Elites of Minecraft: The Miner

The Miner
by Featherblade


A Quick Introduction

One of the many questioned topics in Minecraft is how to make the best mine. Being a game with the title 'Minecraft', this is to be expected. Many wondrous ways were devised to scour the deep of all metals and manifest you can hold, but often the threads of such topics don't quiet get to the point of what is actually the best way to mine.

This thread was made to show you all research and data on the dark depths, as well as hints and techniques to mining, to become a master Miner in the rare and magnificent. If you have any information, send me a PM and I will add it in if relevant. Now read on for the tips and techniques!

Practical: Click Mining

It was a method where you would click immediately after breaking a block. It is now outdated due to a patch update.

Practical: Non-Click Mining

AlmtyBob wrote: There's also a method for doing it without a click between strikes. If you watch the breaking animation you'll see it cycle through 10 breaking overlays on the block. There's a small but usable window of time during that 10th breaking overlay where you can mouse over to the next block you want to break and your original block will still break while that next swing (that would have been a miss) will hit your next block. This obviously won't work when you're tunneling directly forward as you can't mouse to the next block if it's currently obscured.

This trick here achieves the same, if not better results as click mining. It may/may not obsolete Click Mining, but I'll keep both up for options. I have tested this method, and it works well. It requires more skill than click mining, but it is a worth while venture if you can practice it. This Mining Style should reduce wait time to nothing, and even start the destruction of the next block, at increased risk of not destroying the block completely if you are too fast or slow.

If you do it right, you can shave off approximately 0.154-0.160 seconds off of your block* destruction!

  • Tested with cobblestone and wood, approximation due to error in skill and stopping the timer.

...now, that doesn't seem much, but take a look at this table. (Credit to Crixinmix)


Take away 0.160 from Smooth Stone with an iron pickaxe, and you're almost exactly 30% faster! Do it with dirt, and you're a whooping 60% faster! (with iron shovel). This gives incredible destruction speed to any Miner, no matter the style of mine, or even if it's true mining. This skill still applies to logging, building and demolition in general.

Now here is where skill plays it's cards: If you let go and re-click before the block is destroyed, you lose all progress on destroying it. This can waste that half second you just made up through speed mining. If you re-click too late, you will not gain any time on destroying the block with clicks over a hold. Also, you must be prepared to change how fast you click on stone, coal, iron, cobblestone and dirt with a range of tools to make maximum benefit with no down time.

All in all, this is a skill which when mastered, leads to far faster game play, and keeps you active when solid stone mining. When applied in conjunction to a efficiency mine, you can make yourself an Elite Miner fast.


Ores: Macro Studies

Macro studies is the investigation of ores as a whole, including distribution, depth and numbers per thousand blocks. This gives us exact numbers to guide where to place our mines, and also gives probabilities to estimate how much iron, gold or diamond we can expect to receive from a particular mine.

Ores: The right Depth

Any semi-confident Mine-crafter would have realised that the deeper you go, the more types of ore you get. There is a clear pattern visible when viewing ores as they get nearer to the bedrock, creating the best mining spots right above the lava level. Using NBT Forge, one can get a lot of data on ore deposits in relation to depth.

In NBT Forge, the vertical layers are counted with 0 being the last layer of adminium on the map. This means you must count the bottom of the world as '0', not '1' to get accurate results.

Here is a short list of the vertical locations of minerals.

  • Diamond: Normal up to 16, virtually none at 19, none at 20.
  • Gold: Normal up to 32, virtually none at 35, none at 36.
  • Iron: Normal up to 64, virtually none at 67, none at 68
  • Redstone: Normal up to 16, virtually none at 19, none at 20
  • Coal*: Normal up to 128, virtually none at 131, none at 132.
  • Estimated using previous values. May take effect on 'deep' infdev maps if ever implemented.

One thing to note about ores is that the number of deposits are relativity the same after the first 4 levels of them first appearing. This means no matter how much deeper than 64 you mine, you will always get the same amount of iron deposits, and size of deposits.

Other facts relating to depth: [Water] Sea level is at 63 [DBlock] Apparently the bottom of the sea is never below 53 [Lava] Lava level is at 10 [opblock] Adminium gets progressively thicker from 4 downwards to 0.

