't be afraid to take a small gambles with some of your product.
[protip]Optional: Stronting Your Tower
Strontium Clathrates are a special kind of fuel that is stored in its own area in the tower, and is only used when your tower is reduced to below 25% of its shield levels. Once this happens, the tower enters a special 'reinforced mode' during which it is completely invulnerable but cannot be refueled or modified in any way. This is to give the owner of the tower time to react and muster a defense. It is generally a good idea to put enough strontium into the tower so that it will come out at an odd time relative to when it is reinforced. A small tower consumes 100 strontium per hour when in reinforced mode, so putting 3600 strontium in will make it leave reinforced mode in 36 hours, likely a poor time for the original attacker to be awake and playing video games.
Alas, a dedicated defender will not give up. If a fleet shows up to blow your tower up when it leaves reinforced mode, you're screwed. Seek greener pastures elsewhere. On the other hand, if the tower survives, you can refill the strontium bay and continue about your business.
Because of the large size of strontium, filling your tower will require its own trip. Additionally, the expense may not be justified --if your tower is noticed by somebody that cares, there is a good chance that it will be destroyed whether it is "stronted" or not.[/protip]
Optional: Weaponizing Your POS
There is certainly enough room on your POS to fit a few weapon arrays. Before deciding to do so, carefully consider whether or not the expense is justified. Low-expense means low risk, and adding weapons significantly increases the price tag.
Gallente towers receive a bonus to hybrid arrays, so that's what you should use as your main weapons. As with modules, there are rail guns for long range, and blasters for short range. The sizes are a little bit different, however. The small arrays use medium ammunition, and the medium arrays use large ammunition.
Anchoring and onlining weapons is done in the same manner as the towers, except that they must be located outside of the force field, where they may be subject to attack. Often, before reinforcing a POS, a fleet of attackers will disable any defensive modules. Before onlining a weapon structure, you should get within 2500 meters of it, right click and select 'access ammo storage', into which you should drag the ammunition of whatever size is appropriate. Once the POS sees something that it wants to shoot, it will automatically load the ammunition into its active ammo storage for use.
[protip]When anchoring your weapons, keep in mind that medium guns will have a hard time hitting anything smaller than a battleship, especially if it is orbiting at a close distance. It is better to put your small guns in one clump, and your medium guns in a different clump on the other side of the POS.
In addition to any weapon modules, it is a good idea to have at least one 'warp disruption battery' and one 'stasis webification battery' in order to keep any ships that attack your POS from warping off. That way they will actually die, instead of retreating every time their hit points get low.[/protip]
When The Worst Occurs
Eventually, somebody that cares will notice your POS and blow it up. Maybe they want the moon for themselves. Perhaps they regard it as trespassing. Or maybe, even usually, they're just plain mean. It will happen. It's just a question of how much money you make off of it, before it blows up. If you chose your moon carefully and aren't terribly unlucky, that could be half a year or more. It could be three weeks. Or, as one of my readers attests, it could be five hours.
When your tower is first attacked, you will receive an EVE-mail notification, as you will when it enters reinforced mode. You may want to try defending it, or (more likely) you may try bribing the attacker. If it seems like your tower is being attacked by sizable local corporation, consider offering them a percentage of your profits in exchange for leaving you be. Spot bribes sometimes work, but be sure to pay only half up front, and half at a later date when you have been left alone for a bit.
If fueling it is not too difficult, perhaps because you have a partner in crime or two, you may consider expanding to additional moons. Don't overwhelm yourself with fueling, though, or you will burn out and be back to mining asteroids. Done properly, fueling just involved checking in every week or two, between which you can go about your normal EVE activities.
Another, very lucrative way to boost moon materials profits is to react your moon materials into advanced materials, that can then be sold or used to make tech two modules and ships. Reactions are complicated enough to warrant own article. Fair warning: if you thought this was hopelessly complicated, reacting will make your head spin.
Five Dangerous Things To Avoid
Finally, I give you five dangerous things to avoid when settling moons:
- Don't pick a moon within about five jumps of a conquerable station. That's too close to the no-doubt hostile local alliances, and they might take umbrage at your trespassing or blow your POS up just for fun.
- Don't pick a moon in a chokepoint system. If everybody and his cousin needs to go though a system in order to get where they are going, you and your POS is eventually going to be noticed by somebody malicious or greedy enough to destroy it.
- Think twice before pick a moon in low security space. The more profession low-sec corporations are sure to be aware of where the valuable moons are, and are keeping tabs on whether outsiders are moving in. Low-sec has its own moon ecology, and if you aren't in good with the locals you should be extra careful about mining there.
- Don't claim sovereignty. It should go without saying because of the hassle and the cost of the new "sov" claiming systems, but just to make it absolutely clear: there is nothing less discrete in EVE than having your corp name show up in the top left corner any time someone is in that system. Never mind that this won't save you any isk or increase the defensibility of your POS.
- Don't tease the locals. If they get wind of what you are doing there is a good chance they won't care, unless you have spent the past two weeks teasing them about making money in their space. If you get them mad, they will definitely make the time to find and destroy your POS.