You've mined asteroids before, but have you ever mined a moon? With a properly set up POS you can, and make ISK while you sleep. Or whilst you're awake, or down the pub, or..... (as long as it's in 0.4 system and below)
We've all found ourselves mining asteroids at some time or another, whether it was for five minutes at the start of our EVE careers or currently as a full-time profession. With the advent of POS (or 'Player-Owned Structures') we now have the opportunity to mine moons. While asteroids yield ore that is refined into minerals used in Tech I production, moons yield minerals that need to be reacted together to produce advanced materials for Tech II production.
So, how do we mine moons? First you need to establish a POS, which is essentially a mini starbase that belongs to your corp, nearby the moon of choice. The POS is the driving force behind the Tech II market, but they have also been put to extensive military use in planned 0.0 regional invasions and serve a key role in outpost defence. They can also be used as factories and laboratories using special modules. This guide, however, will focus on the moon-mining aspect of the POS rather than its military or other industrial uses.
SCANNING YOUR MOONS
Unlike asteroids, whose types are clearly marked, the mineral content of a moon is not immediately known. It has to be scanned using a survey probe to discover its contents. Also, unlike asteroids, each moon can have up to four minerals present. Most moon materials will be marked on a scan as 'Abundance 1' but occasionally you'll find 2s or even 3s or 4s. Abundance currently doesn't do anything, but it's rumoured to be a planned feature linked to Tech II Moon Harvesting Arrays.
To scan a moon you'll require a scan probe launcher and several survey probes. Warp to the moon you wish to inspect, fly your ship in close until you're pointing towards it and launch a survey probe. Don't worry about it reaching the moon - even if it seems that it will not get there, if you've aimed properly it will. After its flight duration, it will report back the results of whatever materials, if any, are present within the planetary satellite. You don't even need to stick around. You can keep scanning other moons until the duration is up. However, if you log out, jump into another system or dock, communication with your scan probes currently in space will be lost and you will have to start again.
Scan probe launchers, unlike normal launchers, do not take up a ship's launcher hardpoint. You can fit them to any ship with a high slot, making vessels such as the Iteron Mk III a popular choice for moon scanning as they can fit a scan probe launcher and hold hundreds of survey probes in the cargo hold. Rather obviously, high cargo capacity, high warp speed and high ship agility are aspects to look for when shopping for a decent probe vessel; one that allows you to carry a lot of probes, get to the next moon in the list fast and align to it as fast as possible.
The very smallest moon-mining operation requires no more than 150-200 million ISK to start up and this can certainly see some profit. This setup consists of a small control tower, which is the central nexus of the POS, a moon-harvesting array, a silo to hold the material harvested and, of course, fuel. Unlike mining lasers that you use on asteroids, the moon miner (or harvesting array) is fully automated and works 24/7, even through downtime. Once the modules are anchored, brought online, the material type is selected and the miner linked to the silo using the POS management interface, 100 units of the material you are mining will be dropped into the silo every hour. Some raw materials can be sold for more than the fuel cost of the POS, making mining them a profitable venture. You can have as many moon harvesting arrays running as you have different moon minerals. For example, if your moon has cadmium, caesium, and silicates then you can mine all 3 of these minerals at the same time if you have 3 moon harvesting arrays.
04: Atmospheric Gases, Evaporate Deposits, Hydrocarbons, Silicates
08: Cobalt, Scandium, Titanium, Tungsten
16: Cadmium, Vanadium, Chromium, Platinum
32: Caesium, Technetium, Hafnium, Mercury
64: Promethium, Dysprosium, Neodymium, Thulium
THE NEXT STEP
While selling raw materials may be profitable and require a low initial investment, it doesn't bring in much ISK. To expand your POS development, you could set up more small mining bases, but that'll just add to the trickle rather than flood ISK into your wallet. What you really want to do is start a reaction.
This is where things get complicated, but I will try to keep it simple. Two raw materials mined with Moon Harvesting Arrays can be reacted together in a Medium Reactor Array, which needs a blueprint for the appropriate reaction, to produce a new material. This material is called "Processed" and a list of them can be found in the Reactions Table in our item database.
Moon Harvesting Arrays set to mine the materials required for a reaction, or silos set to hold the materials required (and then filled with purchased raw materials) are linked to the reactor's input. The input is on the left- hand side of the POS management array, while the output on the right is then linked to a silo configured to hold the intermediate material. Once properly linked and online, the reactor will take in 100 units of each input material per hour and will output 200 units of the intermediate material at the same time.
Unfortunately, due to the reactor array using 1500 CPU and the silos using 500 CPU each, a medium reaction cannot be done on a small tower. It requires at least a medium tower and since they use twice as much fuel as a small tower, reacting will cost you twice as much per week than simply selling your raw materials. Take this into account when assessing your profit margins.
THE BIG MONEY
The final step in the moon-mining chain is the complex reaction. As you can see from the Reaction Table, intermediate materials can be reacted together to form advanced materials like Crystalline Carbonide and Ferrogel. Unlike simple reactions, these cannot take place in a medium reactor array but must take place in a full-sized 'Reactor Array', which uses twice as much CPU as its medium counterpart. Due to this, medium towers are not suitable to run a complex reaction. Instead, complex reactions must be run on large control towers only. Also, unlike simple reactions, they may take up to four different intermediate reactions to produce a single product, as is the case with Ferrogel, and they do not produce 200 units per hour but rather a large amount which varies from reaction to reaction. If in doubt, check the Reaction Table or look up the reaction blueprint info in-game.