So, do you know where everything exists now? This explains why iron can never be found in mountains, but sometimes on the beach, and diamonds always seem to be close to lava: they can only be up to eight blocks away.

This is where mining ores gets tricky. We have several layers of different ores and liquids all creating problems for miners trying to mine the rarities while avoiding danger. Here is a side view of the world.


Credit to iamahedgehog who made it way cooler. Each layer holds what was in the last layer, plus the new ore. The diamond layer also has redstone in it. It doesn't take an expert to analyse this, but there is only 6 spaces above lava that contain normal deposits of diamond. A total of 8 spaces above lava can be gleaned off the zone, but otherwise you must cut down past the lava. The total space diamond occurs in that is economically viable, discounting the lava is only 12. This is the 6 above the lava, and 6 going into the lava towards the adminium layer.

Conclusion: The deeper you go, the more ore types there are, although there is not any extra of the lower tier ores. Diamond can only be found in the bottom 12 layers, just above adminium, so a horizontal mine is necessary for diamond collection.

Ores: Quantity and Probability

It is possible in any mine to work out how much ore you are likely to make, based on the number of blocks mined, and the efficiency of the way you are mining. We can get accurately estimate how much ore we will get from any number of strikes of the pickaxe, all depending how good your mine is.

To start off, here are some raw figures in graph form:


Credit to RoosterDragon for making this graph. And here are the results as follows.

   RoosterDragon wrote: Some numbers for stuff in the 12-17 range, average quantity of ores per 1000 blocks:
   0.82 Diamond
   0.89 Gold
   4.59 Iron
   6.28 Redstone
   8.99 Coal
   0.47 Water
   1.39 Lava

Credit to RoosterDragon for gathering data.

These figures are the number of ores that can be found per thousand stone. This means, for example, if you were to mine one random block of stone while blind, you have a 0.82 out of 1000 chance to get a piece of diamond. This number doesn't seem very high at all, but then again, who said you're blind?

Later in the guide, I will tell you about efficiency and how it is calculated. For now, just remember that every block seen over the number of blocks mined is efficiency. With that in mind, we can make increase the chances of striking gold (literally) and see the claustrophobic world around us inside the mine.

Now, in a standard branch mine, you have an efficiency of four to see around you. That is, for every two blocks you mined, you also saw 4 blocks on your left and right, and another two blocks in the ceiling and floor. This totals up to 8 blocks seen.

So lets take a value from the quote. I'll pick iron for this one. Iron has a 4.59 over 1000 chance of existing in a stone. If we take that value, and times it by all the stone we see (eight in this case), we can find the chance you will find iron ore with every hit

8x4.59/1000= 3.7%

Not bad. With every 2 blocks destroyed (or 8 seen), we get 3.7% iron. Halve that to get the value of one block, which is 1.83% iron per block. That means for every 54 blocks of stone we mine, we'll get 1 iron ore.

Substituting our time costs for mining stone with a diamond pick, we can say it will take 23.22 seconds of mining for every ore we make!

Easy? Sure! It's just a little bit of number crunching, nothing that a few minutes can't handle. Here is a little table of values for probability to find each ore, and time it takes to mine for each ore. Blocks mined per ore uses the formula 1/(4(Probability/1000)), and time uses (Blocks Mined per ore)x0.43

Coal: 27.8 Mined per Ore, 12.0 Seconds per Ore. Iron: 54.5 Mined per Ore, 23.4 Seconds per Ore. Gold: 280.9 Mined per Ore, 120.8 Seconds per Ore. Diamond: 304.9 Mined per Ore, 131.1 Seconds per Ore. Redstone: 39.8 Mined per Ore, 17.1 Seconds per Ore.

Clear, concise and covered. The average amount of ore the perfect miner should pull in with any time frame can be calculated by this, so you can compare yourself to see if you can match or better these results in less time.

Just remember that this is the time per ore, not per ore deposit. This literally means every 2 minutes spent mining underground yields one diamond. That means it takes roughly eight minutes to mine 4 diamonds, a standard diamond deposit.


D0SBoots wrote: Here's the raw data pulled from the file, in order of how they're generated. (Things that go later get preempted by the things that came earlier.)

