The NPC mining fleets have been a thing now for about a year. I spent a little while trying to pin it down but there does not seem to be a Dev blog on the subject that I can find. Best guess is that they made an appearance in November 2016. I had not really even seen them till now.
NPC Mining fleets roam Hi sec trying to gather all the ore to either:-
1. Force players into Low or Null
2. Build a Death Star.
3. Just because.
Personally I think Number 3.
The NPC fleets do mine a staggering amount of ore, it does not appear to go anywhere.It would be an idea though for all the ore to be put to use to litter space a bit more with NPC citadels...
Anyway I did a bit of research and found that there were basically 2 ways to deal with the NPC miners. Both of them could lead to a messy death.
1. Shoot one of the mining ships. These appear to be tanked the same as a similar player ship.
2. Shoot the haulers when they arrive.
Attacking a miner spawns a response fleet. This can be any size, it can be a single frigate or a full swarm of ships up to battleships, supported by logi and ewar and acting like a proper fleet.
The only way I have found to do this is to select a target and apply rapid DPS, and then warp before the response fleet can scram you.
Doing this to a miner gives you some ore when you come back and loot the wreck, but a hauler seems to give you a faction skin for a mining ship and sometimes some ore.
The last two nights I had Oliver jump out of the worm hole, once to Amarr Space and once to Minmitar. On the first night I shot a Venture, Retriever Bestower and an Impel. I was in a max dps Hecate, Max for me is 556 unheated.
The Venture died first and all the other ventures warped off, then I warped and docked at a station. This aggression towards innocent miners does not give you a weapons timer so docking and jumping are fine. Loot was 2k of Veldspar.
The same happened with the Retriever, but with a bit more Scordite in it.
I tried an Impel next as I saw it warp in to the belt that I was sat at. This proved a slight issue. I managed to burn out my guns, but warp out as I was entering structure. The impel had not even dipped below half armour. Time to warp out was about 40 seconds.
About an hour after, I had replaced the guns and found a Bestower. This died very rapidly and warped off 22 seconds after opening fire, just as the response fleet was starting to land.
Now, the response fleet seem to stay in belt almost exactly 60 seconds from when you leave it. So warp to a safe, then 1 minute later back again
The Bestower dropped a Coveter skin, worth about 10 mill on market. So the hour I spent hunting down a set of ships and then waiting for the transport ship was not the most lucrative I have ever spent.
The next night in Minmitar space I had much more luck. The WH came out in the middle of 1.0 and 0.9 sec status systems. I went around in a big loop until I found a Mammoth on scans, then hunted them down. An hour and a half later I had shot 5.
Loot that dropped
1. Coveter Skin
2. Bowhead Skin
3. Metal Scraps
4. Endurace Skin, and 85,000 m3 of assorted high sec ore, majority being Veldspar. Estimated ore worth 12 million
5. 193,000 m3 of assorted ore from Omber to Veldspar Estimated Ore worth 32 million
Now the skins were great. I have not injected the Bowhead one, as its quite a niche ship, and not likely to be one I ever fly. Not many on market though, one for sale in Hek for 150 million and 1 buy order in Amarr for 0.01 ISK...
There are buy orders up for the Gallente and Amarr ones at 20 and 50 mill respectively. So Realistically I will sit on it till I next get to Jita and list it for 30 mill and see what happens.
Now the Ore in the wrecks was a bonus, but in a Hecate, 6-7 jumps from WH it was a pain.
Both systems had 8-10 people with 4-5 mining ships on Dscan. So I posted in local.
Free ore if you have a hauler to move it.
Then I sat for a few minutes. Then the systems started depopulating, until there were 4-5 people....
As a thought Code does not have to gank anyone, just say they have won a prize... And I am not code, and one of the systems was 0.9. Who is going to gank a T1 hauler with ore in a 0.9 system. I was genuinely going to mark the wreck blue and give it to whomever turned up.
Looking on the market there was a Miasmos (Galente Ore Hauler) for sale in system for 1.5 mill.So I docked and bought it. Wreck no 4 took 2 trips and 5 took 4 trips. That is a lot of ore. It all was taken to nearest Citadel with reprocessing and compressed. Here the ore was worth more on the market than the minerals, so moved it one jump and sold it.
Left the hauler in station and escaped back towards the nice safe wormhole that was waiting.
Found a Mobile Tractor Unit in the entrance system, someone had littered it, so shot it on the way out, to make navigation safer.
in summary 6 hauler kills, 4 skins and about 40 million ISK (Its worth less to sell once compressed) in ore that is a pain to collect.
Going to try kill enough haulers over the next few weeks to get a full set of skins, but I don't think that I will revisit afterwards.