These advanced materials are then used to build Tech II components which are used to build Tech II modules, ammo and ships. Since producing advanced materials is the ultimate purpose of moon mining, they sell very well, more than justifying the double fuel bill over a medium tower and the 500-700 million ISK price tag on a large control tower and modules. Selling intermediate materials is often very difficult, but if you can react them into an advanced material, sales will be swift and more than worthwhile.
Security ratings for the systems you use are a bit of a non-issue. A POS for moon mining can only be placed in a system that is that has a security rating of 0.7 or lower. To anchor a POS in a 0.5 > 0.7 security status system, your corporation will need to have the standing equal to that security rating towards the faction holding the system. For example, to anchor in a 0.7 in Amarr Empire Sovereign system your corporation will need to have a 7.0 standing towards the Amarr Empire.
WHERE TO SELL PRODUCT
As everyone knows, the Amarr, Caldari and Gallente centre trade in the EVE universe is currently Jita while the Minmatar, New Edens honourable opposite and equals of the Caldari, is a mixed bag between the Rens and Hek systems. With POS products, from raw materials to intermediates and all the way to complex materials or even Tech II components, should you choose to build them, the Hek, Jita and Rens markets throb and pulse with trade. Indeed, wherever in the universe you produce your product, selling in a popular is your best bet. Oursulaert is a popular Gallente trading system where a lot of the Tech II producers and component suppliers purchase materials from the producers based there but don't just spit on your own doorstep, making those few extra jumps to other parts of New Eden can prove extra profitable sometimes and it's always best to know what prices your neighbours think their goods are worth.
The ideal situation for many, however, is to get a sale contract. Many people will buy some or all of your product at the source or at the nearest 0.5 or above system to your POS network, minimising the work you have to do. Some others will pay above the market value for you to move it straight to their home base and sell it to them there. Often they are looking for a discount over market prices but a good buyer or heavy Tech II producer will offer more than market value for your products, knowing that a regular product keeps their industrial operation running consistently and smoothly.
To make the big money with a POS, you have to keep your operation running as efficiently as possible. This means lowering fuel costs and initial investment, maximising sale prices and minimising time and effort spent. Luckily, there are a lot of tricks to keeping your operation efficient, both in profit and time.
The single biggest key to efficient moon mining operations has to be using Caldari large towers. There is no doubt about this one - Caldari towers are simply all-round better for industry due to their massive CPU load. This is because all industrial modules, such as reactors, refineries, silos, etc use a large amount of CPU. The Caldari large tower, specifically, has enough CPU that it can do something no other tower can - successfully run both a simple and a complex reaction on the same tower. In fact, a medium Caldari POS could feasibly run a complex reaction using coupling arrays to feed it and collect materials, though this would need to be attended to every 15 hours.
The efficiency of the Caldari Control Tower only works if you can attend to the towers frequently enough depending on the reaction. If you cannot attend to your regularly at high frequency, you may want to use the Gallente Control Tower that offers a 100% storage bonus or the Amarr Control Tower that offers a 50% storage bonus. These may be more efficient for you since your reactors will spend less time idle. Do note though, that you will be competing with others on the market who might be able to attend their POSes more frequently and are using the Caldari Control Towers as above. If you're just trying to make ISK, always make sure to make sure you are getting more out of the POS than you are putting in.
Setting up near a station or outpost will dramatically cut down hauling, as you can hire a freighter to go from there to Jita and back for fuel and selling product. In addition, a common operations strategy is to simply empty the silos daily into a corporate hangar array, then haul it all to a station once a week. This drastically minimises hauling. Since all of my setups use 100% of the available CPU, not leaving any room for a corporate hangar array, I keep one anchored but offline. You can take items out of it when it is offline but you can only put items into it when it's online. Therefore, the only times when I need it online are when I am emptying the silos into it, in which case the silo is offline and not using CPU. In that way, I technically have enough CPU spare to use the corporate hangar array.
There are also a good number of ways to cut your fuel bills and thus increase profit. If you set up your POS in 0.0, say as part of an alliance, you can claim a sovereignty bonus. A POS in a system in which your alliance has sovereignty benefits from a 25% reduction in fuel usage. That translates directly to increased profit and reduced fuel hauling. However, the risk of hauling in and out of 0.0 may make it no longer worthwhile. Thus, be sure to consider the pros and cons carefully.
EFFICIENCY - COUPLING ARRAYS
These misunderstood little silos are all-too often misused. New POS engineers will assume they must put one between their miner and silo or their reactor and silo. The intended use is that they be placed in those positions so that when the silo is offline, product is temporarily stored in the coupling array so that it isn't lost. The reality is that these are nothing more than tiny silos and you can simply omit them from the setup and link miners and/or reactors straight to the silos.
If your POS cycles while the silo is offline, however, one hour's worth of product is lost. There is a trick to that too. Simply remove some of your fuel so you have less than 24 hours worth, and wait for your POS to mail you saying it has low fuel. The time on the mail will be the time your POS cycles. If you remember that time and simply make sure you don't have the silo offline for emptying during that time, you won't miss any product. A better use for coupling arrays is to link two together. They can hold approximately 15 hours of product each for a total of 30 hours. If you empty your silos daily, this won't be a problem and the CPU saved by using a double-coupler instead of a silo can make some very efficient and tight setups work. At 155 CPU per coupler and 500 per silo, you save 190 CPU by using a double-coupler instead of a silo.