   Code: Select all
          Ore   | Rounds | Level | Size |
       Dirt     | 20     | 128   | 32   |
       Gravel   | 10     | 128   | 32   |
       Coal     | 20     | 128   | 16   |
       Iron     | 20     | 64    | 8    |
       Gold     | 2      | 32    | 8    |
       Redstone | 8      | 16    | 7    |
       Diamond  | 1      | 16    | 7    |

   Ore: The type of ore (although Dirt isn't an ore, it's formed the same way.)
   Rounds: How many times this type of deposit is generated per chunk. It happens in rounds, one after another.
   Level: The range of levels this can appear on. The true range is [1ish, Level+3+size/8], although the ends of the range are very unlikely.
   Size: The all-important tuning parameter that controls both length and breadth of deposits. You can expect the max size on a deposit to be *roughly*        

Here is some interesting information provided by DOSboots that can be used to help predict ore dispersion. Notably, there are definite numbers to the dispersion of ores within a chunk. This is important as this is the only clue towards ore formation relative to map area.

The large segment of interpretation below shows the importance of this information.

D0SBoots wrote:The most important way is this: There's only 1 diamond deposit per chunk! You don't notice this right away when you look at ore maps, because humans are bad at perceiving "true" randomness - true randomness is clumpier than we expect. The way diamond is created, it tries to create exactly one diamond deposit, per chunk, somewhere in the layers 0 through 15. The x and z locations are evenly distributed in that chunk, and then 8 is added to both - i.e. the boundary is offset. 2 is also added to the y coordinate, and then the offsets of the y axis are chosen in the range (0,2] on top of that. The upshot is that a deposit can start as low as layer 2, and end as high as layer 19, but those are very rare and the bulk is found in layers 3-18. Also, diamond generation happens last, and diamond is only generated on top of Stone blocks - so any dirt, gravel, lava, adminium, etc. that was placed earlier effectively overwrites the potential deposit. This is one of the ways you end up with 1x1 and 1x2 deposits.

Unfortunately, this information can't be put to much use as far as practicality goes. The offsets place diamond very effectively at random, so you cannot 'avoid' mining an area because you found diamond near it already.

Ores: Micro Studies

Micro Ore studies is the practice of looking at each single deposit, and making calls about how to it dispersed, and how it reacts with erosion and other deposits.

A lot of the earlier information that was here is now out of date. More information will be put in when it has promise for being used somewhere.


One big part of mining is to remove blocks in a pattern that gives the most ores and minerals in the shortest amount of time. The less smooth stone smashed to get to each granule of gold means the less tools used up, which means you don't need as many minerals in the first place.

Here I have collected a variety of mines, and described their efficiency relative to ore mining. I will also state any negative or positive side effects of mining in such a manner, so that a person can mine to their needs.

Efficency: Calculation and it's relation

The efficiency of a mine is the number of blocks exposed [b]and mined over the number of blocks mined.[/b] The blocks that are mined are not added to the calculation for blocks exposed for we would have to mine them anyway, and they are required to be air for the mine to function as it is. Each block is counted instead of just calculating the surface area as one block can have up to 6 faces, but it will still make no difference in the amount of ore received. Once a block is seen, you have no further need to mine around it (discounting the deposits factor).

Efficiency has a few different limits for how high it can go. We can say there is a real term efficiency and a extended efficiency.

The real term efficiency is the efficiency of your mine at the moment. Every countable side is recorded, along with the number of blocks mined, then you go through a standard efficiency calculation. The highest theoretical real term efficiency is 7.0 . This is due to the fact a single block can have 6 exposed sides on it, plus the block itself, although it would have no entrance nor would the miner be able to see the ore. The highest practical efficiency is 6.0, which can be obtained by a block in stone with a hole in the roof. Real term efficiency changes constantly, and often towards the worse. In most cases, extended efficiency should be used to compare mines.

The extended efficiency is the minimum efficiency a mine can go, assuming the mine extends into infinity. By making a set pattern, and tessellating it, we can work out the efficiency for one segment, but counting the sides we know will be covered by the infinite tessellation. What this means is that the mine can never go below that efficiency. The efficiency will stay the same regardless of what's happening in the actual mine, and is always lower than the real term efficiency. The highest efficiency attainable using a extended efficiency is 5.0, but is only applicable for vertical mines. The highest extended efficiency is 4.0 for hallways and walk segments.

