When I'm not exploring fresh caves or lands in minecraft, I'm busy trying to find deposits of diamond, gold and iron deep in the earth. So far I've just been digging around just above bedrock on a whim to look for these rare minerals but I've started thinking that I should be taking a more controlled, efficient approach to mining.

What is the optimal mining strategy that yields the most rare minerals while minimizing blocks removed and time spent digging and traveling?

Edit: The existing answers are great for mining, but no one has addressed travel time to and from the mine which is usually ~60 blocks downward and incredibly tedious. Solutions?

  • 1
    This is a bit late, but I like to use a diamond pickaxe with efficiency and fortune 2 or 3 while mining. This helps maximize rare loot while also reducing time spent. Also, with the new aquatic update, you can dive mine, meaning that when you dive into water, you get stuck into a crawling position, allowing you to make a 1x1 hole instead of a 2x1, saving time.
    – Some Guy
    Commented Apr 8, 2021 at 21:55
  • 1
    TNT mine, you use tnt and explode it in a strip mine. sure some ores will get destroyed but it is worth it, first make a creeper farm, then dig sand for 10 - 15 mins with a iron shovel. You will easily get 2 stacks of tnt. I found 32 diamond ores just by exploding tnt or 40 mins.
    – RyugaGod
    Commented Apr 30, 2021 at 4:43
  • Using water elevators would probably be the best for to and from the mine, dig two 2x2 holes with one block of space separating them, fill them with water,( you can use kelp to turn flowing water into water sources, then put magma blocks on the bottom of one and soul soil on the bottom of the other, Commented May 3, 2021 at 12:40
  • I find mining down to level 8. Then, I dig out the entire chunk 2 blocks high...16x16 are two high. This is my base room. Then, I go to the north west corner and dig north, placing a torch whenever the light level gets to 1. I continue to dig north , placing a torch at light level 1( this light level, when a torch is placed makes the light level between this torch and the last one you placed to never dop below light level 8 at the midway point between the torches. Commented Sep 1, 2021 at 19:16
  • So are you saying we need to bounty this? Commented Apr 28, 2022 at 18:29

27 Answers 27



Branch mining is the most efficient. There's a mathematical analysis on it in the official forums (the link is to an archive of the post).

Here's a brief description of branch mining:

  • You dig down to the bedrock, because that's where you're going to find the most different kinds of stuff.
  • One or two layers above the bedrock, so you don't have it interfering with your work, you dig a long tunnel, 2 high and 1 wide, which will serve as the trunk.
  • Then, every 4 squares on either side of the trunk, you dig perpendicular tunnels extending out 20 blocks (or as far as you want).
  • You leave 3 undug blocks between because veins are generally 2x2 horizontally, so you will see ore in the vein even though there is technically one row of unexplored blocks.
  • When you finish that layer, you can start one a layer above, offsetting the branches by one block so that you are more likely to find veins you could possibly have missed the first time.

So essentially, a long hallway (the trunk) with perpendicular hallways (the branches) coming off either side.

██▒▒▒▒▒▒  ██ blocks you should mine
██▒▒▒▒▒▒  ▒▒ blocks you can see
▒▒▒▒██▒▒  __ blocks you can't see if you don't mine ▒▒ blocks (there's none!)
▒▒▒▒██▒▒  Repeat this pattern as many times as needed

From a head on view


As with any mine, travel is most easily accomplished using minecarts.

You can place a booster to get your cart traveling at max speed in a short distance so that you can make the trip up quickly, and you can even attach chests to mine carts to carry all your findings from the mine up the track very quickly.

Short of minecarts, make sure you're using stairs and ladders to their fullest potential. You don't want to be jumping up one block at a time all the way from your mine to your base.

  • 4
    What does the trunk look like in this case? And how do you get down and up from a surface-level base in a reasonable amount of time? Commented Oct 2, 2010 at 1:13
  • 3
    @Nick youtube.com/watch?v=Az4KihqqRGk
    – jblaske
    Commented Oct 4, 2010 at 16:36
  • 55
    This optimizes for minimum space usage. In my opinion, that's a poor choice. I mine vertically downwards, then spiral out horizontally, two blocks between the spiral arms for optimal coverage. What do I win? Time! After 100 tiles dug I'm only 9 tiles away from the vertical shaft, where I have the main storage, crafting, etc. Branch mining suffers from en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schlemiel_the_Painter's_algorithm : after 100 tiles dug you're 100 tiles away from your starting point.
    – Joren
    Commented Dec 11, 2010 at 2:06
  • 2
    You didn't seem to finish reading the thread, as it states that the low density mine is twice as effective. Commented Jan 8, 2011 at 16:11
  • 2
    @Joren, branch mining is meant for special resource collection. You'll need to do a lot of branching to get to diamond either way. The truth of the matter is that the running time is marginal compared to the mining time if you bring enough picks of the right kind. I'd suggest mining 10-16 blocks above bedrock for optimal diamond collection.
    – zzzzBov
    Commented Feb 19, 2011 at 6:11

There is a great wiki with some number crunching.

