Surface mining

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Main / Guides / Surface mining

Surface mining is the action of shaping external rock of cliff faces.


Surface mining can be useful to prepare a rock tile for tunneling or making slopes more favourable for a mine entrance. It may also be used to lower rock tiles for ease of passage or simply for aesthetic reasons.


The slope of surface rock (or mining tunnel rock) can be changed with a pickaxe or a sculpting wand. The sculpting wand is the fastest way to shape rock, using a pickaxe can take a very long time since successfully removing rock is randomized, with most actions producing no result.

1) Clear a square of four tiles all the way down to rock in order to lower the rock at the point where those four tiles intersect. To clear all the dirt off a single rock tile, you must dig down to rock on all four corners. You will know that you have hit rock by watching event messages for messages that indicate you are hitting rock. You will also cease collecting dirt in inventory when you start hitting rock. Example:

If you want to lower rock at point E, you will have to dig down to rock at all points A through I. Points A/B/E/D will clear the top left square, B/C/F/E will clear the top right, etc, etc.

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2) Activate your mining pick and stand at the intersection of the four tiles (point E), click the ground, and select the mining action. Be sure that you do not select tunneling. Tunneling will eventually create a mine entrance, which we do not want (at least not yet).

3) Randomly, with a variable chance based on skill, you may drop the rock level at the point where you are mining by 1 dirt and produce a stone shard. This is not cumulative. Sometimes you will drop the rock level very quickly for a short spurt, other times you might mine for along time not drop the level. In other words, many failures in a row does not make future success more likely. For each action, the chance to lower the rock is 20% at no skill and scales up with skill, to a maximum of 50% at 100 skill.

4) Attempting to lower surface rock below the ceiling of a mine below results in the message "The rock sounds hollow, you will need to tunnel to continue". At this point, you cannot lower the surface rock any further.

Note that the example above is only for one point. To lower the face of a tile to make a nice mine entry tunnel, here's a more complex example:

After prospecting tile B/C/G/F to create a tunnel there to start a mine, the slope is just not right.

  • Drop corners F and G to make a nice slope for the mine entrance.
  • To drop the rock level at F dig A/B/C/E/F/G/I/J/K down to rock.
  • To drop the rock level at G dig B/C/D/F/G/H/J/K/L down to rock.

Remember: surface rock lowering is done at intersections of rock tiles, tunnel creation is done within a single rock tile. If you try to tunnel while standing at a intersection of 4 tiles, you might get a tunnel at an unexpected location, so be sure to be standing on one tile, and be sure to be clicking that one tile when creating a tunnel.

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  • Surface mining will produce stone shards on each action that lowered the corner.
  • The maximum depth a rock tile may be mined to beneath water is -24 dirts below water level.
  • Slopes created with surface mining are limited to 3x mining skill on PvE servers. Be careful as its possible to surface mine a slope's steepness one mine action beyond what your skill will allow. This small mistake prevents any mining actions on top of the slope.
  • The chance for a surface mining action to lower the rock is related to skill, with a minimum chance of 20%, and a maximum of 50% at 100 skill.

PVP Servers

  • Maximum slope for surface mining is limited to your 1x mining skill on Defiance and Elevation servers and capped at 60 slope.