Here is an example for an extended efficiency diagram:


One must look at this as a 3D image, as well as understand the infinite aspect. Here we have a cross section of a Branch Mine: the spaces mined are 'branches' off of a main 'trunk', and each branch goes on forever forwards and backwards. The dirt is spaces mined, goldore is spaces seen and stone is not seen. Diamond ore is the spaces indirectly seen, although we won't be using those for now. Now lets calculate effciency.

First things first: How much have we mined? There is 4 dirt, that makes 4 spaces mined. Now how many have we seen? From the dirt spaces, you can see a gold ore is touching each side. These are all spaces that can be seen from mined spaces. If you look carefully, you'll notice that the gold ore on the bottom left and top right is not connected directly to a mined space (dirt). This is because the diagram is wrapping from the top to the bottom, and the left to the right. We can count these gold blocks to give us 12 blocks seen.

However, we were not blind when we mined our original four: We must add those into the blocks seen.

In total: 16 blocks seen, over 4 mined. Efficiency = 4.

That's how to understand diagrams on a basic level. To make your own, you must look at overlapping views, and it can get quiet complicated. Be very careful when plotting extended diagrams, as mistakes are rampant. It should be a rule of thumb to make sure the top left corner is a mined (dirt) block. This keeps diagrams tidy, and allows for comparison.

The efficiency itself is one of the rating you can give a mine. The higher the efficiency, the better the mines is. Another rating is mining density, which can be both good or bad, and transport time, which is a big issue for low density/high efficiency mines.

Density: Calculation and it's relation

The density of a mine is the number of blocks mined over the area of the mine in meters squared. If you were really picky, you could also use meters cubed to find the density of a real 3D space.

Just for the sake of keeping everything tidy, there are two different types of density: Real term Density and Extended Efficiency.

The Extended Density can be used to find the density of a particular mining pattern, with the assumptions that caverns do not exist. I could find the density of the mine by counting every air block in the mine, and divide it by the space it exists in.

For example, I have an extended grid mining pattern. I will attempt to find the density of it:


Firstly, we collect the number of spaces mined over the size of the diagram. That turns out to be 4 mined blocks (the dirt ones) and 36m^2 for the size

In total: 4 blocks mined over 36m^2 (times 100 to get a Percentage). Density = 11.1%

This mine clears out 11% of the stone on it's Z-Level. That's a very low amount of stone dug out, but it tends to miss some ores. Now ill get the extended diagram for a vertical mine grid:


Here we have a vertical grid mine. This diagram is orientated as if you were looking at the ground. Just like the Branch Mine, each space dug can be though to go forever up and down. Here we dug out 5 spaces in a 5x5 grid (25m^2). That's 5 over 25.

In total: 5 blocks mined over 25m^2 (times 100 to get a Percentage). Density = 20%

As you can see, this vertical mine has twice the density of this Branch mine cross section. With further examination, we would find that this mine also guarantees that all the ore in a vertical space is gone.

Now, it is possible to work out the density of a mine in a 3D space, however, it requires usage of real term density. Real term density is basically the EXACT density of your mine in game. Now, there are so many assumptions made, such as ignoring adminium, lava and caves, that the exact measurements become distorted and impossible to obtain. Because of this, it is unwise to calculate and compare a 3D space. Instead, you are better off staying with 2D diagrams, as they are accurate without a case study (actual mine to take infomation from).

Mining Style: Open Pit Mines

Open pit mines are the most basic of all. they are generally used to gather immense amounts of sand, gravel, dirt or cobblestone. They have the advantages of having none or few ladders and stairs, and they are able to save on torches by using the sun to provide light, albeit only during daytime. One must remember, that this IS the only way to gather sand in massive amounts, so there should always be one in a world.

They do, however, have virtually no efficiency as very few blocks mined are actually touching stone, so very few are capable of hiding coal deposits. You are also left with a giant scar in the land which needs rehabilitation.

