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Minecraft Mining

Mining in Minecraft is the ultimate form of exploration and discovery. Armed with the right techniques, you can get the most out of your pickaxe pounding and be on your way to ore galore! This guide lays out the most common methods for mining.

The Golden Rules of Mining

Safety always comes first when mining, and to keep yourself 100% not dead, follow these two golden rules:

  1. Never dig straight down - You never know if the block below hides a 20 block free-fall plummet into the center of a creeper party.
  2. Never dig straight up - Nothing ruins a good mining session like digging up into a pool of boiling lava.
If you do intend to dig straight up, placing ladders in a 1x1 mine shaft will prevent lava from flowing in, and blocks such as gravel from coming down on top of you.

Cave Mining (aka Spelunking & Cherry-Picking)

Cave mining is the process of seeking out large caverns and harvesting the ore from the surrounding walls. By moving carefully and methodically through a cave system, your time spent mining will be more efficient, and require fewer tools, than if you mine directly through solid blocks.

Cave mining can be dangerous. You are bound to encounter enemies, so travel with weapons, armor, and a large stash of torches to light your way. We recommend placing chests at regular intervals to store your loot in case of an untimely demise.

It is easy to get lost in a cave system. Many players explore and light up a cave first, then mine on their way back out. Placing torches as a "cookie trail" to find your way back, or redstone wire if you have extra redstone dust, is advised.

A technique known as Drifting can be used to expand your cave network. Many dead ends are merely a thin wall that, when broken through, will lead to an adjacent cave.

Shaft Mining (aka Shafting)

This technique involves creating stairs (usually stone) or a shaft directly to the lower levels for quick access to more valuable ores.

Bulding Stairs
In essence, dig down at a 45 degree angle to reach your desired depth. You can quickly move back up stairs by moving forward and holding jump, but it is often quicker (and more fun) to create stone stairs to enable quicker ascension with no jumping.

Building a Shaft
Shafts typically go straight down. Creating a small pool of water (by using a water bucket) at the bottom of the shaft that is at least 3 blocks deep can really speed up your descent. Take a swan dive and land safely in the pool at the bottom. Ladders can also be used to slow descent. Once a player hits a ladder's area of effect from a free fall, they will instantly be slowed to normal speed and take no falling damage. Don't forget to build yourself a way back up (ie. more ladders)!

Horizontal Mining

Horizontal mining covers what do to once you get to the desired level. There are two popular techniques known as strip mining and branch mining.

Strip Mining
Strip mining focuses on exposing all the blocks in a particular area, one level at a time. Using the diagram below to map out the desired area, a miner digs horizontal corridors. By skipping 2 rows of walls at a time, a miner can see the makeup of every block in the area. Once finished, move down a level with your stairs and create the same pattern.

Branch Mining
Branch mining is similar to strip mining, but it leaves wider sections of walls based on the fact that most ores show up in veins. There is a bit more luck involved with this method, but it can end up being more efficient. Once a vein is found, harvest it completely before moving on.

Finding Diamond

Diamond ore is every miner's ultimate score. It is found most commonly on layers 10 through 16, so dig down to bedrock, then back up to that level range and begin strip mining or branch mining. Don't forget to cross your fingers. It is typically found in veins of 1-8 blocks. Good luck and happy mining!