I use this in single player:

▒▒██▒▒__▒▒__   ██ blocks you should mine
▒▒██▒▒__▒▒__   ▒▒ blocks you can see
__▒▒__▒▒██▒▒   __ blocks you can't see if you don't mine ▒▒ blocks
__▒▒__▒▒██▒▒   Repeat this pattern as many times as needed

Normally, I have a 2x1 trunk, and branches like a standard branch mine, but instead of just going outwards from the trunk, I go up one level and out, skip two blocks, then down one level and out. I leave two blocks between branches. And I leave two blocks between floors, and line up the branches the same between floors.

There are some areas left unexplored by this pattern, but they are thin, and it is unlikely that a diamond vein with spawn entirely within that narrow region. (About 3% will). The larger number of blocks uncovered are far more likely to contain diamonds.

If your high density branch mine gets you 100% diamonds, the low density branch mine would give you 212.6% ores in the same time, minus 3% from the earlier probability worked out before.

Also, you ought to build it so that the floor of the lowest tunnel is on level 11, to avoid falling in lava. If you find that there are few cave systems near your mine, feel free to dig lower, but caves tend to cluster, and caves level 10 and below are filled with lava.

I dig my main tunnel on both sides of the area I want to cover, then dig back and forth in a zigzag patten, which means I'm always digging, never walking.

I'm not sure if this is true anymore, but it used to be that larger deposits were formed by the word generator in multiplayer, so you were less likely to miss diamond deposits when using a wider mining pattern. Thus, this pattern

▒▒██▒▒____▒▒____  ██ blocks you should mine
▒▒██▒▒____▒▒____  ▒▒ blocks you can see
__▒▒____▒▒██▒▒__  __ blocks you can't see if you don't mine ▒▒ blocks
__▒▒____▒▒██▒▒__     Repeat this pattern as many times as needed

is more efficient.

As for transit? I use a long two wide straight staircase that goes all the way to bedrock. Minecarts work well for getting me deep into the mine.

  • 2
    What do the diamond / gold blocks represent in the above diagram? Possible revealed diamonds (gold) / and possible hidden diamonds Commented Feb 9, 2011 at 3:46
  • 1
    The Gold Blocks are for blocks directly shown, while the diamond blocks are form indirectly shown blocks. If you do find something in the gold blocks, then you will mine it and see the diamonds blocks. Mostly, just look at the gold blocks. Commented Feb 12, 2011 at 15:13
  • 6
    @badp, Dr. Dag nab it... I finally got my head around what the images were showing only to refresh the page and find them replaced with much clearer representations. Why must you be so helpful?! :P
    – Aeo
    Commented Feb 22, 2011 at 18:06
  • 7
    @Badp I think the images were fine, if anything they are less helpful now. Commented Feb 22, 2011 at 18:23
  • 4
    I am really confused by that diagram. Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 22:33

If you're not married to building a completely man-made mine, the answer is to find a deep tunnel.

Getting down to the bottom is correct, as that is where the highest concentration of useful minerals is located, but digging a tunnel doesn't expose you to nearly the same amount of blocks as using a generated cave system.

In my primary game, I dug a mine down to the bottom, clearing out a large amount of stone, which only resulted in some coal, and very few iron, where as at the bottom I discovered a cave network (filled with lava, but some water solved that), which resulted in a large amount of coal and iron, as well as diamond and gold.

  • 13
    +1 for less maths, more observation. It's always going to be faster to use a pre-dug cave.
    – deworde
    Commented May 27, 2012 at 14:26
  • 1
    Maybe I'm way off, or maybe this is newer (I don't men to necro, but I was really curious and this is an amazing post), but it always seems I run into lava in pre-dug caves way more often than ones I make. Does anyone know if this is accurate, or just bad observation? Thanks!
    – BrainFRZ
    Commented Jul 19, 2017 at 0:06
  • 1
    You just observe it more if I recall lava has the same generation chance no matter where, just caves are more open by default. Mine higher perhaps?
    – Codingale
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 15:49
  • 2
    @BrainFRZ Necroing is okay (sometimes even encouraged) here.
    – MilkyWay90
    Commented Sep 6, 2019 at 1:35

Just dig 2 high in one direction for a very long time, say around an hour... it's not like you'll run out of map.

