Mining at 80 in Cataclysm
Alright, I know, most sane people who wanted to earn some gold at the start of the expansion levelled characters with gathering professions first.
I levelled my main character first, though (enchanting / leatherworking). I’ll probably level my hunter next, simply because she has skinning and I’d like to cap leatherworking on my main sometime this century.
Alieth, though, wanted to cap engineering even faster than that – because he could get a shiny helm from it – and the prices on Obsidium and Elementium were obscene. And I have a level 80 character with mining (who is now 81, due to all the gathering experience… yes, even at 4k experience per node, yes I mined a lot).
Deepholm is an amazing zone for mining, especially in terms of Elementium, but you can’t get there until you’re level 82. If you have time, you’re probably better off levelling your miner to 82, but if you’re in a hurry to get some ore or for some reason don’t want to level that particular character just yet, you have options.
I tried Hyjal first, but doing an almost-full loop and finding only one node led me to reconsidering. I went back to Orgrimmar, picked up the Vashj’ir quest and off I went. I did the first handful of starter quests, up until the point where I got my seahorse (if you’re a druid you can skip the seahorse; a sea turtle would probably also allow you to skip the seahorse, but I don’t have it myself so I can’t compare speeds).
I tried several mining paths, but this circuit in the Shimmering Expanse yielded the best results. You’ll get occasional mob aggro, but since it’s a starter zone, it’s nothing you can’t deal with. Just go in loops and pick up everything you see.
Elementium is a bit more complicated. I debated between Twilight Highlands and Uldum, and ended up picking Twilight Highlands simply because it had, at the time, more mining nodes marked on Wowhead, so I could plan out my path a bit better. (I might investigate Uldum at some point in the future, although I’ll probably be 83 or 84 on my miner by then.)
The mining paths here are a bit more complex.
The mountain path has minimal mob aggro and pretty quick node respawn. You’re likely to get jumped by a mob occasionally, especially at the south end of the path; I could kill the mobs, but my miner is an ICC-geared prot paladin, so it might be different for you. I found several nodes here every circuit. Avoid going into the Elementium Depths if you can’t kill mobs: you’ll get aggro from one as soon as you enter. If you can kill mobs decently fast, though, there are several nodes close to the entrance that you can get at with a little bit of work.
The river path has zero mob aggro, but nodes there don’t seem to respawn nearly as fast. My experience varied widely: sometimes I found 7-8 nodes or more on a single river circuit, sometimes I found none. There are a few node spawns in the lake at the start of the path, and those also have zero mob aggro, unless you’re careless. You can mount up on your flying mount right from the water surface now, no need to swim to shore, so it doesn’t waste too much time.
The cave is my favourite spot, hands down. It’s called the Obsidian Lair, and it’s for a quest; the only players I ever saw in there were doing the quest (in comparison, I ran into several other miners on both the mountain path and the river path). It has zero mob aggro (I only once got aggroed by something – a whelpling – and it was very, very easy to kill, compared to the mobs elsewhere), you can fly inside it, and there are plenty of node spawns.
You can’t just stay in the cave and mine, as you’ll run out of nodes, but the nodes in there seem to share a respawn with the nodes on the mountain path, meaning if you mine the mountain path – or if you know somebody else is – it’s very well worth it to duck into the cave every time you’re close to the entrance. I’ve had it happen several times that I would clear all the nodes in the cave, and then notice them respawning as I was heading back to the mountain path, since somebody else was mining outside.
The circle denotes one of the two entrances: there’s another, halfway up the mountain near the end of the marked mountain path, but it might be a bit hard to find and I forgot to take a screenshot – just go through the normal entrance and fly through the entire cave and you’ll see where it’s located.
Personally, I ended up settling down on a circuit that hit all three paths. Start at the south end of the mountain path, take a right turn where the mountain path meets the river path and do a full river path loop, then continue on the north portion of the mountain path, double back and follow the south portion of the mountain path once more, then duck into the cave. Lather, rinse, repeat.