Stats: Efficiency: 0 to 1 (the stone seen at the bottom of the pit. It can get to a maximum of two efficiency.) Density: 100%, as you retrieve all of the targeted resource in a given area. Transport Time: Virtually none. A staircase can be used to speed up that minuscule second.

Mining Style: Strip Mines

There are two types of 'strip mines' in relation to mining. The real world example of a strip mine is where a rock or mineral is mined on mass, then the hole is backfilled to rehabilitate the land. The minecraft definition for a strip mine is a large area where all materials are removed, useful or otherwise. We will be working with the Minecraft definition, as the real world one is not often used nor talked about. The difference between a strip mine and a open pit is that the strip mine doe snot receive sunlight, and is not open for everyone to see.

A strip mine is considered one of the best ways to get lots of cobblestone, or to clear a large room for underground construction. It is very dense, so one mine can provide a lot with minimal travel time, although that same factor limits the number of ore you come across. Strip mines themselves are inefficient when it comes to ore: Efficiency is low as often large spaces of air are left without any exposure to a rock face.

Overall, strip mines are only good for mining raw cobblestone, with a chance of other ores (although that is rare). Because efficiency works better with lower density mines, miniaturization is the key to mining in minecraft, and thus, all future mining styles revolve around minimal stone mined, whilst making the mine itself larger as a whole.

Stats: Efficiency: Below 2. This efficiency decreases dramatically though. Density: 100%, as you retrieve all of the targeted resource in a given area. Transport Time: Virtually none near the surface. A boat lift can used near bedrock and a staircase near surface.

Mining Style: Vertical Mines

The vertical mine is the first specialised range of mines. These mines offer high efficiency if built right, and can be arranged into patterns from the surface for organisation. They can be back filled easily and can even use sunlight instead of torches. Here is an extended diagram of a 5x5 vertical mine:


We have 5 seen (Mined block included) for every 1 mined. This gives us an efficiency of 5.0 . We also have 5 blocks mined for every 25m^2. That gives it a density of 20%. To compare a Branch mine at lava level to a vertical mine, we must remember that Vertical mines will offer a decreased yield of diamond and gold. This is shown by how layer work in the section "The Right Depth". For example:

You created a vertical mine at a height of 64, and went down to bedrock without incident. If we look up at our statistics in the ores section, we can see that: 100% of our mine gave us coal, 100% of our mine gave us iron, but only 45.76% of our mine would be in the gold layer or below, and only a meagre 18.64 of the mine will be in diamond territory. If we compare this to a branch mine with 4.0 efficiency:

We would receive 120% coal and iron over the branch mine, but only 57.2% gold and we would get only 23.3% diamond. This makes a 5x5 vertical mine a bit better for finding iron, but very much worse at retrieving diamond or gold. This gives us the first specialised mine! Yay!

The best grid formation for vertical mines is still in theory, but any idea's on the best way to lay out vertical mines,PM me. So far, the most dense grid devised so far (contributed by Conundrumer) is the 5x5 Vertical Mine pattern we studied before:

Extended Diagram:


Stats: Efficiency: 5. This efficiency is the highest possible for any extended mine. Density: 20%. (5 over 25) Transport Time: Medium. Pillaring gives a one way exit, while a ladder is time consuming to make. Staircases and boatlifts are impossible without a Vertical docking station.

This cross pattern is benifeted by it's relatively low density (roughly 20%), and it will gather all ore. It is likely however, that a slightly less dense mine could bring in the same amount of ores, due to deposit generation and non-efficiency factors. This style is still better than a straight grid of vertical mines with two spaces between, and should be used instead.

Due to deposit sizes and arrangement I can show you a new way to arrange vertical mines and still mine all ore.

When you remember that a deposit must have a minimum of 4 ores, arranged in a 2x2x3 box, it becomes easy to see that each deposit must be taking up either a flat 2x2x1 size or a vertical 2x1x2 size.

Here is a Medium Density Vertical Mine:


Efficiency: 5. (Maximum Possible.) Density: 12.5%. (Low) Transport Time: Medium. Pillaring gives a one way exit, while a ladder is time consuming to make. Staircases and boatlifts are impossible without a Vertical docking station.

