Basic production, like the sort used to produce market staples, or the sort used to produce ships, requires a constant influx of minerals, especially the so-called low-end minerals, tritanium and pyerite. Buying minerals directly from sell orders is essentially paying a hidden markup, and buy orders are inefficient because of the competition playing .01 isk markup games.
The secret is not mining, which takes way too much time and carries a hell of an opportunity cost. The secret is to put up buy orders for high-yield modules, and reprocess them into their raw materials.
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As you surely know, modules are built out of minerals. As you probably also know, they may be refined back into raw minerals, though often with a loss attributable to low skills or to the owner of a refinery station (usually NPCs) taking a portion of the minerals as a tax.
Many of these modules are exceptionally rich in minerals. Especially in high-sec hubs like Jita, the market price of a tech one module is usually pretty darn close to the value of that item's mineral content. If the module price drifts too high in relation to mineral price, producers will undercut it. If the price drifts too high, savvy producers will buy the minerals and reprocess them, then sell the minerals for a quick buck. Or use them, perhaps.
The idea here is that you should set up insultingly low buy orders for modules that have decent mineral contents, rather than for just the raw minerals, in a particular area that you know is inhabited by a decent amount of players. Those players will then sell to your buy orders. At least, the lazy ones will, and that's probably most of them.
A player making ten million ISK on a mission isn't going to fly ten jumps to sell his '1600mm Reinfosrced Steel Plates I' for an extra hundred thousand ISK. At least, most won't. Instead, he will sell to your buy order.
It may be for an insultingly low price, but it's better than wasting time hauling crap to Jita and back. It's anybody's guess whether the average EVE player fits this profile, but enough do to make you a ton of ISK, if you find the right spot.
Cast A Narrow Net
Don't make the mistake of setting regional buy orders when you are lowballing for modules. There can be dozens and dozens of stations in any given high-sec region, and you don't want to be flying to each and every one of them to pick up a crappy module worth 90k ISK, even if you only paid 5k isk for it.
Instead, find agent mission hubs that aren't located too close to a market hub, and set up buy orders there. Give your buy orders a range of 1 or 2 systems, tops. That's still going to be plenty of work to pick everything up. Ideally, you should have your orders confined to one system, or not more than half a dozen stations between however many systems you choose.
Be careful, also, when placing buy orders, that you do not accidentally extend your order into low-sec systems. Dealing with the added level of hassle isn't really worth it.
That being said, you should place buy orders for as many mineral-rich modules as possible, within your carefully selected area. Good modules to try for include microwarpdrives especially 100mn and 10mn MicrowarpDrives. Others include armor plates, including 1600mm and 800mm Reinforced plates of all kinds (resell Rolled Tungsten, reprocess the rest). Also decent are armor hardeners like Armor Kinetic Hardener, Armor Explosive Hardener, and so forth, as well as Energized Adaptive Nano Membranes.
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Large guns are a big one, including: Large Neutron Blaster Cannons, 425mm Railguns, Mega Pulse Lasers, Tachyon Beam Lasers, 800mm Repeating Artillery, 1400mm Howitzer Artillery, and others. Cap Booster 800s and 400s are surprisingly lucrative, since many NPCs drop them, and they are considered throw-away items by many pilots. Large Smartbombs of any kind, and to some extend medium smartbombs, are also very mineral rich.
There are tons and tons of other modules that have high mineral content, as well, these are just some go-to examples.
A Potential Pitfall
Named modules, that is, tech one variants of modules dropped by NPCs, often have a much lower mineral content than their regular vanilla tech one equivalents. This is by CCP design, so that NPC drops will have somewhat less of an impact on the mineral market. Though these modules may be valuable to resell, they are usually less valuable than the normal version of the module.
The normal version of the module is the one that has similarly named tech two version. Also, the named versions are often wordy. For example, a 10mn MicrowarpDrive I module is the basic tech one version, while the Y-T8 Overcharged Hydrocarbon I Microwarpdrive is one of the named variants, and 10mn MicrowarpDrive II is the tech two version.
Making The Most From Minerals
You need to have a good idea of how much each item is worth. Just looking at the market sell orders in your region, or checking Jita prices via an alternative character or web site, can give you a rough idea of an item's value.
But in order to know exactly what an item refines into, you need to use a tool of some kind. I favor the EVE Info recycler tool, because you can change the yield value to reflect your skills and refining location.
The better your refining skills, the more minerals are produced, and you get richer, faster. Of course, training Scrapmetal Processing IV or V is a long grind, and even Refining IV can take longer than some people want to devote. The solution, as always in EVE Online, is networking. If you are in a corporation, there is a very high chance that somebody in it has trained at least some of the superior refining skills. Find that person, see if you trust them, and then have them reprocess your junk for you. Voila, instant cash.
Or you can be stubborn and insist on training Scrapmetal Processing IV, and its pre-requisite skills: Metallurgy V, Refinery Efficiency V, Refining V, and Industry I. It'll probably take two or three months. Seriously, don't be stubborn, find some other dude to outsource the refining to. Even if you let him keep 10% you'll still probably make more than if you refined it on your own.
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