Access your Geological Operations screen by clicking the 'Geological' link that appears on your HQ page if you are operating within this sphere of activity. This screen displays all your mining facilities, and allows you to manage these and access your geological survey data.
Operating in the Geological sphere involves carrying out geological surveys and then constructing mines to extract naturally-occuring materials from planets. The mined commodities are then sold on the local market for (hopefully) a healthy profit. Three commodities may be mined: Precious Metals, Minerals and Radioactives. Each of these commodities has a market price which will differ from planet to planet (see Mercantile) and this trade price, together with the abundance of minerals on the planet concerned, will dictate the profitability of a given mine.
In order to build mines, you must first have carried out a geological survey on the planet in question and discovered one or more geological deposits. You may then build mines to tap each particular deposit. The standard cost of a survey is $1000, but this increases to $1500 if you are attempting to discover one particular type of commodity - as specified when you commission the survey. The chance of your survey discovering a deposit depends greatly on the mineral wealth of the planet - those planets with meagre mineral resources are obviously less likely to turn up a deposit than those with boundless resources. You may even uncover multiple deposits from the same survey, if you are very lucky. Note that Precious Metals are rarer than Radioactives, and Minerals are the most common commodity type that will be uncovered by a survey. You may specify that the survey search for one particular commodity - but as noted above this is more expensive and also has a reduced chance of success overall.
To launch a new survey on a planet within your operational range (see Technology) or view your existing discovered deposits, follow the 'Geological Surveys' link from your Geological Operations screen.
The size of a geological deposit is very important. No geological deposit is infinite and each day that you mine a deposit, its size is reduced. The 'size' given for any one geological deposit is equivalent to the number of game days that a single mining outpost (see below) can extract material from the deposit, and ranges from as low as 500 up to as much as 100,000. The size of any deposit you discover through your surveys will be heavily influenced by the mineral wealth of the planet in question.
Note that once a geological deposit is depleted (or before, if desired) you can 'clean up' the deposit by selecting the 'Abandon' option against the deposit on the Geological Surveys screen. This option is only available if there are no mines currently tapping the deposit - so you'll need to dismantle the defunct mines first before doing this.
You may build mining facilities on any planet where you have successfully surveyed for geological deposits. Go to the Geological Surveys screen and click the 'Build Mines' link alongside the deposit you wish to mine There are three sizes of mine available:
The actual cost to build any facility is influenced by the distance of the site from your homeworld and the competence of your sphere leader. Maintenance costs are likewise affected by your leader's competence. Also, build and maintenance costs are reduced on poorer planets, and increased on richer worlds, due to differences in labour and materials costs. The size of mine you build will depend on the resources available to you, and your opinion on the profitability of mining that particular commodity on the given planet. If the potential profit is high, then building the largest mine makes sense. If you are not sure, then build an outpost - you can always upgrade it later.
You may build any number of mines to tap each of your geological deposits. However, the more you build, the quicker you will deplete the deposit and have to shut down the mines. Also, operating large numbers of mines will depress the price of the commodity on the planet, as the supply increases, and thus make all of them less profitable. Selecting the ideal number of mines to build against a given deposit is a balancing act - some players may prefer quicker short-term profits, whilst others will want to leave a mine operating for many years before having to manage the dismantlement of defunct mines. Each Mining Outpost will deplete a geological deposit size by one unit per day. A mine will deplete the deposit by two units a day, and a mining complex by three units a day.
From your Geological Operations screen you can also upgrade an existing facility to the next largest type, by clicking the 'upgrade' icon which appears to the left of each facility's type. You can also dismantle a facility using the red cross icon, should you have no further use for this facility. In this case, you will recoup around one third of the original cost of building the facility, once dismantling is complete. Additionally, you can always rename any facility simply by clicking on the existing facility name, which will make it amendable. Submit your new name by clicking the green tick that will appear alongside the input box.
Note that if you click on the planet name of any facility, you will be taken to the planet information panel for that planet, from where you can view the current trade prices.
Each day, your mines will generate income based on the trade price of the commodity mined - which can be viewed from the Planet Trade View screen. A Mining Complex will generate income roughly equivalent to the actual trade price - with the smaller facilities generating relatively smaller amounts in proportion to their size. As with all spheres, the skills and experience of your Sphere Leader will play a part in determining exactly how much income you actually receive from each mine.
You should also be aware that mines serve to increase the supply of the mined commodity on a planet, so the trade price will fall with each mining complex you build, assuming no other factors are involved (see the Mercantile section for more details). As with all operations you should keep an eye on your mines and if they are generating insufficient income, shut them down or take other action to counter this. You can view your accumulated geological operations income on the Treasury Screen. You can also see the income generated by each mine on your Geological Operations screen.
You must also of course take into account the cost of maintaining your mining facilities (see above) when examining the profitability of your existing mines. All income figures are gross figures, with facility maintenance as a separate cost on the treasury screen.
As seen in the Rulebook
Planetary mineral wealth goes: meagre, low, adequate, plentiful, boundless.
TBA: estimates on number of surveys to send and get results
Geology tends to synergize with the Mercantile sphere very well, due to the latter's ability to export the mined minerals on one planet to a planet with higher prices. Geological and Exploration are also a very powerful combination, as Geo is better than most spheres at earning money on poorly developed planets.
For the geography sphere, accounting for profits is less straightforward than it might seem at first glance. While daily revenue - expenses might be good for most instances, a player choosing between difference spheres to spend on, or in very competitive/tight financial conditions, might consider factoring in two other things: the depletion of deposits and depreciation of mines.
1. Depletion of deposits: Deposits cost money to acquire, and should be valued at cost. Let's say a deposit of 10,000 precious metals was acquired by spending $1000 on surveys, making the cost 0.1 per unit; each complex would therefore incur an additional cost of $0.3 per day. This is most often easily ignored or avoided.
2. Depreciation of mines: Mines are the only buildings in IN that can be said to “depreciate” - they are useless after the resources they're built on are gone. This becomes most relevant when building many mines on few deposits; you will only gain back ~30% of the facility's value, thus losing around 70% of it. Since it's usually best to be conservative, we'll say $2000 of value is consumed in use. Calculating use is simple - how many days will the deposit last with current mines? For our deposit above, costs are pretty low if there is one complex:
10,000/3 = 3333; 2000/3333 = 0.6
However, if we make five complexes, it goes up to 1.8 per complex.
If you don't feel like doing either of these calculations, simply deduct $1 in profit per day from each mine when making decisions.