And another Low Density Vertical mining pattern that will only miss a few ores:


Efficiency: 5. (Maximum Possible.) Density: 7.7%. (Very Low) Transport Time: Medium. Pillaring gives a one way exit, while a ladder is time consuming to make. Staircases and boatlifts are impossible without a Vertical docking station.

Now, lets do some probability analysis on these two types of mine. This larger Vertical low density mine (with indirect mining) will occasionally miss ores. The chance of a 2x2x1 ore deposit occurring is 3/25 (from a sample of 50). We take that value and times it by the number of times it can be placed on the extended graph in a without touching any seen blocks (Including wrapping edges). This number turns out to be 13/169.

13/169x3/25=0.92% of ores missed. The number of standing 2x1x2 deposits was too small to count from my samples, so Ill leave them out. This one percent figure is so small, even This leaves us with an extremely low density mine, although only a small percentage (18.64%) of this mine will be able to give diamond. This does however make it the best iron mine in game.

Mining Style: Grid Mines

One of the first major breakthrough in mining technology on the forums was the grid mine. The grid mine boosts some of the best traits for a mine. It has fairly high efficiency, can be adjusted for it's density, and can be easily mapped out using co-ordinates.

Grid mines have many problems in relation to branch mines, such as very high ore loss in a low density grid, and very low efficiency in a high density grid. The grid (especially if you use small pillars) can be very disorientating, so it needs markers to be of use, especially if it's big.

As the grid gets bigger, it becomes more efficient, but it misses to many deposits. With close consideration to the size of the mine when improving it's efficiency, transportation becomes unbearable. You can easily get lost in a maelstrom of tunnels and pillars. A more organised branch mine is recommended. This has dubbed the grid mine as a outdated mine, so no diagrams will be shown to save space and characters.

Mining Style: Branch Mines

Currently, this is the best solid stone mine in relation to efficiency. It offers one main branch which goes east to west, or north to south, and has corridors. or 'branches' splitting off it. Since the corridors offer near optimum efficiency, and they are repeatable, you have a low density mine that is not confusing like a grid mine. Travel time grows, but extra shafts down can be made if needed.

With thanks to Stryth, there is now a video showing the Branch Mining Style. Thread Here. This video shows you how to Branch Mine without annoying forum pictures, as well as shows you how to create ore maps via Cartograph and Gimp.

The extended efficiency diagram for a branch mine shows the intersection of the branches, followed by the length of hallway between each intersection. Diamond ore counts for areas mined, but not counted due to being part of the branches.

A branch mine with 3 wide segments:

Stats: Efficiency: 2.25. This is a false efficiency due to the mine being made in two different segments. Density: 33.3%. This is always the density of a branch mine main segment. Transport: It is very easy to start a new mine from a new branch point, but travel time is high on the way back.

The efficiency is not as high as expected, but you must remember this is only the main branching hallway. Side hallways will have an efficiency of 3.0, can extend into the distance and two entrances to each hall are made with every segment of the main corridor.

As well as superior efficiency and organisation, the main corridor can be lengthened with shorter branches to cut transport time, or have longer branches with minimal corridor for maximum efficiency. The only downside is the lack in density, which leads to large transport times if new entrances or minecarts are not used.

Sub-Mining Style: Parallel Branch Mines

One way to completely negate horizontal transport time is to use a parallel branch series. Essentially, set up two branch mines parallel to each other. make the branch segment run between them. Every time you end one branch, you can walk to the start of the next branch and tunnel back.

Because you are always mining, there is no horizontal travel time. A mine track or canal on each main corridor will increase possible length of the corridors, and further reduce time taken to vertical travel points (e.g. A boat elevator).

The parallel mine style can be applied to any branch mine, or even other types of mines (e.g. Grid Mines). It can lead to towns or communities working together, as the miners can stop at either end to unload stone, ore or trade goods. This could lead to high productivity regions and ridiculous amounts of growth.

Sub-Mining Style: Branch Mine Cross Sections

An argued point on branch mines is how to arrange them in a 3D space.


4 Mined, 16 seen. Efficiency = 4 (Extremely High) 4 Mined, 16 square meters. Density = 25% (Low) Overall: Good for totally clearing an area of ore.

