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.

  • 2
    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
    Commented Sep 28, 2011 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
    Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 17:56
  • That would be pretty much perfect to have james. =(
    – Ken
    Commented Sep 28, 2011 at 19:45
  • That chart is outdated as of Minecraft 1.8 I'm afraid
    – badp
    Commented Sep 29, 2011 at 14:51
  • I died a little inside when I saw the 1.8 chart...
    – Ken
    Commented Sep 29, 2011 at 15:10

3 Answers 3


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.)

  • I'll check over this later and see if our conclusions align =)
    – Ken
    Commented Sep 29, 2011 at 15:11
  • Wait, 30 pickaxes but only 46 iron?!
    – Bobby
    Commented Sep 29, 2011 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
    Commented Sep 29, 2011 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
    Commented Sep 29, 2011 at 20:10
  • 1
    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.
    – Ken
    Commented Oct 2, 2011 at 0:36

Unfortunately, the math may be correct in the post above, but yields an incomplete answer. This chart only lists the ores mined and does not include the exposed ores. This means that in the chart above, a lump of 6 or 8 diamonds is only counted as 1 or two (or possibly none). In reality, that same branch mine would expose many MANY times the valuable ores for the same cobblestone. When you consider that for every 3 blocks mined, you are exposing at least 6 blocks (top, bottom, and two on each side), you can multiply the valuable ores by 6 (i.e 48 diamonds). If you further realize that most ores are in blocks minimum composing a 2X2 cube, you actually are "exposing" an additional area behind the seen blocks (for purposes of counting ores).
So the "exposed" block count is really 12 (four on each side, time 2 sides, plus two on top and two deep on the bottom). For the 7200 cobblestone, we are now up to 12 X 8 diamonds = 96. Of course, there is some additional pickaxe wear to go after these. Of course, my branch mine would go be constructed with three or four blocks between tunnels (three if I want virtually all ore, 4 if I am willing to sacrifice some for a possible increase in efficiency).

  • I go one step further and mine 7 blocks between side shafts from my primary mining shaft. After I've mined down my primary shaft further than I would like to run, I go back and mine the 4th block between each shaft, so they're ultimately 3 blocks between each shaft. When you account for caves, dirt and gravel pockets, that's the best way to cover a huge amount of territory per block mined, even though technically you're missing a bunch.
    – Ken
    Commented Sep 19, 2014 at 21:19

I tried with max (efficiency 5, fortune 3) diamond tools to mine in a branch mine + in the for ~50 hrs and here is the best 2-hour:

130 diamond ore,
70 gold ore,
110 lapis blocks,
220 RS blocks,
180 iron ore,
20 coal blocks (didn't mine it all),
10 emeralds,
2500 cobble.

Then I tried 2 hours with x-ray:

280 diamond ore,
110 gold ore,
140 lapis blocks,
160 RS blocks, 150 iron ore, 15 coal blocks (didn't mine it all),
25 emeralds,
2200 cobble.

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