There are so many ways to approach mining in Minecraft. I want to cover some of the ways you can get started whether it is careful planning or just jumping right into it!
Learn more about the ores you will be encountering and what you can do with them in my Instructable:
Mining in Minecraft.
Step 1: Setting Up a Mining Station
Before you go exploring down into your mines (whatever type of mine they may be) it is a good idea to set up a mining station. What you put it in is up to you, but here are some suggestions and the reasoning behind them.
It helps to have one of these at the surface of your mine, but you can have it wherever and you can make more as your area of exploration expands.
- Bed - if you die, you will spawn back here instead of somewhere far away
- Chest - hopefully you will mine many things and you won't be able to hold it all, having a chest in a safe place is a good way to save your items especially if you were to die
- Furnace - so you can smelt the ores you find
- Crafting Table - you will undoubtedly need more tools and other various items while mining, it is good to have a crafting table nearby
Step 2: Tools of the Trade
In order to mine you are going to need tools.
Crafting Tools (wood, stone, iron, diamond, and gold):
- 1 Ore + 2 Sticks = Shovel
- 3 Ores + 2 Sticks = Pickaxe
- 2 Ores + 1 Stick = Sword
As you use your tools, they will wear down. The bar indicating the amount of uses left on it will start green and go red when it is about to break. If you take two worn down tools (of the same material) and craft them together, it will combine their uses they have left. They will take up one place in your inventory instead of two now.
What to Carry with you:
- Pickaxes - you will have to start with a stone pickax, most likely, so carry a couple of them. When you can, start carrying an iron pickax to get those ores that need at least that to be mined
- Shovel - when you are mining, you probably won't run into dirt or sand, but there can be some and you are bound to run into gravel, it can be handy to have a shovel to speed up your digging
- Sword - as long as you are playing on survival, you will run into a hostile mob, and you will need to defend yourself
- Signs - or someway to mark where you have been. It can get confusing when you explore mines formed in the game, paths go in all different directions and it can be hard to find your way back to your mining station or the surface
- Food - you will need it eventually, it is good to have some with you and some stored at your station
- Buckets - they can be stacked, but they will take up their own spaces when filled, so keep that in mind for space, but it can be handy to have a bucket of water to put out lava, or have an empty bucket to collect that lava
- Torches - lots of them, you will need them to see what you are doing and to prevent mobs from spawning near you; they can also be used as markers to show where you have been or where you are going
- Dirt - I find it handy to have a stack of dirt with you, I use it to get around lava and pits, and also to mark off where I have been; it is nice since it is easy to break and pick back up and it really stands out against the stone
- Wood - great to have in case you need to build tools, crafting table, torches, etc.
- 6 Wooden Planks + 1 Stick = 3 Signs
- 3 Iron Ingots (in a "v") = 1 Bucket
Step 3: Carts and Rails
The more you play the game, the more efficient you can be. Some things you can make that will make mining more efficient are carts and tracks. These start pretty basic and can be souped up to be pretty awesome.
- 5 Iron Ingots in a "u" = Minecart
- Minecart + Chest = Minecart with Chest
- Minecart + Furnace = Minecart with Furnace
- Minecart + Hopper = Minecart with Hopper
- Minecart + TNT = Minecart with TNT
- 6 Iron Ingots + 1 Stick = 16 Rails
- 6 Gold Ingots + 1 Stick + 1 Redstone = 6 Powered Rails
- 6 Iron Ingots + 1 Stone Pressure Plate + 1 Redstone = 6 Detector Rails
- 6 Iron Ingots + 1 Redstone Torch + 2 Sticks = 6 Activator Rails
Step 4: TNT
TNT can be used to help with mining, but you need to keep in mind that it will destroy some of the resources that are released from broken blocks.
It is more of aid in removing large areas quickly and not for actually mining resources.
You can light the TNT in different ways, but the most common way is with a Flint and Steel. Some resources are immune to explosions, such as Obsidian, and can be used to direct explosions and prevent things from being destroyed.
When TNT is ignited, it will jump slightly and then blink white as it counts down to exploding. The delay is only about 4 seconds, so it is best to run once it's lit.
- 4 Sand Blocks + 5 Pieces of Gunpowder = 1 TNT
- 1 Iron Ingot + 1 Flint = Flint and Steel
Step 5: Cave Mining
The easiest and most common way to min in the game is cave mining. It just consists of exploring the world and finding exposed mines and gorges. Then exploring the cave and mining out any exposed ores and resources. Once everything is found, you can move on.
*After trying out all of the methods mentioned in this Instructable, this method seems to yield the best results. It takes less time (since you don't have to do as much digging) and you are likely to find a bigger variety of ores.
Step 6: Abandoned Mines
Abandoned mines are great. They are a wealth of resources and that includes more than just exposed ores such as Saddles which cannot be crafted, they have to be found. In mines you will find:
- Rails - you can collect and place elsewhere
- Chests - a gold mine of supplies plus now you have a chest
- Carts - one less thing to make and you can use them to get around, but be careful, rails are rarely complete in abandoned mines
- Webs - can be destroyed with a sword to get string
Step 7: Shaft Mining
Shaft mining involves just digging on your own in the pursuit of ores.
The main way to shaft mine is to dig a staircase leaving you enough room to jump your way back to the surface. You can also actually place stairs which are convenient since jumping up blocks takes more energy and with stairs you can just walk back up.
Be careful not to dig straight down as you can dig into existing caves, receive damage and possibly fall into lava.
I mentioned stairs, but that isn't the only way to get up and down in a shaft mine. To get back up, you can also craft and use ladders. They are convenient as you only need a 1 by 1 square shaft to get back up. Another way to get back up is to first pour out a bucket of water at the top of a shaft and use that to swim back up when you are at the bottom.
To get down you can used stairs, and ladders (both as mentioned) or destroy a block and place a bucket of water which will create a 1 by 1 block of water. You can jump and land into any depth of water from any height and not receive any damage at all.
- 6 Stone Blocks / Wood Planks = 4 Stairs
- 7 Sticks = 3 Ladders
Step 8: Branch Mining
Once you have dug your shaft mine, you can start to go out and do branch mining. This is good when you have gotten to a level that should have the resources you want. It will give you more chances of running into that resource.
In order to be the most efficient with this method, you are going to want to dig out 1 block branches leaving 3 blocks in between them. This will result in the most space being covered and the greatest likelihood that resources will not be missed.
Step 9: Quarry Mining
Quarry mining covers the most space while mining.
When creating a quarry you need to decide 1) how big of a quarry you want and 2) how are you going to get back out.
Start by digging out your first layer of the quarry. You may want to consider starting no higher than sea level as some of the ores can't be found until you've gone down a ways. Take into consideration how you are going to get in and out of this quarry, i.e. if you need a ladder, decide where it is going to be located and start placing it; if you are going to create a staircase, get it started.
Then you just keep digging down!