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I've noticed that you get experience orbs from mining coal, redstone and diamond. However, you do not get any from mining iron. Is there a reason behind this, or is it a bug?

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otherwise you have inf experience by replacing the ore block and mining it again – ratchet freak Apr 15 '13 at 22:25
@ratchetfreak True, but imagine how much time that would take to get the XP. You'd lose a lot of tools as well – StackExchange User Apr 15 '13 at 23:59
use cobble pick for the mining (all renewable) – ratchet freak Apr 16 '13 at 0:05
@ratchetfreak if you mine cobblestone instead... – Alvin Wong Apr 16 '13 at 7:29
up vote 44 down vote accepted

You only get experience from non repeatable processes. If you could get exp from mining iron you could just mine a block, place it back down, then mine it again for more XP. When you mine coal, redstone, diamonds, or other blocks that drop a item when you break it you can't place the original block back and keep farming the XP.

For blocks that drop blocks (like iron) you need to smelt the iron in a furnace to get the xp reward as that is the "non repeatable" step in getting the iron.

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This should certainly be the accepted answer, but it's the OP's choice – StackExchange User Apr 16 '13 at 0:00
The previous answer simply answered the question, but this one goes into more detail as to why it works this way. I've updated the correct answer accordingly. – Gigazelle Apr 16 '13 at 1:38

Any ore that must be smelted into a bar, such as iron or gold, you get the experience when you do the smelting.

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The ores must be smelted. You get experience points when you get the actual resource. You do not when you get a 'needs to be refined' item.

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When mining you only get exp from coal or diamonds. Otherwise you have to smelt the ores into bars to get the crafting exp.

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Redstone, lapis, emeralds. – SevenSidedDie Oct 9 '13 at 20:59

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