Then move 3 or four along once you've used half of your axe/s, and go back to where you started.

This will yield more in terms of ore versus time, as you are not mucking around walking between shafts and veins, and are spending almost all the time mining. Bring with you a diamond pick axe, and a shovel, since dirt and gravel still spawn underground. Use the cobblestone you will inevitably mine for traversing lava pools, and make sure you have torches (place them every 10 or so blocks).

  • 18
    I was thinking this too - loads of people talking about "maximum coverage", but it wastes a load of time - faster mining = more resources. Commented Feb 15, 2011 at 18:54
  • 5
    This is faster only for the first few mining sessions. After you mine for long time, you quickly get to a place where you have to run for a very long time to get to new area to mine. The methods described above take a little more planning but in the long term they do seem a lot more productive (just based on my own experience of doing it both ways). To be fair though, it does depend on what you want. Doing this simpler way will probably get you a couple stacks of diamonds before you've used up all the mining area near your base, which is plenty if you only want picks/swords.
    – TM.
    Commented Nov 15, 2011 at 18:43
  • 6
    After the first stack of diamond it just gets ridiculous.
    – legacy
    Commented May 7, 2013 at 13:04
  • 1
    @legacy – so true! Commented Oct 8, 2014 at 19:59

In regards to getting to and from your mine:

My solution is to never leave the mine. Bring down some saplings, some wheat seeds, and whatever else, and build your base underground near your mine. It's a lot safer and more predictable than living on the surface, since you can completely light your cave system.

The only downside is that eventually your character turns pale and starts muttering about "My precious..."

  • 6
    I've always enjoyed seeing massive underground homes, my friend had one that went for at least 100 chunks in each direction and was surprisingly beautiful.
    – Codingale
    Commented Sep 7, 2017 at 15:51
  • Love the reference to Lord of the Rings! Commented Jun 20, 2022 at 0:55

All of the previous answers focus on minimizing blocks mined. However, if you're interested in minimizing time, there is a vastly faster late game strategy than anything discussed above.

The approach, is to use a Diamond pickax, enchanted with Level 5 efficiency, and a Haste level II Beacon. With this setup, you mine stone instantaneously and can clear cut vast swaths of stone in very little time, exposing significantly more blocks / minute than with branch mining.

Ethos discusses this in one of his videos.

  • 5
    This is way superior to other methods for late game, nice post!
    – Sadly Not
    Commented Jun 13, 2014 at 17:40
  • 3
    This is definitely the way to go. I've got half a stack of diamond blocks after a few hours of mining this way. Note: it's not cobblestone that mines instantly, it's stone. Cobble actually mines the same speed as ores, which is slightly slower normally and doesn't get the instantaneous effect with Efficiency V / Haste II
    – Johonn
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 1:26
  • 3
    Also, this question should be voted higher. From the OP in a comment below: "...I was mostly interested in ways to dig out large swaths of solid rock..."
    – Johonn
    Commented Aug 1, 2014 at 1:33
  • yeah but to get a beacon you have to kill the wither, and you can't trap it because the stupid thing breaks through any block you can place. no thanks.
    – Michael
    Commented Jan 8, 2021 at 23:17
  • @Michael: With diamond armor, you can pretty much beat the wither to death and not worry about health at all. Go for it! It's fun!
    – John
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 22:03

I've found that no matter which mining pattern I used I my diamond finds were barely enough to keep me in diamond pickaxes for mining diamonds. It was a vicious circle. I've started mining with TNT now and it's much faster. Here's how I do it:

I use the branch mining technique. For a branch off the trunk I'll use 64 TNT and 32 torches. I'll dig a 2-high tunnel off the trunk, placing a torch every 10 blocks in. When I run out of torches I know I'm 320 blocks away from the trunk.

Now I'll place a block of cobblestone on the ground at the very end with a block of TNT on top. Then I back up while placing cobblestone on the ground only, putting a block of TNT on top of every 5th cobblestone block so there are 4 empty spaces between TNT blocks.

