Ore Deposits

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Typical example of ore distribution.

Finding ore can be quite challenging. A picture of a typical ore distribution is shown (right). Ores are distributed at random heights, in discs at various angles. Some ores have wider discs than others. Most discs average 5.5 blocks wide, though quartz discs are larger. The overall shape of the ore disc reflects the surface above and will always cover the same horizontal area. This means that regions with flat ground will have flat ore discs, and where the surface is jagged, the discs will be tilted and distorted. Thus, in flat areas, mining horizontally reduces the chances of finding an ore disc. This continues to be true until the surface is jagged enough that its slope is greater than the width of the ore disc.

For more information on the prospecting pick and how to prospect to detect ores, see the mining page.

Ore generation

As of version 1.9, ores only appear in certain rock types. Many ores are only found in some host rocks, and different rocks can have different ore qualities. Examining a rock while holding (Sneak + H), will provide information about which ores can appear in that rock type.
Ores are found in shallow deposits and deep deposits. The tables below provide information about disc generation for each ore type.

  • Y min and Y max: Ores are distributed throughout the range given by these values. The Y values reflect proportions of the sea level, i.e. 0.5 is half the world's sea level. Sea level in the world can be determined by the Y of the surface of a big lake.
  • Average radius: the average width of the deposit along the X and Z coordinates
  • Average thickness: the average height of the deposit along the Y coordinate.
  • Tries per chunk: how many times the game tries to generate a deposit in each map chunk.

For a detailed look at which ores can spawn in which stone types, refer to the list provided here. Special thanks to Cyphon for this overview.

Shallow ores

Shallow deposits are indicated by the presence of loose stones containing ore on the surface of the world. To craft metal tools, copper is the first metal ore players need to find. Surface copper deposits are readily available sources of material available to players during early game stages.

Ore Y min Y max Average radius Thickness Disc Generator Tries per chunk
Lignite 0.48 0.92 10 2 Surface 8
Bituminous coal 0.1 0.9 10 2 Sea level 7
Anthracite 0 0.8 8 1.5 Sea level 6
Copper 0.962 0.968 4.25 1 Surface 0.2
Cassiterite 0.92 0.98 3 1 Surface 0.007
Galena 0 1 4 1 Surface 40
Lapis lazuli 0.05 0.85 2 1 Surface 5
Sulfur 0.3 0.9 8 1 Sea level 15
Borax 0.4 1 8 1 Sea level 6
Cinnabar 0 0.4 8 1 Sea level 1
Fluorite 0.2 0.6 8 2 Sea level 2
Graphite 0.05 0.85 8 2 Sea level 6
Kernite 0.2 0.6 8 2 Sea level 2
Olivine 0 1 32 1.2 Anywhere 0.5
Phosporite 0.2 0.6 8 2 Sea level 2

Deep ores

Deep ores are not indicated by surface deposits in loose stones. Most deep ores can only be found using the prospecting pick. Some ores, saltpeter for example, can't be detected by prospecting with a propick and must be found while exploring caves.

Ore Y min Y max Average radius Thickness Disc Generator Tries per chunk
Saltpeter 0 0.8 10 7 Sea level 7
Deep native copper 0 0.6 6 1 Surface 25
Malachite 0.1 0.9 6 1 Surface 15
Sphalerite 0 0.95 4 1 Surface 10
Cassiterite 0.4 0.75 5 1 Surface 7
Cassiterite, Rare 0 0.6 12 1 Surface 0.1
Bismuthinite 0.05 0.85 4 1 Surface 16
Limonite 0.05 0.85 26 1 Sea level 0.8
Halite 'Salt Dome' 0.45 0.85 10 150 Surface 0.3
Halite 'Lake Bed' N/A N/A 10 3.3 Surface 0.2
Hematite 0.05 0.85 26 1 Sea level 0.5
Magnetite 0.05 0.85 26 1 Sea level 0.3
Diamond 0 0.2 2 1 Sea level 18
Emerald 0 0.26 1 1 Sea level 64
Chromite 0 0.4 3 1 Sea level 6
Ilmenite 0.05 0.85 3 1 Sea level 2
Pentlandite 0 0.4 6 1 Surface 10
Rhodochrosite 0 0.4 3 1 Sea level 5

Ore specifics

Halite

Halite spawns in one of two ways:
Salt Domes can spawn anywhere, but must originate in a sedimentary layer. No Sedimentary = No Halite. The Halite readings that the propick detects in permil mode are for salt domes.
Dry Salt Lakes can only spawn in sedimentary stone top layers in deserts. In a typical temperate spawn location, with 'realistic' banded climate, you'll need to travel 13k+ blocks south to find true deserts. Gravel barrens, which you can find in temperate climates, are not hot enough. The dry salt lake will spawn directly on top of the stone in the region, but below the sand/gravel top layers. So it will take some shallow exploratory digging to find them. These dry salt lakes, while much easier to access than salt domes, will not give halite readings on the propick in permil mode, unlike salt domes. They are easiest to find exposed in cliff faces, due to geologic upheaval.

Gold

Metal only spawns in layers of quartz. Following a quartz layer is a good way to find them. Ore blasting bombs can be utilized to great effect to clear out quartz.

Silver

Metal can be found alongside gold in quartz deposits, but it can also be found in deposits of lead.

Cassiterite

Cassiterite is very rare and is used to make tin bronze, one of the three bronze alloys that can be used to advance to the iron working stages of the game. Some traders sell bronze tools that can be used to work iron, but players must still find enough ore to cast a bronze anvil.

There is a 0.003% chance to come across a massive cassiterite deposit in a chunk. The smallest of these deposits are bigger than the largest of the normal sized deposits.

Technical

See Terrain Generation#Deposits for more information on deposit generation.

Ore deposits are generated with specific generators. These generators control how blocks in the deposit are placed. There are 6 generators.

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Terrain Blocks Rawclay blue.pngClay Grid Gravel Granite.pngGravel Peat.pngPeat Grid Rock granite.pngRock Grid Granite sand.pngSand Grid Barren low fertility soil.pngSoil
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Tools & Weapons Grid Copper axe.pngAxe Bow-simple.pngBow Grid Copper Chisel.pngChisel Grid copper cleaver.pngCleaver Grid Wooden club.pngClub Grid Copper hammer.pngHammer Hoe-copper.pngHoe Knife-copper.pngKnife Pickaxe-copper.pngPickaxe Grid Copper prospecting pick.pngProspecting Pick Grid Copper saw.pngSaw Scythe-copper.pngScythe Grid Copper shears.pngShears Shovel-copper.pngShovel Grid Copper spear.pngSpear Sword-copper.pngSword
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Guides
Grid Lore Book.pngCrafting Recipes Charcoal.pngFuel Grid Raw hide.pngLeather Working Torch.pngLight sources Grid Copper Chunk.pngOre Deposits Grid Ruins.pngRuins Grid Lore Scroll.pngStarter Guide Berrybush blueberry ripe.pngWorld Generation