Friday, February 8, 2013

The Poor High Sec Ice Miner

I have a confession.  I ice mine in low sec.  I don't go out to the ice belts too often, but I like to manufacture my own probes and some probes require strontium clathrates to manufacture.

Party time in a low sec ice belt - a Mackinaw stopped by to join in the fun
Combat probes require six units and deep space probes require eight.  I could buy what I need off the market but what fun is that?  High sec miners probably think I'm crazy.  But I feel sorry for the denizens of the high sec ice belts.  Not because of the activities of James 315 and The New Order.  CCP allows emergent game play and if a bunch of players want to portray themselves as a bunch of religious zealots who sideline as extortionists, who am I to say that's wrong?  No, I look at the poor ice miners who are mining not to fuel their POS but to make some easy ISK as exactly that: poor.

First, let's take a look at the types of ice found and how much the refined product can fetch in Jita.  Here is the high sec ice found in Gallente space and two flavors of low-sec ice.

One unit of Blue Ice, the only ice found in Gallente systems with a security status of .4 and above, refines into:
  • Heavy Water - 50 units
  • Liquid Ozone - 25 units
  • Oxygen Isotopes - 300 units
  • Strontium Clathrates - 1 unit
One unit of Glare Crust, found in systems with security status of .3 and below, refines into:
  • Heavy Water - 1000 units
  • Liquid Ozone - 500 units
  • Strontium Clathrates - 25 units
One unit of Dark Glitter, found in systems with security status of .1 and below, refines into:
  • Heavy Water - 500 units
  • Liquid Ozone - 1000 units
  • Strontium Clathrates - 50 units
Based on the average price of all of these commodities sold in The Forge (i.e. Jita) on Sunday, 4 February, one unit of each flavor of ice is worth:
  • Dark Glitter - 397,999 ISK
  • Glare Crust - 254,552 ISK
  • Blue Ice - 144,603 ISK
Okay, but I can't take a Mackinaw into low sec, right?  Some do, as the picture I took last night shows, but I prefer Procurers for low sec work.  The question is, does the efficiency of the Mackinaw make ice mining in high sec more profitable than mining ice in a Procurer in low?  The answer is no.

I put together two fits in EFT with Wandering Rose as the pilot.  The first is a Mackinaw fit I saw on the forums designed for maximum yield.

Mackinaw - Max Yield

The second setup is one I came up with for a low sec ice mining Procurer.  The use of the inertia stabilizer gets the align time under 7, which I like for getting out of a belt quickly.  And the MWD gives the ship a top speed of 209 m/sec with Wandering Rose's current skills.

I just used Wandering Rose's skills with no implants and no fleet booster.  So what is the verdict?  If neither ship needs to travel to dock, the Mackinaw can mine 40.74 units of ice per hour and the Procurer can mine 32.7.  So what does that look like for making money?

  • Procurer - Dark Glitter: 13,014,567.30 ISK/hr
  • Procurer - Glare Crust: 8,323,850.40 ISK/hr
  • Mackinaw - High Sec: 5,891,151.89 ISK/hr

I was really surprised with my calculations.  I then looked at the cost of the ships.  Using the average price in The Forge from 4 February, a Procurer hull cost 6,980,000 ISK and a Mackinaw cost 168,739,999.98 ISK.  The ratio of the disparity shrinks enormously once the cost of the fittings is included, but the Mackinaw is still worth 186,778,293.22 ISK compared to the Procurer's price is 20,910,289.29 ISK.  This brings my last calculation: how long does a ship have to mine ice for in order to pay the purchase cost?

  • Procurer - Dark Glitter:  1.6 hours
  • Procurer - Glare Crust:  2.5 hours
  • Mackinaw - High Sec:  31.7 hours

I'm not a hard core miner, but I would venture a guess that a lot of those miners we see in the ice belts are not trying to get rich off selling their products.  No, I would guess the majority of those poor sods stuck mining are doing so in order to fuel a POS or do a few other activities.   At this point if someone wants to go AFK mine in order to save someone the agony of ice mining, especially at the low rates you see in high sec, then I don't mind.  AFK mining, like the activities of The New Order, does not violate the EULA or ToS.  Well, I won't mind as long as they don't start crying on the forums about getting suicide ganked.  Eve is a dangerous place, high sec included.


  1. That Mackinaw is just horrible. The mids eat up the CPU forcing a CPU module in low. However replacing that CPU module with a Damage Control II and leaving the mids empty (which you obviously shouldn't) gives you more tank for the same yield.