When I get back to the trunk I set off the TNT and then run along behind the blast placing torches on the wall as I go. When I get to the end I walk back to the trunk mining whatever I see along the way and picking up anything on the ground.

Each trunk takes me about 30 minutes to dig, blast and mine. I use only a fraction of a diamond pickaxe in the process. I've been mining 12-13 levels up from the bottom and getting 15-20 diamonds per trunk. The most tedious part is collecting the sand to make the TNT. I have a mob trap that I use to collect the gunpowder at night.

Give it a shot and see what you think, it's working well for me. I have mine cart tack with periodic boosters running along my trunk line to get me back and forth to my storage area quickly.

  • 7
    Interesting idea, I may try it - I definitely have to agree that my diamond-finding just barely stays ahead of usage. I don't know where people get all these diamonds...
    – Cyclops
    Commented Mar 14, 2011 at 2:30
  • 10
    I usually mine with iron pickaxes. The speed-difference is tiny. Also, enchant your diamond pickaxe to get Unbreakable on it. Makes it last longer. Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 21:21
  • 6
    How do you find so much gunpowder to make this amount of TNT? Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 2:30
  • You need to put max-ranked Unbreaking enchantment on your diamond pickaxe. Without Unbreaking you kind of end up going for a "breakeven" approach.
    – Pat
    Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 18:58

I've dug straight down to bedrock as well and at the bottom carved out a 40 long by 20 wide room 4 high. This netted me a full stack of redstone, lots of lava. 2 diamond, lots of coal, almost no iron.

The straight down to bedrock approach I find is really good for redstone but not much else. I find that in the generated caves there is a lot more ore along the walls. So you really need both I think.

I've made a waterfall going down my vertical bedrock mine shaft and shoot up to the top with a boat for fast surface access.

  • 11
    Digging straight down to bedrock mathematically will net you more iron than redstone, since more of the dig has a chance to find iron. Hollowing out an entire room wastes time, so if you're going for efficiency that's definitely not the way to do it. The reason you seem to find more ore in caves is just because there is so much surface area. Overall, however, ore in caves is LESS dense because of all the blocks "wasted" with open air. Commented Oct 15, 2010 at 19:43
  • @StrixVaria: No, minerals actually do occur more frequently in/near caves. Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 19:49
  • 12
    @BlueRaja I'm not taking your word for that unless you have mathematical evidence to back it up. Otherwise I'm attributing it to increased surface area easier access, not increased spawn rate. Commented Oct 27, 2010 at 19:52
  • But even if it is only easier access, your harvest over time seems higher in caves even if some measure like your harvest over squares passed through is not.
    – clweeks
    Commented Oct 28, 2010 at 14:07
  • 1
    The size of ore deposits in caves is about half that of when digging, as the ore get replaced with air. That being said, it's cheaper (at least in peaceful) to mine, since it doesn't use up your pickaxe. Commented Jan 8, 2011 at 16:27

Dig down to bedrock with a staircase. Then make a room about 10 by 10. Finally branch out on each side of the wall. Pick one side and go with it untill it is to long. Then get another side. Once all four are branched, branch off them. I now have about 15-20 BLOCKS of diamond 20-23 BLOCKS of gold like 30-50 stacks of coal no red (I don't mine it just go around) and 40-45 BLOCKS of iron all totaling about 7 hrs of work


This a well covered question already but the technique I personally use isn't listed so I figure I'll add it to the mix. It isn't the technique for strip mining a chunk and extracting absolutely everything but it does expose lots of extra unseen blocks.

It is much faster for quickly gaining things you want, it's incredibly easy to do, and is also less wearing on your pickaxes.

Getting down to and up from the mine:

Use water held up by a sign at the bottom of a 1x1 shaft that is straight down starting up at the surface for dropping to diamond ore levels.
To make it, dig a 1x3 section (so you don't mine beneath your feet) leave one side open for the drop shaft, fill the middle with cobble, and place ladders in the other shaft.

The drop can be as great a distance as you want as long as the bottom of it looks like this:

o = Stone
X = Dug out
W = Water
S = A Wood Sign
L = Ladder

o X o L o
o X o L o
o X o L o
o W o L o
o S o L o
X X X L X ( This is the mine )

The drop is quick and completely safe. I use ladders for the return trip up but, if you prefer, (I think they take too long to make and are unreliable) you can make boat-waterfall ladder for coming back up.