This diagram shows a High Density Branch Mine. You will see nearly all stone, making it optimum for total exploration of an area. However, using deposit models, we can make our hallways of a bit lower density using deposit data.

E.g, this is what a mine reveals: ( Using same legend as before, plus [DORE] = Blocks not seen, not mined, but indirectly seen via deposit size.


This is the minimum you can reveal from a mine,as the smallest deposits possible are 2x2x1 squares of ore, laid flat. We can arrange them comfortably into an extended diagram:


4 Mined, 16 seen. Efficiency = 4 (Extremely High) 4 Mined, 32 square meters. Density = 12.5% (Very low) Overall: Clears out almost all ore at maximum efficiency and very low density.

Lets do a little analysis on our high and low density styles. I'll run through some quick probability tests and compare both types of mines. Of my sample of 50 vein deposits, 6 of them were 2x2x1 in size. This gives a probability of 12% of ores being of this type. These ores when placed randomly on a extended diagram, fit in two horizontal spaces. The amount of space on the diagram in which they can fit without hitting a seen block (including wrapping edges) is 8/32, or 25%. This makes the chance of getting an ore deposit size 2x2x1 in an area where it cannot be seen is 25% times by 12% (0.25 x 0.12) equals 3%.

Remembering that information, lets compare density. If we get both densities (High density is 22.2%, low density is 12.5%) We can see that the lower density mine will be 56.3% less dense than the other mine, effectively making it take half as long to make the same size as a high density mine.

If your high density branch mine gets you 100% diamonds, the low density branch mine would give you 212.6% ores in the same time, minus 3% from the earlier probability worked out before.

Overall, you'll get 206.2% more ores with a low density branch mine than a high density branch mine. In the same time frame. This is absurdly better, and should be used instead of a high density branch mine, but only if you know how to mine deposits properly (Explained in the Deposits section).

List: Branch Mine Conclusion on Cross Sections

Here is a list of different Branch Mine Cross Sections and there stats. They are ordered by density, and will show an ore ratio in relation to the high density mine. This is so that you can get a clear overview of all the different cross sections, and to find out which one is actually best.

High Density Mine


Efficiency: 4 (Extremely High) Density: 25% Ore loss: --% Ore in Relation to High Density Mine: 100% Overall: Compact, and guaranteed to strip the area of all ore. Useful when the mine is in a constricted area.

Staggered Dense Mine


Efficiency = 4 (Extremely High) Density = 22.2% (Low) Ore Loss: --% Ore in Relation to High Density Mine: 125% Overall: 25% less work than a full high density mine, but is also that same % bigger.

Mid-Density Mine


Efficiency: 4 (Extremely High) Density: 16.6% Ore Loss: --% Ore in Relation to High Density Mine: 148.5% Overall: A combination of much lower density with very little ore loss leads to this larger, more efficient mine.

Vertical Cross-Section Mine -opps, I lost this image.- Efficiency: 4 (Extremely High) Density: 13.3% (Very Low) Ore loss: --% Ore in Relation to High Density Mine: 174.9% Overall: This style stacks horizontally well, as it has a floor. Again, lowered density with little ore loss.

Horizontal Cross-Section Mine


Efficiency: 4 (Extremely High) Density: 12.5% (Very low) Ore Loss: --% Ore in Relation to High Density Mine: 175% Overall: This style is much flatter than other mines, so stacks well vertically. Ore loss hinders possible gains.

Low Density Mine


Efficiency: 4 (Extremely High) Density: 11.1% (Very Low) Ore Loss: --% Ore in Relation to High Density Mine: 200% Overall: Despite holes in the grid, ore loss is outweighed by lowered density. The biggest mine so far.

It is interesting to note that each tier down with density increases the Ore Discovery in relation to the High Density Branch Mine by a block number. Before deducting ore loss, each tier downwards gave 125%, 150%, 187.5%, 200% and 225%. I calculated the Ore Discovery in relation to the High Density Branch Mine by dividing the fixed density (25%) by the mine density.

These gaps could show for extra un-thought of cross sections that will fill these gaps. It is also good to note that Ore loss plays a major factor in determining the actual ore % in relation to the High Density Branch Mine. I used the raw figures 2/50 for a vertical flat deposit, 6/50 for a horizontal flat deposit, and a 32/50 figure for a 2x2x2 deposit. The 2x2x2 figure was the most influential on the lower density mines, and will probably be the focus of any newer mining cross sections that come out.

