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Mines are constructed on ore veins to extract metal ores such as Iron Ore, Copper Ore and Tin Ore from ore veins, as well as various Gems and Coal. Ore veins are discovered using the Dowsing skill with a Dowsing Rod.
Mines must be 13 coords apart
Mines not built on an ore vein produce sand, though they still can produce gems and coal.
You must have learned the Mining technology to operate a mine. When worked, a mine produces a number of stones on the ground in front of it with varied shapes, colours, bases and crystals. Each ore type has different rules for which properties vary and which are fixed.
The principle of mining is to find groups of these stones as "workloads" according to certain rules. Each workload of at least three stones yields ore, and stones from a single pull on the mine can be re-used in multiple workloads. Miners can use a given workload of exactly the same set of stones once each.
For each varying attribute (e.g. body colour and crystal shape for iron), the stones in the workload must be all the same, or all different. So as an example, three stones with red patterns on the body (all same colour) and three different shapes of crystals on top (all different) would qualify. Two red stones and one blue would not qualify regardless of crystal shapes.
Larger workloads produce larger amounts of ore. You will also receive an increasing bonus on top of the base workload amount for each successful workload from the same mine pull. This bonus will reset if you attempt to finalize an invalid workload.
More information on mining, including the differences between each ore type, can be found at the Mining Guide
Using the same stone in different workloads for the 7th time will collapse it, producing a gem and coal in addition to the usual ore. The type of gem is fixed by the location of the mine, and research is ongoing to find the boundaries of regions of a given gem type.
I got a large gem by collapsing two stones in the same set, on different workloads. -Risa As Risa above, this is how I've gotten the one large stone so far. From collapsing a second stone in the same set. - Nurkii
There is a random element to the game also. sometimes it will give you the large for collapsing two in one set but not always it will not give you large just collapsing one at a time. - Cj-the-dj18