Refineries – The Possibilities


As a member of a medium-sized alliance surrounded on all sides by much larger entities, CCP’s recent announcement of Refineries, and the mechanics associated with them, have filled us with hope for the next year of EVE. Over the last few years, CCP have seemed to be trying to strip the ability of large space and moon-holding blocs to project power into neighbouring regions. First CCP introduced Aegis Sovereignty, which hindered the ability of larger entities to hold space by force projection alone. The announcement of Refineries appears to be CCP’s attempt to remove the ability to control moon empires.

In EVE Online, alliances and corporations have the ability to place Control Towers, or POS’s near planetary moons. The ability to passively mine materials from these moons, and the wealth that these moons provide, has led to many famous conflicts in the history of New Eden. EVE is about to enter a new a period in its history. Refineries aim to remove the passiveness from moon mining, and make it so that alliances have to be active in the space where they control moons. This change is going to completely change the political face of New Eden, particularly in Low-Sec space, where large entities rely on the income of moons to sustain their ship replacement programmes.

For smaller alliances, however, these changes present an opportunity to seize income in their local areas from the large power blocs, and take wealth for themselves. Of course, there will always be entities who adapt to the changes, and continue to make large amounts of ISK, but the passive income of the past is about to change.

What are Refineries?

According to the relevant CCP developer blog, Refineries will work in the following ways:

  1. A refinery that is deployed close enough to a moon can fit a special moon drilling service module. Fitting of this module will only be an option if no other drills are fit to other Refineries around the same moon, so only one structure can mine each moon at a time. This service module gives the owners the ability to designate how large of a fracking operation they wish to begin, with larger chunks taking longer time to prepare.
  2. The moon drilling module begins blasting a chunk of the moon away from its surface and dragging it towards the structure. This process takes between one and several weeks depending on the choices made by the structure owner. Observers can watch the chunk move through space as a way of estimating when it will reach the Refinery.
  3. Once the chunk of moon rock has completed its journey into space, the Refinery can use its drill module to detonate the chunk into a minable asteroid field. The exact time of the detonation is controlled by the owners of the Refinery within limits. If the chunk is left unattended long enough it will disintegrate into the asteroid field on its own.
  4. The new asteroid field that appears with the explosion of the chunk will contain new types of valuable ores that will yield moon minerals when reprocessed. The composition of the field will depend on the composition of moon materials available in the moon. The field will generally remain far enough away from the Refinery structure that you won’t be able to effectively mine it from docking range but close enough for a pilot controlling the Refinery to be able to cover the friendly miners and/or attack uninvited guests.
  5. Once the chunk has exploded, the drilling module can begin fracturing a new part of the moon to start the process again.

The implications of this change are huge, and will no doubt force changes in many regions of New Eden. There are many possibilities of where this change will lead us, and I have offered my predictions below.

What does this mean for sovholders?

Many major Low-Sec alliances make the majority of their income from passively mining moons. With the loss of this source of passive income, there will only be two possibilities for these groups to ensure their member’s ability to make ISK, that does not include alt accounts:

  • These alliances will have to procure either Moon Rental alliances, which will work by renting out the ability to mine the asteroid belt to corporations, and taking a set percentage of their income. While this methodology will work in theory, anyone has the ability to mine from these belts, and unless you can project sufficient enough power to defend these groups while they mine the minerals, the chances of somebody willing to mine, and be taxed for mining in low-sec without protection, are very low
  • The only other options for low-sec entities is to extort nearby smaller entities. By allowing smaller entities to establish Refineries on wealthy moons, it allows the larger entities to demand a percentage of the income from these moons. This is the probable outcome for most low-sec entities, and makes the most sense from a military standpoint.

In Null-Sec space, the same problem is common: many large entities have the ability to project their power, and influence, allowing them to control wealth moons in the neighbouring regions. In Null-Sec however, there are multiple different reasons to expect the outcome to be different.

  • Refineries, and the asteroid belts that result from their operations, will be much harder to control. In order to gather the wealth from these moons, the owner of the Refinery will both need the ability to provide a way for their miners to access the space safely, and provide a way for those miners to safely extract the minerals. This completely changes in Null-Sec, as the owner of the space has the ability to place system-wide Cynosaural Inhibitors, nullifying the invaders ability to support the mining fleet through a Cyno.
  • Mining increases the ADM (Active Defence Modifier) of the system the mining takes place in, while this isn’t necessarily a deterrent to foreign powers holding rich moons within your systems, it allows you to see if there is activity in those systems by Mining Fleets simply by watching your ADM’s.
  • With the ability to project your power into someone else’s system to defend your miners, there is only one possibility for Null-Sec empires to maintain their huge wealth when the Refineries are implemented, and that is to have mining CTA fleets. This is a concept which I find amusing, and which I can never see becoming a thing. While the owner of the Refinery will be able to know the time of the asteroid belt spawning, unless the entity is willing to have multiple belts spawn at once, and defend the mining fleets, projection into someone else’s territory to actively mine moons, will be much harder than passive mining.

While these changes look like they are going to change the face of moon empires, it is a strong possibility that those who already hold territory will simply change from harvesting passive income to acting as active landlords. This is definitely something I can see entities like Pandemic Legion incorporating in order to retain some form of income from Moons.

The future is definitely looking up for smaller entities. However, the implementation of Refineries, and Alliances response to their implementation is difficult to fully predict at this point. CCP is definitely making changes for the better in New Eden, and is not afraid to upset the larger entities in order to make income more accessible.