Mining Style: Spelunking

Ever since caves appeared in our Infdev maps, a new and obvious means to getting ores revealed itself. Simply by running around the labyrinth of mazes, you could pick up a ton of ores and find yourself reasonably close to where you started when you mine to the freedom of the surface.

The caves offer some very obvious advantages: A lot of stone is already hollowed out for you, and veins are already exposed. You will find your tools won't run out as fast, as ore takes no more durability from a pick than a stone. Since you have less stone, your inventory will fill with rarities of all sorts, making spelunking unique.

There are numerous disadvantages, however: Mobs will often mass underground, and can cause stoppages. Progress can be slowed down to a crawl while timid 'crafters try to lay torches to hold back the tide of monsters. Mob spawners can be a huge problem if not dealt with correctly, and all of layers 10 and below are totally submerged in lava (inside the cavern area, wherever a cavern exists below level 10, lava will be present inside it).

Diamonds are hard to find as caverns often don't linger within the diamond layer. This is partially balanced by the speed achieved from running without stone restrictions, but it is still far easier to find iron or gold than diamond in a cave, relativity speaking.

It is hard to quantify spelunking: entire regions have been found to have cave systems, while others are solid stone all the way down. Block area and efficiency are impossible to calculate, and only density is estimable. The best results about caves are the practical tests: Many people will leave a cavern with as much ore as stone, and have enjoyed their time.

Conclusion on Mines:

Not done yet. Will be done soonbold for irony.


Time is an important factor in any construction. If you cannot access your digging area, then you obviously need better transport. There are various different methods of travelling, both vertically and horizontally which will decrease the time you take to store goods, making your mine more efficiency.

Vertical Transport:

So, you want to start a mine, but you don't know how to get down? Here is a video of a Boatovator!

To construct it, simply make a 2x3 hole from the surface to the mine (usually to layer 9, so water doesn't flood everywhere). You can make it easier to get into the boatovator by making some flat water next to the waterfall, so that you can get onto your boat before it sails up.



An Edit log for this thread.

  • November 4th: Added a few facts contribute by DOSBoots to the thread. Updates held up by ore loss calc. issues.
  • October 9th: New youtube video for Vertical Transport.
  • October 8th: New youtube video for Click Mining.
  • October 6th: Re-replaced the forum diagrams due to bandwidth issues.
  • September 29th: Replaced the forum diagrams with actual pictures, and lost the vertical cross section diagram :(
  • September 26th: Added Quantity and Probability to the Miners geology section.
  • September 24th: Added all raw deposits data from multiplayer.
  • September 23rd: Added a ton of information about indirect mining with a branch mine.
  • September 22nd: Added Video on Branch Mining. (Courtesy of Stryth).
  • September 18th: Added subsections to the Branch Mine, and added info to it, Also added new info to vertical mines.
  • September 17th: Added information on Deposit formation, and continued research on ores.
  • September 16th: Redid a few errors, completed densities on a lot of mines. Starting on deposit theory again.
  • September 5th: Did a lot of the density section. Not complete though.
  • September 2nd: Fixed up ctrl+f links and added conclusion and density sections.
  • September 2nd: Finished up branch mine section.



For anyone who helped somehow in the creation of this topic!

  • Taodih: For the 'guides/tutorials/tools' Thread.
  • Crixnmix: For the chart of values on block destruction times.
  • AlmtyBob: For suggesting the Non-Click Mining technique.
  • Aeomin: For developing and releasing NBT Forge, which has been undoubtedly useful with ore research.
  • Conundrumer: For a high density Vertical Mine pattern.
  • iamahedgehog: For making the Ore chart tidier and easier to read.
  • RoosterDragon: For an incredible graph on block quantities, and for a suggestion of High Density Branch Mines.
  • Stryth: A great Video explaining branch mining. Here is the Video.
  • Hans Lemurson: For exposing errors with my ore loss calculation, and making me realise how hard I am to understand.
  • DOSBoots: For providing unimaginable amounts of data relating to ore deposits and generation.