Smoke’s Guide to Core Mining

Explosions, charges, and limpets! Learn to core mine the Smoke way

Table of Contents

What You Need

You will need a Pulse Wave Scanner, a Detailed Surface Scanner (DSS), an Abrasion Blaster, a Seismic Charge Launcher, a Refinery, Collector and Prospector Limpet Controllers (both of these should be A-rated, especially the prospector) and Cargo Racks. Make sure you still have a shield!

The Method for Finding Cores

While in supercruise, switch to your DSS after it is bound to a fire group. The DSS is used to launch probes to map rings and planets. Then All Stop in supercruise (minimum possible supercruise speed) close to a ring, enter the DSS and shoot a probe into the ring. This will map the ring and identify any hotspots on it.
If there are any hotspots, they become highlighted after using the DSS. They will light up as orange circles or labeled spots and appear on the ring. They also appear on your navigation panel. Target a hotspot and drop into it. 

Now you’re in the ring. Start firing your Pulse Wave Analyser, keeping the trigger held down so you are continually pulsing. Various asteroids will start to glow. (“Not all that glitters is gold”: not ALL asteroids that glow are cores. More on this later.)

Cores have a number of visual tests. You want to look for brightly colored rocks with a particular shape. The shape depends on the type of ring you are in. Ice rings have popcorn shapes. In metallic rings they are teardrop-shaped. In rocky ones they are balls. Metal-rich they look like dog turds. Images below: 

If a rock does not have the shape for the type of ring it is guaranteed to not be a core. The brightest ones that have the right shape are POTENTIAL cores. Here is an example in an ice ring:

You can see it is bright yellow, as opposed to orange or shades of red. Ignore the various other colors, like green or red flashes. This rock is bright and has the correct shape for an icy ring. Now the last, and MOST IMPORTANT visual clue: As you approach a potential core, keep pulsing. A black grid will appear. It will become denser as you get closer. Here is an example of how black it gets. This is the same asteroid as the screenshot above:

NOTE: If you’re having trouble seeing, use your night vision. It can help to see the fissures when it’s on, and when it’s off you can see the glow better. It can also help you navigate in low visibility. 

So now you have an asteroid that passes all three tests:

  • Brightness
  • Shape
  • Black Grid

Those are the ones you fire a prospector limpet into. Fire a prospector then target it. When it hits the asteroid, the bottom-left hand panel will give you the composition of the asteroid. A core will ALWAYS have a blue text at the bottom of that panel saying “Core Detected: [Commodity type]”

How to Detonate a Core With an Optimal Yield:

Once you have identified a core, switch to the Seismic Charge Launcher. You will see multiple targets on the asteroid. Some will be fissures, some will be surface deposits and some will be subsurface deposits. Check the surface deposits. Sometimes they are valuable. If so, shoot them off with the abrasion blaster. Activate your collector limpets to pick up what you blasted out. Otherwise, stick to the seismic charge launcher and continue looking for fissures to target.

Fissure Strengths

Fissures have three basic categories of strength: High, Average and Low. Each refers to a fissure’s resistance to being blown up. To most easily identify the fissures with the resistance you’re after, choose the prospector limpet from your left hand “CONTACTS” panel then select the fissure you’re after. You’re now targeting that specific fissure.
NOTE: High strength fissures offer more resistance to the charge, this is why low strength fissures are better to start with. 
To fire a charge, press and hold the trigger. This sets the strength of the charge. When you release the trigger it fires. For a full-strength charge hold it down until the bar that appears in the centre of your HUD is full. For a half-strength (or any other strength charge) simply release the trigger when appropriate.

Charging Panel Information

Once your first charge is set a 120-second timer starts and your top-right info panel changes; it will have a “wave of pips” and three color codes.

  • The bottom color is Below Optimal (will yield roughly 8 tonnes of cargo)
  • The middle color is Optimal (14-18 tonnes)
  • The top color is Overpowered (4 tonnes)

In the middle color, you will see a “tick” on the right side. The key is to light that tick. Get that tick and it is optimal EVERY TIME. If it goes over into the top zone, go to Contacts on your left-hand panel, and disarm the last charge you set (you will most likely still be targeting it). The goal is to get an optimal crack every time and you want to do it with the least amount of charges. 

It should take around two high strength charges, fired into two low strength fissures to put a rock into the optimal yield zone. You may need to fire a third charge into a third low strength fissure to achieve this. See the image below for an optimal yield charge.

Once you get it into the BLUE zone, retreat to about 1km, and detonate the charges via Contacts. NOTE: You have 120 seconds from firing your first charge before the charges detonate automatically!

After the VERY big boom, head closer to the asteroid and activate your collector limpets. Your limpets will automatically collect loose chunks, as long as you are not targeting anything upon firing them. Use your abrasion blaster to shoot the remaining surface deposits off the rock and let your limpets collect the chunks.

Where to Sell Your Valuables

Don’t just sell things anywhere; look on for the best “Sell” prices. To do this click on the commodities tab at the top of the EDDB screen. This brings up a list of all the commodity types.

Scroll down to your desired commodity and click on it. This brings up a list of the top 40 sell stations for that commodity. Select a station with a recent price (the right-hand column shows when the price was last updated) and cross-reference with your galaxy map to find a sell station close to your location.

Using the “Find Commodity” function under the trade tab on EDDB is not useful as it has a 200ly range limit. Don’t get too hung up on getting the top sale price every time. If the second or third highest price is closer to your current location you may as well save time and get that price.

You’re looking at small percentage changes at the top end of prices. Also, player pirates will often camp out at top sell stations to intercept your loot, so picking a slightly lower price can come with less risk when flying in open play.

A Small Note to Finish

Be patient. Learning how to identify a core is the hard part. This takes some practice—in time you will get better at it. Once you have mastered core mining there will still be times when it can take a little bit of searching to find a core. This is due to how the cores are generated in the rings.

Sometimes you hit a patch where cores are right next to each other, one after the other. Sometimes you search for 30 minutes and find nothing. Patience makes a good and experienced core miner.


Smoke from the Galactic Academy and CMDR Valedhal2