1: Dig the standard 2x1 tunnels away from your entry point. I personally do this standing at Y: 9 so I occasionally run into unexplored caves but, if you are scared of cave mining, do it at Y:8 or Y:7. I don't suggest going to a lower depth than this because bedrock can get in the way, and ore veins that are beneath your feet will be smaller.

2: Every 4th block into your tunnel dig the upper blocks in a 1x1 shaft as far as you can reach on both sides of your tunnel. If you see an ore you like, dig the bottom out and go get it!

The view of walls of your 2x1 tunnel would look like this

x = dug out
o = stone
o o o x o o o x o o o x o o o x o o o x o o o x o o
o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

Extra optional step:

3: If you want to squeeze more out of this type of mine, return once you have finished a good section and bring pieces of TnT. Place them in the back of the 1x1 shafts in the sides of your mine and set them off with Flint n Steel. I don't always do this because making TnT is a pain... but it does work.

General Mining Tips:

1: When mining always place torches on the right wall. When you want to come back just turn around and follow the torches that are now on your left. This is a very helpful technique for not getting lost in any mine exploring or digging.

2: If you have a well enchanted diamond shovel, dig out the sections of dirt you come across. High level shovels obliterate dirt at an insane speed and this typically reveals interesting stuff.

Hope this helps!


Have you ever thought of getting the minions mod? Once you get it you have to get up to 8 levels of experiance (8 levels is recomended) then you press the "m" key then commit to evil in which you then pick one of three things, repeat untill you get the master staff, with it you right click the ground four times, one minion will appear wherever you right click in those four times. Once you have your four minions, you press the "m" key again and select the "dig mineshaft", once you have selected(right clicked) where the mineshaft is going to be, your minions will automaticly dig the mineshaft down into bedrock and place a cobblestone staircase. Once they finish that then you can press the "m" botton (once again!) and select "strip mine", once you have selected an area then one minion will work on it, going a certain number of blocks forward.

  • If you place a chest once your minions finish mining and right click on it then your minions will put all their items into the chest so you can get the items. Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 21:45
  • If you left click them when they're mining then it will act like you're wipping them and they will work faster. Also, they're invincible! Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 21:52
  • 2
    If you think of additional info, it should really be edited into your answer, not left as a comment
    – shanodin
    Commented Aug 15, 2013 at 1:36

When you find a dirt vein, pursue the dirt vein till it is exhausted (usually coming away with 5-10 coal, with the potential of getting 5-10 iron, 2-6 red, 2-6 blue, and/or 1-5 gold.) Dirt is so much easier and cheaper to mine, since you only need a shovel, and it mines twice as fast as cobblestone.

When you hit bedrock mine out all the dirt, and open a huge main mine area (roughly 75/75 blocks. You can get another 40 or so Iron, 20 or so Gold and Diamond, and atleast another 120 redstone (Well, that's what I got anyawy. I might have been really lucky).

Also, to save on resources, use stone picks and shovels instead of iron.


Referring to your edited question about the distances to and from your mine:

For the way down to my mines I usually use a minecart.
For the way up, this would be a nice construction: Piston Elevator


I find the easiest way to get to the bottom of a mineshaft is to set your ladder 2 blocks onto the wall. That way you can carefully fall almost the entire way to the bottom and simply hold the backwards key to reattatch yourself to the ladder just before you hit the ground.

  • 4
    You could also place a pit of water at the bottom so that you don't die if you don't quite grab the ladder Commented Jan 8, 2011 at 16:25
  • 3
    Old tactics, this does NOT work anymore. When you fall past a ladder block you take falling damage. The fast way down is to jump into water. It's safer if you jump through a ringed hole rather than just off an edge, this ensures you're properly lined up when you hit. Commented Jan 8, 2011 at 18:43

try to find a huge, generated cave, the deepest place of that cave sometimes has diamond. Most of the time you'll find dungeons too, if you set your difficulty on peaceful, its very easy to get it

  • 2
    Thanks for answering. I was mostly interested in ways to dig out large swaths of solid rock rather than exploring natural caves. Natural caves do tend to have a lot of ore though! Commented Apr 28, 2011 at 17:23

personally for getting up and down I use 2 vertical shafts, one completely filled with water, and the other with a 1 block deep layer of water at the bottom and use a boat

  • why did this user get deleted
    – Asadefa
    Commented Mar 20, 2019 at 2:19

Addressing your travel concerns:

Dig a shaft straight down, with water a block or two deep on the bottom, for fast downwards travel.

