**I did not write this guide, but I think it's something that looks like it'll be helpful for new players coming in. We seem to have a lot of those lately. I don't know how accurate this guide is, as it was posted in 2007, but hey. Here it is, nevertheless.**
To start mining you need equipment, there are two essential items and one optional one. The essential kit is a mining laser and cargo hold, the optional item is a tractor beam. There are now three types of cargo hold and mining laser which are craftable by your local shipwright, though he will need asteroid resources to make them, so you'll need quest ones (see below) or a well supplied shipwright to get you started. The important stat for the mining lasers is "Mining Extraction Rate" which is simply based on the damage of the weapon.
Extraction rate (on mining lasers) effects the number of shots required to break through a stage in the mining process. With a class 1 laser it will take multiple shots to get a chunk off an asteroid, with a Y-8 Elite laser you can get multiple chunks for one shot. It does not effect the quantity of asteroid resource mined when destroying a final chunk but it does affect the number of shots to break up the rock (again as above a class 1 may take 2 or 3 shots, the Y-8 will take 1).
All the kit is given to you in a series of quests that start with Flash Harrison who is in the cantina in the great tree of Kachiro. I'm not going to give away all the secrets of the quests, as they are fairly self explanatory, and I'm not in the mood to spoil them for you (I will say the quests are designed with tier 2/3 pilots in mind, with some of the later missions being designed for higher level pilots, so lower level pilots may need an escort, the Y-8 itself which is the final reward is a master pilot certified ship). I am however more interested in the mechanics of mining, and how best to go about it.
In summary it is basically the old...no....very old game "Asteroids" - anyone who knows it has the basics, for everyone else here are the basics:
Step one: Finding the asteroids
Asteroids show up on the navigation map in each sector they are in. There are 13 types of asteroid and are found in the following systems (added the average station price per unit):
Iron (2) Tatooine / Corellia
Sulphuric (8) Naboo
Organometallic (8) Lok / Kashyyyk / Deep Space
Cyanomethanic (10) Yavin 4
Carbonaceous (4) Naboo
Petrochemical (10) Yavin 4
Methane (10) Dantooine / Kashyyyk
Silicaceous (3) Corellia
Acidic (10) Dantooine
Crystal (17) Dathomir
Ice (6) Endor
Obsidian (10) Lok / Kessel
Diamond (20) Kessel
Step Two: The big one
The big asteroid can only be broken up with a mining laser (and only by an RotW player - I tested with my non-beta account and however many shots he fired no asteroids broke off, the pilot of the ship has to have RotW). Fire a few shots and an asteroid chunk will break off and begin floating off. You can spawn multiple chunks by continuing to attack the big one.
Please Note: When attacking the big one there is a chance Asteroid Bandits will spawn. They spawn appropriate to the system you are in, so expect to see Tier 1 fighters in Naboo space, but that Diamond in Kessel will get you some Tier 5 attackers, generally around 2-4 spawn at any given time.
Oh, in one of the screenshots released of the Y-8 ship you see it using a tractor beam apparently on a big rock - don't bother with that - it doesn't do anything, even though it looks cool.
Cheers to Zeon_Zaku for reminding me of this - the big asteroid can itself be destroyed (currently it is to use Tony Blair's term a damp squib, I'm hoping for a big boom). Don't Panic - it will respawn in a second or two a few metres from where it was.
Occasionally you will find an asteroid is "dry" (doesn't spawn any asteroids). It is likely it is empty and you have to keep blasting till it blows up and then can attack the new one.
Step Three: The medium one
Now you have the chunk that spawned from the big one, chase it down and again use a mining laser on it, after a lot of debris flies off it (decoration only) the rock will break up. Anything from 2 to 10 small asteroid chunks will then spawn and float off in different directions.
Bug: If either a medium or small asteroid reaches the edge of the space zone (any of it's co-ordinates reach 8,000 or -8000) then it becomes invincible, tractor beams also become ineffective so you can't pull it back from the edge. This is still a bug however the key asteroids that were affected have been moved so it is less of an issue.
Step Four: The small ones
Ok almost there now, you are about to actually get some asteroid resources. If doing the quests at this stage you will only have your mining laser, so blast each rock a few times and they will break up and the resources added to your hold - the hold symbol will light up and it will tell you the % of your hold you have filled up. It rounds down, so don't worry if it shows 0%.
If you are later on in the quests or if another player has given you one you may have a tractor beam. Personally I find the keymap command to "Toggle Tractor Beam" best to control this, map it to a button you can reach to turn it on or off. If the beam 'hits' a rock then it will change course towards you, get close enough to it and it will be brought on board your ship (it can fly past you, do another pass on it if that happens).
When destroying the rocks with a mining laser you will receive 20 units, when using a tractor beam you will receive 40 units per rock.
Step Five: What to do next?
There are two choices, either you can fly to a mining outpost and use /comm. Most mining stations are POI's in the appropriate system (look in the descriptions of the POI's for 'station') and are run by Miners, Trade Federation, RSF or CorSec. There is currently no distance restriction on the /comm so you don't have to fly to them. I detailed above average prices as a very unscientific average, some stations will buy for less than the listed prices, some for more (so look out for the best deal, and don't sell Organometallic to the Tatooine miners - they are cheapskates!)
You can sell resources direct from your hold to the station. However you cannot (at the moment, I hope this changes) sell from your inventory.