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  • Pew Pew

    I hope the moons in Lowsec are given some kind of buff so they are very valuable. I think that would be a really interesting conflict driver. Especially if lone wolf ninja miners becomes a thing.

    If you die once every 3 trips but make back the value of your ship per trip then it’s worth it. For the pirates this makes a really good swarm of targets.

    March 27, 2017 at 10:34 AM
  • Alot

    Will generated asteroid fields last until completely mined, what rate of mining is expected to be constantly supported with intermittent moon chunk deliveries and most importantly, will detonating the moon chunk deal massive damage to ships close to the detonated mass?

    March 27, 2017 at 11:25 AM
  • Rhivre

    The interesting thing will be what happens on patch day, with the ability to block moons, and drop in production for a day

    March 27, 2017 at 12:01 PM
  • Alaric Faelen

    This is a step in the right direction.

    I have long said that the purpose of owning sov should be to attract more players to it, not make it exclusively available to members. Much like how real world cities compete to bring in more jobs, more industry, more tourism.

    The job of the Sov holder should be to acquire and defend some space then make it attractive for anyone to come use- letting the sov owner tax any income (I know, that would be wildly complicated, but sic some nerds on it).

    Basically make it so people in high sec can go to null sec to farm content without having to join the owners group or some rental pet alliance. That is a huge put off for many players- having to join a side and deal with all the associated drama. If they could continue to be small groups or solo players and simply commute to better content, more people would get out of high sec, even if just for day trips.
    Yes, there would be added risk, but it’s in the interests of sov owners to police their space diligently. Something they already do for the most part.

    March 27, 2017 at 8:55 PM
  • Punky260

    Well, I thought I would read an article about the possibilities of the new system. Instead I read “everyone will adapt, either through a form of renting or mining fleets”.

    Erm, thanks for this article written for people who are new to moon mining, when comes the article that is really discussing the topic?

    March 27, 2017 at 10:26 PM
    • Matterall Punky260

      There is precious little to grab onto at the moment. This is just the first stage and the system will probably see some tinkering that will make any brainstorming now obsolete when the feature is released.

      Mineral composition? All we know is there will be traces of minerals along with the raw moon materials. Refinery role in defending mining fleet while it works – use the large. Its just like the medium but with more room for defenses. Will Mining Director get to boost his fleet from the platform? Not yet. Will taxation system be attached to Ledger, so people can create public mining fields? It’s a consideration.

      Overall, these big changes take a while to playout. Initially there is panic, then it settles into enthusiasm for those that are figuring out how to evolve. That’s basically what we are seeing now. Most major industrialists are quiet right now becasue there is not much to go on as far as “will my career end or get better.”

      The one big lesson is the future of financing corporations and alliances is changing. That’s where the concepulizing is interesting – Is the nomadic PVP only lifestyle over? Are big fights over? I guess we can talk about that.

      March 28, 2017 at 3:43 AM
    • Rhivre Punky260

      There isn’t really a lot to write at the moment, beyond the obvious land-grab and delay in materials

      March 28, 2017 at 5:39 AM
  • VallainBale

    Any thoughts on the idea of mobile blops mining using the prospector? Bridging a fleet of prospectors around to eat these moon belts up? I mean I know,… I know… but maybe? Pls?

    March 28, 2017 at 6:48 AM
  • VallainBale

    Any thoughts on the idea of mobile blops mining using the prospector? Bridging a fleet of prospectors around to eat these moon belts up? I mean I know,… I know… but maybe? Pls?

    March 28, 2017 at 6:55 AM
  • Doughlas MacAlister

    My fear is that this will completly remove any reason to wage a large scale war. As it stands right now, moons are only thing worth fighting over. Imperium has no reason to attack anything outside of Delve, except money moons. The same is true about any other large alliance. Fozzie sov made attacking sov hard . Citadels made defending it easy . Drilling will make attacking it pointless. I dont want to join EVE is dead crowd, but honestly tell me 1 militarily or economicaly sound reason to wage large nullsec war.

    March 28, 2017 at 12:08 PM
    • Unless moons lose their value, then largescale war will still happen, it will just be punctuated by largescale fights once in a while when someone manages to drop on a fleet while mining.

      March 28, 2017 at 1:19 PM
      • Doughlas MacAlister Rhivre

        Moons do lose their value because while I can keep tower up 30 jumps from my home region I cannot take there a mining fleet to extract resources

        March 28, 2017 at 4:46 PM
  • Eve Veteran

    Eve online is becoming spreadsheets online with every new patch. This one will be no exception. Wars have been fought for moons R64s. Now we introducing instead more citadels. Citatels, especially small ones, are aids as they are with 3 timers each. Imaging having to go through 3 timers just to kill a mining rig. No one will care doing so. No one will also care going into null sec to mine r8 or r16 moons. No wonder eve is rapidly losing players. Smaller corps/alliances will get screwed even more. How? By not being able to have an army or miners for the few new mining rigs they own. You cannot be small and have miners AND PVP players to protect the miners. This means existing power blocks will become even bigger enslaving more and more miners to do their work for them. Welcome to new Spread Sheet Online aka as Renters Online.

    CCP WAKE UP! Game is overly complicated as is taking away more and more hard core PVPers out of the game. You need to create content not wasted endless hours on spreadsheets!!!

    March 30, 2017 at 12:23 AM