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I'm aware of the other questions concerning efficient mining in minecraft, but they don't tackle the maximum ores per hour that you can mine using a diamond pick and an iron pick.

So accounting for use of iron or diamond tools and the wear on the tools, what is the MAX end result per hour of each ore that you can achieve? I say max assuming that you spend 100% of your time breaking blocks with no running back and forth to bank chests. I'm interested in diamond, redstone, lapis, coal, gold, and iron, though the cobble you get back would be a nice bonus.


After some confusion over what I meant I think it's important to clarify what I'm looking for.

There is the ore chart on the minecraft wiki that shows a roughly stable distribution of ore deposits between levels 12 and 16 (six blocks inclusive) on the game map. That's a popular area to mine as you're above most lava pools but still in the max average distribution range for diamonds.

Assuming you use the most efficient mining strategy for those six block levels to mine all ore blocks you see while mining, assuming a smooth average distribution of the ore, and assuming that there's no dirt or gravel and only stone where those blocks would appear, what will be the end result of ore "profit" after tool use for both diamond tools and iron tools after one hour of mining, assuming you're mining 100% of the time? If you prefer smoother numbers then 10 or even 100 hours is fine.

I don't think it's important to account for the slightly longer mining times of ores over regular stone as other inefficiencies, like walking to a chest to dump your ore, will hugely outweigh the slight difference in mining speed in practical use.

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I wonder is a "maximum" is worth calculating as the spawning of ores is random. The only useful measurement in mining is efficiency. Efficiency is the number of blocks you break compared to the number of blocks you see or the number of blocks you break compared to the number of ores you find on average. –  Bravo840 Sep 28 '11 at 17:44
There used to be an excellent forum post on the topic of mining that broke the different patterns down into ore per hour estimates based on density and mining rates. It should be worth while to find that post but I checked the 'Thread o Links' and it is no longer in that list. –  James Sep 28 '11 at 17:56
That would be pretty much perfect to have james. =( –  Kenneth Posey Sep 28 '11 at 19:45
I died a little inside when I saw the 1.8 chart... –  Kenneth Posey Sep 29 '11 at 15:10
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1 Answer 1

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I've done some number crunching and I think I have your answer for you. These numbers assume that (a) you use the mining method in the accepted answer you link, (b) that the ores are uniformly distributed, and (c) that you're running a version of Minecraft between 1.6.0 and 1.7.3 (the chart you link hasn't been updated for 1.8 yet).

Mining for an hour with ~30 iron picks should yield you:

  • 7,201 cobblestone
  • 77 coal
  • 308 redstone
  • 46 iron
  • 8 gold
  • 8 diamond
  • 37 lapis lazuli

Similarly, using ~6 diamond picks should get:

  • 9,166 cobblestone
  • 98 coal
  • 392 redstone
  • 59 iron
  • 10 gold
  • 10 diamond
  • 47 lapis lazuli

As you can see, the iron and diamond yields are far below what goes into the picks. In other worlds, through solid stone, you operate at a loss. Caves make an enormous difference when it comes to mining efficiency.

(All this, of course, assumes my math is correct. Feel free to double-check my work in the spreadsheet.)

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I'll check over this later and see if our conclusions align =) –  Kenneth Posey Sep 29 '11 at 15:11
Wait, 30 pickaxes but only 46 iron?! –  Bobby Sep 29 '11 at 18:31
@Bobby — That's how the numbers work out (it sounds suspicious, I agree). Remember that this is pre-1.8, though (when iron was less common), and that it ignores caves. –  Ben Blank Sep 29 '11 at 20:09
True, pre-1.8 caves were one of the vastest and fastest ways to get resources. I'm not sure if this still applies, didn't have that much time. –  Bobby Sep 29 '11 at 20:10
I got vastly different numbers than you when I worked it out just now, and I think the problem is that you didn't account for the fact that you don't account for mining the ores that are exposed when you mine the straight shafts. My numbers are almost exactly 4x those of yours because of that factor. =) That would also explain why it seems mining with iron picks is a loss, where in my calculations you come out about 2x as much iron as what you used to mine. –  Kenneth Posey Oct 2 '11 at 0:36
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