If you don't want to sell to the station you have to land - you cannot unload a ship in flight (and that includes when out of station on a POB ship). Once landed then open your datapad and use the radial menu to reveal two new options for any ship with a cargo hold: View Cargo (which surprisingly enough gives you a dialog box showing the cargo in the hold) and Unload cargo (which surprisingly enough unloads the cargo!).
Bug: If your inventory is full and you "unload cargo" you will lose the cargo - please check you are not at 80/80 before you unload.
Step Six: What can I do with the crates of asteroid resource?
Your local shipwright is likely to want them.
The resources are used in the mining equipment, Heavy ship schematics for the Z-95, TIE Light Duty and Scyk fighter, also in the Elite (POB only) and Mining (Y-8 only) components and finally in the cosmetic items (new texture kits and winglets and strakes) the full list by asteroid is as follows:
Iron Heavy fighters (Scyk/TIE/Z-95), Texture kits.
Sulphuric Y-8 Reactor.
Organometallic Capacitor, Reactor, Y-8 Reactor, Shield, Null Bolt, Railgun.
Cyanomethanic Starfighter cargo holds, Tecture kits, Kimoglia and Rihkxyrk winglets, TIE Adv winglets, X-wing & Z-95 strakes.
Carbonaceous Armour, Capacitor, Engine, Null Bolt, Gauss, Railgun, All mining lasers, Tractor beam, Vehicle restore kits.
Petrochemical Armour, Reactor, Heavy fighters (Scyk/TIE/Z-95), Y-8 cargo holds, Vehicle restore kits.
Methane Booster, Gauss, Mk1 and 2 mining laser.
Silicaceous Booster, Shield, Starfighter and POB cargo holds.
Acidic Engine, POB cargo holds.
Crystal Mk3 mining laser, Tractor beam, Kimoglia and Rigkxyrk winglets.
Icy No known use.
Obsidian Y-8 cargo holds, TIE Adv winglets, X-wing & Z-95 strakes.
Diamond Y-8 mining laser.
Step Seven: What was this - I got an unusual looking asteroid chunk in my inventory?
Congrats - they are a random drop when you are mining, both mining laser and tractor beam can generate them, as of now we have no idea if the tractor beam has a higher chance or not. They are used in the new texture kits and are one of five types so far seen: Misshapen (A-wing kit), Colourful (ARC and Z-95), Strange (B-wing), Glowing (X-wing) and Ancient (Y-wing)
Try not to get more than three medium size chunks spawning at any given point - by the time you have chased down the first three the fourth will be so far away it is quicker to go back to the big asteroid. I generally try to spawn just two to keep me from having long flights back to the asteroid.
Start shooting the big asteroid from maximum range, with your speed set for manoeuvrability so you can either defend yourself or line up to hit the medium rocks.
Set your weapon groups, the default will fire all groups including your tractor beam, the easiest thing is simply to open the group screen, default "g", then remove the tractor beam from its group and use the "toggle tractor beam" button to control the beam.
Remember to shop around for selling mining resources - Shipwrights will probably offer better than the stations, and some stations sell for more than others.
You will need to find the main asteroid and blast it, this will only kick in once the chunk has spawned. Please note once the bandits spawn the macro will effectively break, as such I'm not really a fan of it and there are a few variations (for example including a pause or attempting to auto-fire the weapons, but the latter gets rather too close to breaking the new policy on AFK combat for me)
The Restuss mining missions
There are just two of these, the first is 500 units of obsidian asteroid from Kessel, the second is 250 units of organometallic from Deep Space. For anyone new to space as well as mining be aware that DS is a PvP zone so if you enter you may be attacked without further warning by players from the other side.
Please note you will need to have the asteroid in your inventory to complete the mission as the NPC needs to take the asteroid from you. Be aware of the bug noted above with 80/80 inventories before you attempt to unload.
Recommended Mining ships
Personally I feel the tractor beam is essential, and with you needing a mining laser and the mk3 one being fairly low damage if you are going to a high end system (say Kessel or DS on the Restuss missions) then you'll need a proper gun (given the mining laser and tractor are small I would try to fit a nice big RE'd 10 in). Otherwise for loadout I don't do anything special, my main program setup is RO4, EO3 (4 if I have a RE'd engine in it), CO4 and CSS4 when needed.
So that only leaves the three-gun ships, so the choices are:
Kimo (too small mass for my tastes),
Rihkxyrk (a good choice if you have a spare slot),
Krayt (I use this a lot, swapping the loadout between combat and mining, but if you want to have a dedicated mining ship it's a bit expensive),
X-wing (again a bit small),
Heavy X-wing (a good choice for rebels),
B-wing (ok, so this has 4 guns, but it has the movement skills of a bus, so I don't really like it)
Oppressor (ok, so this has 2 guns, but the missile tubes can be used for attack when needed, it's the closest there is to an imperial mining ship)
JSF/Bel-22 (yeah, again 2 guns, but these can keep themselves moving and so stay out of trouble if the fight is too tough)
Y-8 (yeah, 5 guns, but need lots of players to handle this, so imho it's not that useful for mining, but it is a great fun ship)
Good luck and enjoy mining.
Thanks go to the beta testers who helped me in mining, and especially to Darth Platypus for awarding this guide the 2005 Golden Platypus award for "Guide Writing"
If anyone has any other hints please post them, or if I've made any mistakes let me know.