I am writing a space colonization game, and I need some guidance on default values for mine productivity. If you also know an estimate of how much people work on them, that's a bonus. Thanks in advance :)

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    $\begingroup$ Mining takes many shapes & forms. Open pit, underground, or both? Conventional mining or dredging of placer deposits or harvesting brine from salt lakes or collection of nodules from the sea floor or harvesting minerals from submarine volcanic vents? What commodities: iron ore, coal, copper, nickel, tin, lithium, gems, potash, kaolin, ...? The numbers of people employed depends on the degree of mechanization or the availability of cheap labor. Mines in Africa generally use cheap labor so people can be employed. Mines in developed countries tend to use machines & thus employ fewer people. $\endgroup$
    – Fred
    Feb 4, 2019 at 8:28
  • $\begingroup$ this is way too broad,please try to ask a more spesific question and if possible limited to one single material. $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2019 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ Most mines produce raw ore containing a small percentage of desired minerals. Which do you mean? $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2019 at 18:41
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    $\begingroup$ And many mines such as some Chinese coal mines are not on any official listings. $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2019 at 20:26
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    $\begingroup$ Well, I meant it more scientifically, like in "how many mines". It didn't occur to me that the question should differ from "how many people" or "how many cars" in its essence. That's why I said "default values" and "estimate". :) $\endgroup$ Feb 6, 2019 at 19:04

1 Answer 1


You can get estimates from the USGS mineral yearbooks. For example, the entry on Australia has a data table with the amounts of mined resources. Or, the entry on copper lists both US production and international production, including numbers of people employed.

More number are available from government statistics websites, regarding employment. For example Australia and USA.

Digging through those websites will give you an order of magnitude of what to expect.

  • $\begingroup$ Very much so. I then used pop and surface area to emulate the percentages I needed - as if a whole planet was "Australia":) Many thanks. Perfect. $\endgroup$ Feb 15, 2019 at 7:01
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    $\begingroup$ @JorgeAlNajjar this might be too much. Australia mostly exports, so scaling “Australia” to planet-size (as much as I find this appealing as an Australia myself), means that you’re mining and producing too much. Australia is one of the countries with the highest percentage of mining as an economic activity. $\endgroup$
    – Gimelist
    Feb 15, 2019 at 10:23
  • $\begingroup$ Many thanks, yes, which is exactly what I need in my game, once things are high tech (think year 4783ish) and a planet is fully developed, with the maximum mining it can produce, the "planet australia/canada" is a very good estimate for a fully exploited planet :) Interestingly, in my initial (still crude) model, I run out of tellurium (I always thought it would be Platinum...) very soon after I started to mass produce certain spacecraft items, which is an aim in the game (so you must either colonize a source or trade it or kill someone who has it). $\endgroup$ Feb 18, 2019 at 18:58

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