Mining Ships come in two flavours:
- Those with Bulk storage that can harvest Crystals, Ice, Nividium and Ore with Surface Miner URVs and an on-board Mining Laser.
- Those with Liquid storage that can harvest Hydrogen, Ions and Plasma with Scoop Collector URVs.
The Player Ship (Skunk) can mount a Mining Laser (but cannot pick up the resulting resources) so in practice, any "Trade" ship with an appropriate cargobay and drones may work as a Mining Ship. When Bulk Mining Ships are in "low attention" (essentially OOS), Mining Lasers are not even needed by the CPU-friendly code.
There are 3 main types of Mine ships:
- Medium miners, which harvest Bulk or Liquid wares.
- Large miners, which also harvest Bulk or Liquid wares (may be a Large Trade ship - see above).
- The Scaldis (harvests either type; has Mining Lasers) (or other XL Trade ships - see above).
Ships, and Mining ships in particular, are discussed in more detail here.
The descriptions of the 8 Mining Ships present since the early Rebirth versions nominally indicate that they have various specialisations within their Bulk/Liquid groupings. In practice, this doesn't seem to be borne out in-game or with efforts at code diving. Mining Ships added subsequently (Onil, Manorina, Vulture and Xenon S) do not have implied specialisation in their descriptions. Taking into consideration that you or your stations may need multiple harvested wares and the uncertainty over whether an in-game benefit exists, implied specialisation may not be a significant reason for ship selection.
Nevertheless, those implied specialisations are as follows (Medium followed by Large ships):
- Crystals, Nividium and Ore: Dwalin and Fedhelm.
- Ice: Hymir and Sequana.
- Ions and Plasma: Betaver amd Midir.
- Hydrogen: Nudung and Boann.
Useful info from elsewhere on the web:
- Guide to visually ID 'roid types by Snafu_X3 (XRebirth forum link and direct MS Word 2003 doc link). This is a pure text + screenshots doc: no macros or anything special other than some text effects, so if you don't trust me turn everything off before viewing
- Harvestable resource locations by Sparky Sparkycorp (exploration spoiler link).