Build a Nether portal on the surface, transfer to Nether to spawn a matching portal there. Jump down your drop shaft, then build another portal on the bottom - it will be close enough that it should link to the same Nether portal as the surface one (but the spawning algorithm should have placed the Nether portal closer to optimal coordinates for the surface one so it will be still preferred when traveling from Nether), so you will only need to exit and reenter the same portal in Nether and you'll be transported from the bottom to the surface portal.

For horizontal travel underground still nothing beats railway - if you plan to use horses, you will have to make rather big corridors.

The advantages are definitely cost and simplicity of both solutions (note: you can cast the portals with lava buckets instead of digging obsidian, if you don't want to make a diamond rock pick) and speed - both solutions are faster than most of alternatives offered by others.

The disadvantage is Nether portals are somewhat fickle. Your portal might link to the bottom portal instead of the top one, if the corresponding Nether space happens to be an extremely tall chamber. If you have any other Nether portals within several chunks, chances are you'll get linked to their corresponding Nether exits instead. It's nothing you can't overcome with a calculator, a stack of Netherrack and 10 blocks of obsidian (sorry, can't cast lava into Obsidian in Nether) to place a portal at the correct point in Nether manually, but with a little bad luck the trivial task becomes a rather daunting one, if the "correct point" happens to be an air block far above an enormous lake of lava. Nevertheless, always build a housing around the Nether portal so that a stray Ghast fireball doesn't extinguish it.


The easiest way to mine is to mine a 2x2 tunnel horizontally. You can cover 8 blocks that way, with the same amount of blocks mined as a branch mine, which only reveals 6 blocks. As for getting up and down, use a water fall cushion (to jump into, must be 2 deep) and a water LADDER (check the youtube videos to see what it is).

  • 16
    A 2x2 tunnel takes 100% longer to mine and only reveals 33% more blocks compared to a 1x2 tunnel. That is clearly less efficient. Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 4:12
  • A 2x2 tunnel a paair of 1x2 tunnels separate by 3 stone blocks will reveal
    – Pat
    Commented Jun 23, 2021 at 19:07

A nice method if you don't like staircasing down is to mine a 1x2 tunnel down to bedrock and then using water to get up and down. To get down, drop a water bucket in and then remove it to float down with the water. To get up, simply place blocks of water above you and then remove and replace them to work your way up. Also, mining around y 3-6 is a good strategy.

  • While the "going down" side of you mining tunnel is fast, the "going up" is not. I would recommend using minecart rails with boosters to go up. More work to have it usable, but it would make faster travel (on the way up, and on the way down too.
    – Lysarion
    Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 19:31
  • @Lysarion: I used to use this strategy to look for diamonds and it works pretty well. I don't think it's that hard to go back up.
    – Nathan2055
    Commented Apr 10, 2013 at 22:59
  • 1
    @Nathan2055 Lysarion said "slow", not hard. It's not hard, it's just a terribly slow way to travel. Ladders are faster, even. Commented Aug 7, 2013 at 16:24

Disclaimer: this answer was posted when Minecraft's newest version was 1.14., however, most of the information provided is relevant in later versions too.

There have been quite a few possible improvements to mining since most of the other answers were posted.

First of all, transportation from the top to the bottom: water elevators. With update 1.13, water mechanics were improved, including a easy way of setting up super fast water elevators.

All you need on the way down is the old school method: water at the very bottom prevents any damage from a long fall.

On the way up, however, you can put Soul sand under a water elevator, which gets you to the top in a matter of seconds, and as a bonus prevents any drowning because Soul sand produces bubbles, as shown on the image:

Soul sand.

Next, you can fit into a space that is one block high! There's two methods of getting this working.

  1. Using an Elytra to fly into the small space by flying into the one block. Here's the setup:

One block.

It may seem like you will have a hard time mining with your head in stone, but you do not take any suffocation damage and the point of view looks like this:


  1. Swimming into the hole. This method is very similar to the Elytra method. You place some water, start swimming in it and swim into the 1x1x1 gap. It is easier to set up than getting an Elytra, but it requires having to carry a bucket of water at all times.

Unfortunately, as of version 1.14, both these methods were massively downgraded, as there is a huge movement speed penalty (maximum speed is about the same as when sneaking), because the player remains in the flying/swimming position:


Even after the downgrade, the blocks revealed over time ratio is still slightly higher than digging a 2x1 corridor, and you don't have your head stuck in the block above anymore.

