The Background Mechanism
The selling price of a core mined commodity is determined by supply and demand as of the January 2020 update. Previously, selling prices were determined by faction states within systems. Since the update, the Elite Dangerous community has been assuming that it is demand alone driving sales prices—however, this is only a portion of the picture.
The key driver of selling prices for commodities is the galaxy-wide supply of each commodity. Why is this the case? Demand is something produced generically by stations. Stations are the only entities in the game that consume core mined commodities.
Supply and Demand in Elite Dangerous
When supply is higher than demand, prices go down. When demand is higher than supply, prices go up. What this means is that when players supply more of a commodity than there is a demand for, the price for that commodity goes down.
For example, if everyone is selling low-temperature diamonds (LTDs), you will see their price go down as the supply outstrips demand. In reverse, if nobody is supplying LTDs, demand will increase faster than the supply—so the price will go up.
Cmdrs may see a demand for 200 tonnes of painite in a station, then sell 200 tonnes of painite to that station; after the sale, painite demand barely changed while the price did. Painite demand did not change, but the supply of painite did. This effectively bottomed out the prices.
The supply of painite and LTDs have vastly outstripped demand since the patch, causing the prices to crash. Meanwhile, the majority of players have not been mining commodities like alexandrite, grandidierite, musgravite, rhodplumsite, etc., which has the effect of a steady rise in their prices.
How to Earn Credits Post Jan. 2020 patch
The way to maximize your profits from mining, as of the January 2020 update, is to check which commodities have the highest purchase price before you head out to mine. Commodities will change in price over time depending on what the player base is mining and supplying to markets.
You should also view the demand for commodities, as this will have an influence on the price over time. The prices and demand may not be the same by the time you have filled your cargo hold, so be sure to check throughout your mining activities.
Click on the “Demand” tab to sort stations by demand for your chosen commodity. If you are carrying more than is in demand, prices will most likely drop as you are unbalancing supply and demand before you even land (player groups are currently investigating this). Sort your commodity by the demand to find the highest demanding stations.
As you are mining, it might pay to refresh your search in EDDB or Inara to make sure your chosen commodity prices are still valid.
EDDB Price Checking
Head over to Elite Dangerous Database (EDDB.io). Once there, click on the commodities tab and sort the commodities by the highest price.
You’ll see prices change with supply and demand. At the time of writing, the benitoite selling price was higher than void opals (something unheard of in-game until the Jan. 2020 patch). Three hours later, the prices had changed due to commander activity.
Inara Price Checking
Inara (Inara.cz) is another great resource for finding commodity prices. When you get to the website, click on “Galaxy”, then click on “Commodities”:
Scroll down to the Metals and Minerals sections, and find the resource you want to mine and sell:
You’ll see over time that in the new economic system, buy and sell prices will continue to fluctuate with supply and demand. While there is the possibility of a few bugs in the way commodities are accounted for in the patch (such as demand or price going down as soon as a ship carrying a commodity enters the system or station), the economic aspect is realistic.
One only needs to look at the way energy and food prices vary in real-life, to understand how these prices can fluctuate so wildly. Energy and food are two very volatile markets, that fluctuate due to many world-wide events such as weather, political reasons, or conflict. Real-life precious metal markets act in much the same manner, fluctuating due to many different influences.