Among the stories of people building amazing water slides and accidentally burning their houses down, it's easy to forget that Minecraft is, at its heart, a game about mining. Minecraft community member, Featherblade, with some help from friends and fellow forumites, has put together an extensive and incredibly well researched guide on how to become the most efficient miner possible.
Featherblade's first tip is 'click mining'. Instead of holding the mouse button down, quickly click again as the block is destroyed and you interrupt the animation, reducing the time it takes to mine each block. As Featherblade says: "Do it with dirt, and you're a whooping 60% faster! (with iron shovel). This gives incredible destruction speed to any Miner, no matter the style of mine, or even if it's true mining. This skill still applies to logging, building and demolition in general."
The team's second area of research looks into the kinds of ore that appear at different depths. To find out this information, community members have had to analyze exactly how Minecraft worlds are created, and have observed a few general rules. For example, they've found that the sea level is 63 blocks upwards from the impenetrable 'admin layer', and that the lava level is 10 blocks up. Veins of the most precious substances, diamond and redstone can only be found at level 16 or below. The difficult part is reaching them without accidentally tapping into a deadly magma flow.
To help with this there's an in depth analysis of how best to construct a mine, examining and evaluating the efficiency of different layours. The post provides an extremely thorough statistical breakdown of many different mining methods. One of the best methods, branch mining, is demonstrated in this video.
Check out the full length forum post for acres more information. If you have any tips of your own, or pictures of your own mining operations in action, let us know in the comments thread. Happy mining!