How To

Minecraft mining guide

Patrick Devaney


This week we’re walking you through all the problems you might encounter when you first start playing Minecraft. There’s a lot to get the hang of with Minecraft so it is useful to have a solid understanding of the basics before you head off into the almost endless Minecraft world that is out there waiting to be explored.

Minecraft mining guide

There are two key aspects to Minecraft that all players need to master. You need to be able to mine and then you need to be able to craft the resources you collect into useful items. We’ve already gone through the basics of crafting so let’s today focus on mining. This is your guide on how to mine more effectively and efficiently on Minecraft.

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Minecraft mining

Different resources you can mine in the world of Minecraft

Minecraft ore
Image via: Minecraft Wiki

Mining involves digging into the ground in search of resources. There are many different types of ore you can mine available in the game. These include Coal, Iron ore, Gold ore, Redstone, Lapis Lazuli, Diamond ore, Emerald, Obsidian, and Quartz. Some of these are more prevalent than others, and each spawns in certain biomes. We’re going look more deeply at Redstone in another guide, but as this is a guide to mining and not a guide on resources, we’ll leave it there for now.

Different mining strategies for Minecraft

We have three effective mining strategies you can follow in Minecraft. There are more, but these three offer a great starting point. These are Cave mining, Quarry mining, and Branch mining. We’ll look at each now and then walk you through what you’ll need before you start chipping away at the world in search of riches and useful resources.

Cave mining

Cave mining is when you find a large cave underground and explore it for resources that are lying around. Cave mining is less labor-intensive as it means you won’t have to chop through stone to find what you’re looking for. It also means you won’t need to wear out your tools in the meantime neither. Cave mining is risky though because caves are dark and in Minecraft that means monsters and creepers can spawn. If you die before you can deposit the resources you’ve mined in a chest, you’ll lose them all. We’ll come back to this later though.

Quarry mining
Quarry mining
Image via: Minecraft Wiki

If rambling around in the dark underground seems unappealing to you, then you should start out with Quarry mining. A quarry is basically a big hole dug into the ground so that resources found in that particular area can be unearthed. Quarry miners will get their hands on lots of cobblestone, but they’ll also get every resource that was lying in the ground where they built their quarry. All you need to do to Quarry mine is pick an area and dig, then dig down again in the same area, and repeat. You’ll also need to build a stairwell or at least a ladder if you go deep enough to need them.

Branch mining

There is quite a lot of established thinking across the Minecraft wiki that says Branch mining is the most efficient way of mining. This is because most resources in Minecraft generate just a few layers above the bedrock and Branch mining involves digging down to this resource-rich area and mining there.

Branch mining
An example of a Branch mining plan via the Minecraft Wiki

To Branch mine efficiently choose an area and then dig down. You shouldn’t go straight down because you don’t what could be underneath the block you’re standing on. When you get close to bedrock you want to build a small tunnel, two blocks high and one block wide, and then build branches off that central tunnel. Make sure you light the way with torches though, so that monsters don’t spawn behind you. Once you’ve mastered this basic technique you can then develop further mining patterns off your central mineshaft trunk to ensure you cover the most surface area possible.

Things to remember before you start mining

There are a few things you should consider before you get started on your mining expedition. Remember how we said you can lose all your resources if you die before storing them? Well, we have an idea of how you can protect against that. Build a Mine office.

A bed to spawn, if you die

If you’re setting off on a serious mine expedition, you’re going to be investing a lot of time and resources. Just think of all the tools you’ll need to dig out all that stone. This is a serious business and you should treat it accordingly. Before you begin digging, or at least very soon after, you should build a Mine office. In it, you should put a bed so that you can spawn there should you die, a chest so that you can store all the resources you collect, a crafting table so that you build new tools to replace the ones you wear out, and a furnace for smelting any ores you unearth.

A crafting table to build new tools

The other thing you’re going to need, which we’ve mentioned already is tools. You can build tools using a crafting table and what you should take on a mining expedition is two stone pickaxesa shovel to dig out any pesky gravel or dirt, a sword to protect yourself in the dark, and lots of torches to fight back the dark itself. It will also be a good idea to take signs to point out the way in and out of your mine and food because digging is a hungry business. Once you’ve found your way down to a vein of ore, you’ll need specialist pickaxes like an iron pickaxe or diamond pickaxe to help get it out.

Wrapping up

There you have a fairly comprehensive beginner’s guide to mining in Minecraft. There are more advanced tips and tricks including using TNT, searching out abandoned mineshafts, and building rails and riding minecarts but for the new beginner, there is many hours’ worth of experience to gain from the tips laid out above, before you’ll need to push your learning further. The main tip we have for you though is to enjoy it. Structure your plan and be as efficient as possible. This is the quickest way to get your hands on the resources you desire.

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