    Also, Procurer is a barge, while Mackinaw is an exhumer. Compare Retreiver barge to Procurer or Skiff to Mackinaw.

    1. I had to search for that Mackinaw fit because I always sacrifice yield for tank and I needed someone with a different mentality to come up with a yield fit. As bad as I am at Eve, even I'm not bad enough to come up with that fit.

      Comparing tech 1 to tech 2 isn't a fair comparison? That's proves my point, doesn't it? Even giving the high sec ice miner the advantages of the tech 2 bonuses low sec ice mining is still more profitable. How profitable? Let's look at profit (after paying off the ship) after mining for 100 hours. Let's also assume the low sec miner is really bad and gets ganked an average of once every 10 hours while the high sec miner never gets ganked.

      Procurer, Dark Glitter: 1,071,443,547.81 ISK
      Procurer, Glare Crust: 602,371,857.81 ISK
      Mackinaw, Blue Ice: 402,336,895.78 ISK

      Getting a Skiff for low sec is dumb. It cuts down on the profits!

    2. Show us, then Gerard.

      Spend 5 hours trading, and then post the results. Let us know if you can match Gev's ISK per hour earnings.

  2. One issue here is that it's not neccesserily a valid comparison.
    Mining in high sec is almost a passive activity, where's in low (i assume?) you are more or less paying attention all the time.
    That makes low sec mining more comparable to high sec missioning, and i suspect missioning would win the isk/hour race.

  3. I would suggest stocking up on procurers while the pre retribution prices are holding if you plan on lossing a fair few. Although I expect them to stay below their mineral cost for a long time yet.

  4. I just have one question; How the heck are you going to get that much ice out of a 0.1 lowsec system?

    Napkin math and theory here but if your mining in a 0.1 system I would assume you would try and do it in a quiet, out of the way system. Without looking at Dotlan maps I would also assume this hypothetical system would be at least 4 or 5 jumps through lowsec to reach. This would not be a problem with a Procurer but then I would also assume you don't haul your ice out to hichsec to empty the ore bay of ice.

    It's thinking about logistics like this that reminds me why I'm a combat pilot through and through. Shooting stuff is so much easier than working out how to make and move stuff.

    1. The fun part is that in the Minmatar Republic the one system with a .1 belt is 3 jumps from high sec, or 4 if you want to take the direct route to Hek. Even then that is only 3 low sec jumps because one of the jumps is into and out of a high sec island. Amarr is a totally different story.

      First refine the ice at a local station, preferably one owned by a faction you have personal standings of 6.7 with. Then use blockade runners with giant cargo containers to move it around. Both of my main pilots can fly them. Once out of low sec I can use either a Mammoth, Itty V or Orca to move the product to market.

      I don't ice mine very often because I just do it to get the stront. I then let the rest of the product build up until it fills a ship or two and then haul it out.

    2. He spent quite a while last year gaining standings to have perfect refine for the stations he is using.

    3. Can you say Rorqual? I knew you could! :-D

  5. Interesting math. Wonder if there's any serious ice miner out there would give it a try. There's a professional miner tried out wh life once. Finally he gave up cause he can't stand the active mining. In his point of view he could make more isk/hr with 7 toons afk in hs. Generally you can't do much with miner's playing style based on current mechanism. That's why Mack is more favored than Hulk in hs: Hulk requires active jet- can every 2 cycle/strip mining laser.

  6. The really scary thing about those numbers? A hi-sec incursion runner makes more raw ISK in 10 minutes (ie before selling LP) than the best-case miner manages in an hour. And the miner still needs to refine and sell his/her product. I know, you can't AFK incursions and you need a group, but the difference is remarkable.

    1. Sure, a ratter, or incursion player can make a lot of isk. Ratting in null can bring in enough isk to replace a battlecruiser (call it a Drake) each hour, but it still takes 8-10 hours of mining to get the minerals to replace that battlecruiser. Someone has to do that mining.

      A battleship takes about 5-6x the minerals used to make a battlecruiser.

      So for all those ships destroyed in PvP, ganks or Concordokken, someone still has to spend hours and hours mining to replace them. In some people's vision of the world (like James 315), the number of miners drops precipitously. So instead of ratting and purchasing ships on the market, you have to go mine them yourselves. What sort of game would it be that if you lost your battleship on a fleet operation, then you could not PvP for 2 weeks because you had to mine the replacement - would *you* play that game?

  7. C'mon you all know the simple fact: you cannot compare hi sec afk mining with low sec mining. And if you want to be at the keyboard and fully alert, why not run lvl 4 missions? They will make you way more isk. There is a reason nobody is mining in low sec.