With the recent resurgence of mining as one of EVE Online's most profitable professions, it is important that new players understand how to get the most ISK from their refined asteroids.
The Basics Of Refining Asteroid Ore
Stripped of frills, mining is essentially the art of moving ore from an asteroid belt to a station, then refining it into usable minerals. There are many ways to get more out of each step of this process, but for this guide we will just be focusing on the refining stage.
Refining is simple enough. Right click on your stack of ore and select 'Reprocess' and you will receive an estimate of waste and taxes, which depend on your refining-related skills, the quality of the refining facilities at that station, and your standings with the NPC corporation that owns that station. If the station is player-owned, the taxes on mineral refines are instead determined by the leaders of the corporation that owns it.
Finding A Reprocessing Station
Not every station has the facilities necessary for refining ore. It is important to plan your mining around this limitation by either mining inside a solar system with a suitable station, or else planning some way to transport your ore to such a place. Keep in mind that ore is volumetrically quite large, and a successful miner will certainly fill up more than one industrial vessel's cargo hold, necessitating numerous trips. It's generally best to just mine in the same solar system as your reprocessing plant, or else have some way to transport the ore en masse, such as a freighter.
To find reprocessing stations, you can use either the Dotlan web site or the in-game map (under display settings). Refining stations are plentiful in high-sec and low-sec, but somewhat sparse in null-sec, where player-built outposts usually specialize in a single activity. Out there, reprocessing plants are most often found in pairs with manufacturing stations due to the inherent synergy involved.
Special Note: Starbase Refineries
The various starbase structures that deal with refining are, in a word, terrible. They have horribly poor refine rates, can only refine one substance at once, take forever to finish refining, and take up much-needed fitting space on the starbase. They may make sense in one of two cases: in the first, when a pilot desires to locally source the ice component of fuel (ice is always refined at 100%); in the second, when a pilot lives deep in wormhole space and wants to locally source minerals for making ammunition and thus reduce dependence on imports.
Getting Perfect Refine Rates
Perfectly refining ore with no waste or taxes is a hybrid of good skills, good relations with an NPC or player organization, and a good location. There is also the possibility of using implants to make up for a deficiency in skills or refinery quality.
Refining skills comprise a small subset of the industrial category of skills in EVE Online.
The two most important skills are:
- Refining: This skill reduces wasted minerals by 2% per level.
- Refinery Efficiency: Further reduces waste by 4% per level.
- Arkanor Processing
- Bistot Processing
- Crokite Processing
- Dark Ochre Processing
- Gneiss Processing
- Hedbergite Processing
- Hemorphite Processing
- Jaspet Processing
- Kernite Processing
- Plagioclase Processing
- Pyroxes Processing
- Omber Processing
- Spodumain Processing
- Scordite Processing
- Veldspar Processing
As well as some skills that improve the payout on certain non-standard materials:
- Ice Processing: Ice asteroids are critical for manufacturing starbase fuel, though are only found in very specific locations.
- Mercoxit Processing: Mercoxit is a special ore in that it damages the ships mining it, and also in that it is the sole source of arkanor, a critical mineral used solely in tech II manufacturing.
- Scrapmetal Processing: Much mineral matter can be derived from non-asteroid items such as ammunition, modules, and ships. This refining skill requires the longest to train, and is perhaps the most generally profitable in terms of pure ISK.
In almost all circumstances it is important to train not only refining and refinery efficiency, but also the applicable processing skill. Note that many of the processing skills are a pain in the butt to train for, especially those applying to the more coveted substances in EVE like high-end asteroid ores and scrap.
Where To Refine
What station you refine at will obviously be determined mostly by your personal circumstances. Still, there are many important factors to be considered. For starters, if you are refining in null-sec space then not all stations are equal; check out the refining rate of a given station there before putting all your eggs in one basket.
There is also the factor of taxes to be considered, since having maximized skills will avail you little if the corporation that owns a station is just going to tax the bejesus out of you. In the case of NPC-owned stations, his can be ameliorated by grinding out standings with the owner of a given station to 6.67 or higher, or else with the faction to which that NPC corporation belongs. In the case of player-controlled stations, the amount of tax demanded can vary quite wildly, though if you have a good relationship with the organization controlling it you can usually explain your situation and get a free pass or discount on their taxes.
The final thing that a refiner might consider is implants. Even under the best of circumstances, your skills may fall short. You can further reduce waste through the use of several implants.
The implants that improve refining rate are:
- Zainou 'Beancounter' Refining RX-801: A 1% reduction in refinery waste, at little cost to you.
- Zainou 'Beancounter' Refining RX-802: A 2% reduction in refinery waste.
- Zainou 'Beancounter' Refining RX-804: An expensive yet impressive implant that reduces waste by 4%.
Note that these seem to shave the listed percentage of waste off the full 100%, rather than reduce the remaining waste amount. E.g., if you have 2% waste remaining, an RX-802 will completely remove it rather than reduce it by a mere fraction of that. Note, however, that you can in no case gain more than 100% of a refine. Use of these implants can help make up for a skill or facilities shortfall, though they do not seem to help in the case of starbase refinery arrays.