The Miner’s Dilemma

Market prices for Megacyte across different regions.

Market prices for Megacyte across different regions.

Large-scale market economics in EVE are endlessly fascinating to me, but I have very little experience playing those games. I mostly make my money from killing computer-controlled pirates, not mining. People who mine are (understandably) obsessed with the market prices for their minerals because they have to sell their mined minerals to other players; there’s no CCP-controlled way to get paid a fixed rate for their basic ISK-making activity. As with any market item, the price of minerals can fluctuate quite significantly. This makes the process of figuring out how best to make money as a miner much more complicated than my life as a pirate-killer (“ratter”, colloquially).

Over at k162, there’s a really fantastic article about the options facing miners. They have to choose where and what kinds of ore to mine, focusing both on what’s worth the most right now and what they can safely acquire. With market prices fluctuating, this makes for a really complicated decision space. That article does a great job of breaking it down.

Some quick vocabulary will help you make sense of it. He talks a lot about “ABC” ores. The way mining works is you find asteroids that generate different kinds of ore. A given asteroid type, say, “Arkanor” (the ‘A’ in ABC) can be converted into its constituent minerals at a refining station. This grid shows the mapping between asteroid/ore types and the minerals they will refine down to. Minerals are the basic building blocks of all items in EVE. To build anything, you need buckets and buckets of these different minerals in different relative amounts.

The so-called ABC ores — Arkanor, Bistot, and Crokite — are much coveted because they refine down to Zydrine and Megacyte (you can see this in the grid linked above), and they could (historically) be found only in 0.0 space. In the next to last expansion, CCP added wormholes to the game (pretty much always abbreviated as WH), which also contained the ABC ores, without the same risks and overhead of operating in 0.0.

The un-asked question here is if CCP is going to do anything to adjust these market dynamics. They’ve historically tried to maintain a balance of risk/reward where taking more risks meant you could make more money. The appearance of ABC ores in WH-space fundamentally threatens that balance, giving the rewards of 0.0 to the somewhat-less-risk-taking wormhole residents. Will they rebalance this? If you really think they’re going to, we’re approaching the time to put your money where your mouth is. Anyone can throw a few hundred million ISK into buying currently-cheap minerals on the markets and hope that the price rises in the coming months. If it does, they’ll be rewarded handsomely. If not, you could be stuck holding the bag on a hangar full of devalued minerals.


2 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Miles,

    Looks like someone should set up a derivative market

  2. Baa,

    The changes made in Dominion do change the the risk/reward somewhat. With sov in a system, and a high enough industrial index, industry upgrades add gravimetric sites of the same make up as those in wormhole space. In such a developed system the risks are less. I’ll explain:

    In 0.0 you have local available, so can see any hostiles coming into the system. The rats, although they respawn, in 0.0 are no the super intelligent, target switching, rats of WH space. Its possible to get a reasonable spawn, sit an appropriately fit BS in the site, and tank what ever rats come along.

    At present, with the lack of large wars, this seems to be driving down ore prices. Its still profitable to mine and sell the ore, but much less so than a month ago. People are starting to talk about stockpiling to let the market recover. The next few months will be interesting.

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