How To: An Exhaustive Guide to Mining and Resource Collection in Minecraft

An Exhaustive Guide to Mining and Resource Collection in Minecraft

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While mining is a basic aspect of Minecraft, it is often overlooked. Every adventure requires iron and diamonds and other ore and if you're playing in hardcore mode then you need all the help you can get.

Few people know that there are better ways to mine resources outside of furious digging. 

Where to Look for Ore

Common sense will tell you that giant caves or holes in the ground are the best places to look for ore as it is often naturally exposed, but did you know that Minecraft uses algorithms to place block types? Not only that, but some rather smart folks have gathered data on where and how often they occur. 

Let's take this opportunity to give you some tools to help you mine most efficiently.

Below is a graph of every ore type and the layers from bedrock it is most commonly found. Keep in mind, layers in Minecraft are counted from bedrock (0) to sky (128).

An Exhaustive Guide to Mining and Resource Collection in Minecraft

These are the sweet spots for ore. Call it cheating or call it math, it does the trick.

To give you a better image to go by, here is a picture of ores all the way from bedrock up posted by Minecraftwiki user Dalbotex

An Exhaustive Guide to Mining and Resource Collection in Minecraft

Below is a graph of all Minecraft block types. The peeks are where they are most commonly found, and the troughs are where they are least common.

An Exhaustive Guide to Mining and Resource Collection in Minecraft

Branch Mining: Mine Smarter Not Harder

There are many different ways to pull ore from the Earth, but some are more efficient than others. If you can get your hands on enough TNT, the job is pretty straight forward, but that stuff is hard to come by. 

There are many great examples on the web of mining, from digging quarries to using water elevators to spiral staircase mining. By far, the most mathematically efficient method of ore collection is a method called branch mining. There have been dozens of tutorials for branch mines on the web since Minecraft Alpha, but they are often confusing and can be misleading. Let's keep it simple and sensible, and explain what branch mining is and how to best go about doing it.

When you think of branch mining, think of the branches of a tree. Branch mining is essentially digging through stone, dirt and ore in the shape of branches. It optimizes the amount of ore you can potentially come into contact with, while minimizing the amount of work required. When done properly, branch mining will reveal all sets of ore in a given area while only requiring that you remove 45% of all non-ore blocks.

Step 1 Go to Block Level 1

To begin branch mining, hit F3 on your keyboard. This will open the memory menu. You will see a lot of data about what's being generated in front of you, but you need not worry about the majority of it.

On the left side of the menu there is an X, Y, and Z-axis listed. You only need to worry about the Y-axis, which tells you your level from bedrock. The best place to start your mine is anywhere from level 1 to level 15, so start digging. Do not dig straight down! That's like rule number one in Minecraft. If you dig down, you could wind up in a group of monsters, fall to your death, or get consumed trying to swim in lava.

An Exhaustive Guide to Mining and Resource Collection in Minecraft

Mining from level 1 up to level 15 is the best range from which you will discover diamond, iron, redstone, and gold in the same places.

Step 2 Start Your First Branch

Begin by digging into the wall, in any direction, 20 blocks deep. Be sure you are digging horizontally, not vertically. This will be your first branch.

An Exhaustive Guide to Mining and Resource Collection in Minecraft

Now dig anywhere from 2-5 blocks to the right or left and dig 20 blocks deep again.

(1) Here is a branch mine that is 2 blocks wide. A 2 block wide branch mine will take the most time, but you will not miss any ore whatsoever. (2) Here is a branch mine that is 3 blocks wide. , (3) This branch mine is 5 blocks wide. This will take less time, but since diamond and gold ore usually only occur in groups of 2-4 blocks wide, you are liable to miss a lot.

As you can see, there are different methods as to how much you can mine in your branch mine and each has their own benefits. Decide what works best for you.

Now do you same on the reverse side, or behind you. The space in between each set of branches is your mine shaft. 

Step 3 Experiment with Levels

If after about twelve or more branches you aren't finding the ore you're looking for. Experiment with going up or down a level, but be sure to alternate your branches, or they'll merge into one. 

Here is an example of a branch mine with shafts stacked on top of each other:

An Exhaustive Guide to Mining and Resource Collection in Minecraft

Congratulations, you should be raking in the ore now!

Mining Pro-Tips

It's key to always be prepared when mining as there are many dangers to be found.

When mining at any depth always bring:

  • Torches: For light and to stop mob spawners from spawning monsters.
  • Food: For health and hunger.
  • Chests: To store your loot!
  • Lots of wood: 128 logs or more is a good start.
  • Swords
  • Armor
  • Bow and Arrow
  • A bed: For making a base camp.

A mistake people often make is to never store their loot. I cannot tell you how many times I've had an inventory filled with diamonds and loads of iron only to fall to my death in lava losing everything. If you are playing in hardcore mode, this is doubly true. 

The best method to avoid loss of loot is to make a base camp near your branch mine. Be sure that it is at least 5 blocks wide, long, and tall. Place your bed in it and sleep to set your respawn point. Anytime you collect loot you're not longing to lose, place it in chests near your bed. Remember that sleeping increases health when you're low on food!

Warning: You must be certain the corners of your base camp home are squared off! If corners are left open, mobs can spawn next to you as you sleep.

An Exhaustive Guide to Mining and Resource Collection in Minecraft

Mining can be rough and seriously time consuming, but think of the all the things we'd be without if we didn't spend those hours underground! 

By using this guide to branch mining you're guaranteed to spend less time underground looking and more time in the sun making epic redstone machines!

Show off your epic mines on the corkboard!

As always if you have questions or comments please leave them in the comment section below or post them in the forums. 

Follow us on Twitter @MinecraftHowTo!

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Another extensive and very useful guide, you should link this site to minecraft forums.

Good advice, I've been trying to plug these off site. My name is Carlosbear in game and in the forums if you ever want to comment or anything! Thanks

used this long before the guide but thanks for posting the ore levels, and the experimenting part, i never woulda tried that haha.

Yeah, it's a method as old as Minecraft itself, but it's still the best way. Enjoy!

So... what do you do when you run into multiple cave due to Mine craft's 'swiss cheese' geography? I try branch mining and I run into different cave systems CoNSTANTLY. It is a little overwhelming trying to light everything to where there is as low a chance as possible for Mobs to spawn. Any advice?

lol, personally, I just sprint as fast as I can and light up as many torches as I can. If possible, always make sure to have plenty of cobblestone in your inventory. Also, remember this advice: NO ORE LEFT BEHIND, and so help me NEVER EVER EVER leave coal behind. They give light, an invaluable resource when mining in more ways than I can count (general suggestion: make a bed and take it with you. Every once in a while, dig up a room, seal it up, and turn it into a small fallout shelter, bed, torch, all that good stuff . that way, if ur blown up by some random annoying creeper, you'll respawn relatively close. I haven't lost a single item due to monsters using this trick ).

Everybody always talks about how important it is to never dig straight down. What they forget to mention is to never dig straight up... I had the learn the hard way :(

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