This page is about the profession. For the module, see Mining Lasers.
Mining is the life blood of the EVE economy, without miners the market would crash, and nothing would get done. It is also a fairly risky profession to take up, as you trade off the ability to defend yourself for the ability to mine faster to make money. It may be boring, but can be very rewarding for those bold enough and daring enough to undertake this lifestyle.
Mining is among the easiest careers to get started in, and you only need a mining laser, and a decent cargo hold. It is also the only career where regardless of your level, skills, experience, you can get the high value ore and make money early. Anyone can take their ship, try to fly to 0.0 space and mine all the Arkonor and Bistot they can see. A new fighter can't start taking out battleships in the beginning. To become one, it is as simple as training mining skills, equiping some mining lasers, and mining asteroids.
To succeed as one is a totaly different story. While a n00b could fly into 0.0 space and come back out with a hold full of ore, he is far more likely to get shot as a spy by an alliance border guard, destroyed and/or ransomed by a pirate or just simply be killed by the NPCs that infest the belts. Even if he survives he has to deal with the legions of mining barge operators pumping out ore by the freighter load and generally driving prices under. Still, all of us have to start somewhere....
Mining in EVE rewards teamwork. A solo ship with a basic mining laser can make money zapping asteroids, but to produce real returns requires an organized force with specialized equipment. Such teams can often harvest whole fields in a matter of hours (or minutes depending on how many people are involved) and can generate easily hundreds of millions if not billions of ISK per hour. To accomplish this requires a division of labor.
The fundamental element of any mining operation is the person doing the mining. Equipped with the best mining ship they can obtain, using the best mining lasers or strip miners available, they focus on blasting the everloving **** out of anything that even resembles a rock within their reach. Whatever they mine, they throw out into space, in a jet-can, which is typically named with the time the can was launched and maybe some other gibberish depending on the player and the corp and how they run things. For professionals, the standard ship of choice is the hulk or the covetor, although mining battleships aren't unheard of in low sec and many lowbie characters can still contribute with mining frigs and cruisers. Emphasis is on mining first, although using mining drones is a back and forth argument. While they do increase yields, the gains are modest; most miners carry at least some combat drones.
The distinction between organized mining and the alternative is that, in order to achieve maximum efficiency, miners should mine all the time and someone else should take the ore away. The hauler is that person. The universal ship of choice to haulers, at least in non-combat situations, is the Iteron V, thanks to its ability to swallow whole jet-cans with the appropriate gear. Haulers make or break mining operations, in that it's unfeasible to attempt an operation without one.
In low security space, it's not unheard of to use carriers and motherships to support mining operations as well, although describing it as common would be an exaggeration.
Unlike the Hauler or the Miner, the Foreman is not an integral part of the mining process. In simple form, the foreman is a pilot with the mining foreman leadership skill. While this skill alone confers benefits even if the miner is serving as a hauler or miner, it can be taken to absolutely paranoid levels by using a command ship, getting mindlinks, and treating the job as distinct from everyone else. The bonuses from having a foreman grow as the foreman's gear and skills become more specialized. The returns from having a foreman grow as the number of miners grows. To emphasize the significance of having a foreman, consider this:
With maxed gear and skills, a foreman can confer 20% (slightly more, actually) increase in yield. Per miner. Economics of scale shows that it only takes a handful of miners to have more then paid for the presence of the yield-impaired foreman as a full share member of the team.
The astrogeolist is to a miner what the hydrodynamics engineer is to a plumber. An astrogeolist's sole purpose in life is to mine ore, but not just to mine it. They pull it in by the shipful. Their intricate knowledge of the atomic structure of the rock matrix allows them to pinpoint the sweetest spot of an asteroid to mine. Their expert control of a ships power grid will harness the most power and yield from their lasers. Astrogeologists have been given the name "Strip miners" because they leave nothing behind from an asteroid field but a long dusty strip of debris that not even they could squeeze value from.