The final tip I have is using subtitles. This may seem like a dumb or useless feature to use while mining, but for me it works like a cave finder. If you are mining around Y coordinate 10, which most players do, you will be able to track nearby caves very easily. Whenever you see the subtitle "lava pops", you know you are near a cave. Look in the direction the subtitles tell the sound comes from, and start digging. The sounds that are coming from a distance and are detected by the subtitles are nearly undetectable by plain listening (at least for me).


So, if you like exploring caves, this is the way to massively boost your chances of finding one.


Here's a good method for getting up and down from your mine quickly without needing elaborate water elevators or expensive minecart tracks.

First, get some sticks and build at least one full stack of ladders.

Then, dig a single-block column into a mountain two-high and three long. Place a torch at the far end on top for lighting. Then dig three down into your column, and place your ladders heading up to the face of the mountain where your column starts.

Dig away from the ladder into the column, two blocks high and three blocks out, and then down as you did with your initial colum, placing torches and ladders in likewise positions. Continue to mine downward in this manner, and you should have a 'staircase' that looks like this: (X = Walls, O = Open Space)


What this creates is a three-deep 'step' that you can walk down without having to worry about fall damage, and a ladder back to the surface going the opposite direction.

It may take a bit of experimenting to get it just right, and you can't hesitate when walking into it or you'll accidentally climb the ladder a little and take some fall damage (very minor). To reduce the chance of this, you can use a two-deep step instead, though it won't be as fast going down.

The additional benefit of the three-long column is that the middle of each 'step' makes a perfect starting place for branch mining once you reach your desired depth.


i would like to add some (CREATIVITY) to the branch mining.

conventional branch mining is explained above. also in seven sided die's answer there is mention that veins occur in 2x2 blocks.

we generally think mining in term of 2d lets consider the third dimension.

made an illustration showing the method

(this is just an illustration) so the wool is to show that 4 spaces are left between corridors.

reason for leaving 4 spaces :-

  • (Assuming that veins occur in 2x2 blocks) the vein has possibility of appearing in center 2 block (out of 4 wool block i.e pink and blue wool in this figure) so it can be spotted while mining corridors on alternate floor (1st , 3rd , 5th, .....)

  • same rule of possibility of spotting veins apply to corridor on (2nd , 4th , 6th, .....)

  • the above shows the possible center block vein. block adjacent to cyan and maroon (in shown figure) can be easily seen so no doubt about that.

so this method reduces number of blocks mined and increases efficiency with respect to time.

Key assumptions : veins appear in 2x2xX(there is very very less probability of generating 1x1x1 vein ).

  • This will lead to you discovering the same vein multiple times, which is clearly a waste. Therefore, alternate floors are only good if you want to get every single vein in the area, due to space constraints for your mine.
    – MrLemon
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 9:36
  • actually the alternate floor concept was came in my mind while playing dwarf fortress. it had helped me a lot. now i am applying it in mine craft it will definitely help here .
    – Fennekin
    Commented Sep 22, 2015 at 15:23
  • An easier way to swim into the hole is to use trapdoors. Proof from SkipTheTutorial's What is the fastest way to mine in Minecraft 1.16 video Commented May 10, 2021 at 18:46
  • Well that's a good option.
    – Fennekin
    Commented May 11, 2021 at 8:01

I took this to the extreme and after of ~30 hours of minecraft with maxed out equipment I got this results:

Cave mining: ~80 diamonds, ~350 iron ore, ~90 gold, ~250 redstone blocks

Branch mining: ~140 dia, ~200 iron, ~60 gold, dunno how much RS

Mining out a space 100x100x10 blocks (exactly): ~15 dia, ~100 iron, ? gold, ~150 RS blocks.

X-Ray, 2 hours: ~280 dia ore, ~150 iron, ~110 gold, ~20 RS blocks, 25 emeralds.

Each method was good for somthing: The cave method for Iron & RS, the Branch mine for diamonds and the last method for losing time, getting tons of stone and breaking every last one of your pickaxes. Then the x-ray method was super, max diamonds, no coal, no Redstone. That's it.
Note that the branch mine has each branch, even the main ones are 350 blocks long.

