The Basics of Mining
Mining should always be done at a high-value ring ("Pristine Metallic"), either at extraction sites or random places. Upon arriving, deploy Collector Limpets to gather fragments and deploy Prospector Limpets to survey asteroids. Use a Mining Laser to get an asteroid to release fragments of ore, which the limpets will collect for you. The Refinery on board will take fragments from the asteroids and begin converting them into trade goods to fill up your cargo hold. Once you fill up your hold and/or run out of limpets, carry your goods to a nearby station to sell, complete quests, and refill on limpets.
Every mining vessel needs 5 things outfitted:
Prospector Limpets - make sure its "A" quality, you will get higher yields
Collector Limpets - same quality as above, so they work better together
Lots of Cargo Space
You need to load up with limpets in the Advanced Maintenance - Restock. When you start out, fill your hold with 70%-80% limpets and discard as needed, but as you get more practice at mining you may use 50% of your hold or less in limpets.
After fitting basic equipment, you'll begin to fine-tune your mining gear as you mine and improve your efficiency. Here are some guidelines to maximizing your profit:
Have as powerful of mining lasers as your ship will allow without sacrificing combat ability too much (if you plan to run from everything, then combat doesn't matter).
Always have the best refinery you can afford. 4B at most, smaller refineries are OK. (But if you use a smaller refinery, you may have to vent fragments from time to time to free up refinery space).
Try to have a good enough power distributor to keep your mining lasers going with 100% up-time, or close to it, until you deplete an asteroid.
Try to have enough collector limpets to collect all fragments shortly after depleting an asteroid (The more out, the faster you can finish)
For weapon load-outs, I would use two weapon sets: Combat Weapons + Collector Limpets, and then Mining Lasers + Prospector Limpets. Also, you will from time to time probably bump into asteroids. Good shields are very nice to have.
T6/C - Ship Build
Asp - Ship Build
T7 - Ship Build
T9/C - Ship Build
T9/H - Ship Build
Clipper - Ship Build
Python/C - Ship Build
Python/H - Ship Build
For site selection, you are looking for exactly two things:
Pristine Metallic rings
A nearby station with high tech, refinery, industrial, or extraction economies
Bertrandite, Gallite, Indite, and Silver should be avoided.
Tips & Tricks
Avoid fast-turning large asteroids. These have an habit of taking a huge chunk out of your collector limpets. If you find a high-value spinning asteroid, try to find the "axis" of the asteroid (the place of little rotation) and mine there. Fragments fly off in a perpendicular direction from the asteroid surface where your mining lasers are hitting, so be careful where you are hitting a moving asteroid and use this fact to more carefully plan where your limpets will collect to avoid losing them.
Mine with your nose as close as you safely can be to the asteroid. This speeds up the collection process.
You are ready to leave once you see "No Valid Collection Targets", but be careful not to cut off your last limpet or two by getting the asteroid between you and them. On the HUD, ores are square, limpets are triangles.
Turn on your ship lights.
To destroy all limpets, turn off power to your limpet modules.
If you keep the prospector targeted you can keep track of the asteroid stats.
Never pass up on Painite.
Set your destination lock on the planet. Always mine toward the planet. This prevents you from doubling back on depleted asteroids. You could mine for hours and never leave the field just by heading in one direction.