  • does "x-ray" mean what i think it does?
    – Michael
    Commented Jan 8, 2021 at 23:20
  • @Michael yes, yes it does mean USING PISTONS TO SEE THROUGH WALLS OR AS I LIKE TO CALL IT, cheating. Commented May 10, 2021 at 18:49
  • @Kirbychu That wasn't what I thought x-ray meant. Although, creating an identical world with the same seed but in creative mode and running commands to replace all stone, dirt, sand and gravel with air might be considered cheating as well I suppose.
    – Michael
    Commented May 10, 2021 at 20:15
  • @Michael what did you think "x-ray" meant? Commented May 11, 2021 at 13:50
  • @Kirbychu see my above comment
    – Michael
    Commented May 12, 2021 at 22:17

There are different strategies for different ores. Gold is most common in mesa biomes. If you can find a mesa biome, try to go mining around in it, you will soon find gold.

Diamonds are most common between height 5 and 12. If you try strip-mining, I recommend mining forward for how long you want, then turn and mine a few blocks in another direction, and then start mining the opposite direction that you started mining at. This way, you will not miss any diamonds. If you are in a cave, try mining around lava, or look for diamonds near lava. If you are near height 5-12, there are very likely diamonds near lava, and you can find diamonds buried in some stone nearby, where people could miss. I have found diamonds buried in stone near lava lots of times.

I don't have many tips for emeralds, but if you don't know, emeralds can only be found in extreme hills biomes, and found between levels 4-32, but height level 11 is your best option. Emeralds can also be found in village chests, villager trades, and drops by illagers during a raid.

Ores can be easily found in caves, since caves are already hollowed out, while you need to mine all the stone to get the ores when you strip mine. if you can't find any caves or you only strip-mine, then try to go to level 10 to find good ores. When you end up in a cave, try to explore it, you can find lots of ores in caves.

For transportation, I recommend you use minecarts, as minecarts can let you get around fast, and does not waste your hunger bar. If you are unable to get get or use minecarts, you can dig a very deep hole with water on the bottom, making you fall in the water, so you don't take fall damage. To get back up, make a water elevator with soul sand at the bottom, as the soul sand will cause you to go launching up to the top at a very fast speed.

Warning: some of this might not apply for 1.17+. If you are reading this after 1.17, I recommend not using these tips.

  • Yup, emeralds can only be found in extreme hills biomes. Minecraft tips are a reason I know this, but does anybody read them anyway? Commented May 10, 2021 at 18:51

This is an update regarding all the new version released since this question as been asked as to date it is the 1.8.X).

Mojang made some change in the generation of resources and cave. As the branch mining was used by almost all player, Mojang decide that this was not supposed to be the best case to Find resources, as the cave where supposed to be what they wanted be the ground generation was bad at that time.

So to counter optimised mining (using tech as describe above on the layer 11 so you don't have lava lake).

So they change to generation code to make more resources spawn inside cave, and create better cave around the Map.

Exploring is now almost always more efficient then optimise mining. You can still use optimise mining so you can find part of the cave at the good range of level for diamonds for example (like this you can have diamonds, redstone, lapis, iron and gold).

  • 3
    Do you have any references to back up the claim about resource generation being changed? I find it hard to believe, and the wiki doesn't mention anything of that sort. Furthermore, caving was always more efficient, due to having more surface area exposed, but is also limited by the existence of caves.
    – MrLemon
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 11:10
  • @MrLemon I uncompiled the code and watch the algo for generated ressources, and futhermore it was what Notch wanted. If i remember correctly they change it with the 1.8.0 .
    – Slayner
    Commented Dec 29, 2015 at 11:48
  • The [wiki](minecraft.gamepedia.com/ore) DOES mention something on the history chart, at 1.8,says that ore generation is faster. @MrLemon
    – John
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 9:41
  • 1
    @John nevermind them, they just like to donwvote if they need to work to find answer
    – Slayner
    Commented Jan 21, 2016 at 10:01

As of the most recent 1.17 snapshot, caves have increased in size, length, and complexity, and diamonds now have "reduced air exposure". The best way to search for diamonds is now to go as low as possible (near y = -64), and go swimming in the new giant underground lake caves, as they have large amounts of exposed diamond even compared to the cave walls.

Update: This new cave generation has been moved to 1.18, releasing in fall 2020.


A good way to mine fast is by using a Haste II beacon combined with an Efficiency V Diamond or Netherite Pickaxe or some of the above answers are useful too.

Edit: The above solution is good for pre-1.18 but only works while you're in the Beacon's range. Now, Moss is a faster solution, and once you get a Mob Grinder, you can get a lot of Bone Meal to replace all Stone types (and only Stone types, so the ores are safe) with more Moss, allowing for faster mining and less durability lost of your Pickaxe, with the fastest speeds being achieved with a Diamond or Netherite hoe.


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