After this update you will have to do endure some mining if you want to craft a destroyer, and it quickly becomes evident of what a boring task it is. I came to this game for the combat, as I can imagine many other players did too. So this got me thinking about how another game made mining fun, the game is Firefall (I haven’t played it since beta so it may have change now).
In that game you scan for resources and when you find what you want you call in a mining craft, which you have to defend from hordes of creatures until the time is up. If the mining craft gets destroyed you get nothing, if you send it back early to save it you get less resources, if you succesfully defend for the duration you get lots. Now, you can try solo these or work as a group, going solo you get the most, as a group the rewards are evenly split, but it is much easier to defend. There are several sizes of mining craft, the bigger it is the more resources you collect, but it becomes much harder to defend as it attracts more mobs and bigger ones.
So how could this fit into SC. Quite simply, though coding it in will probably be considerably more challenging Get rid of all the deposits that we have at the moment and instead we have to scan the actual asteroids. The resources they yield will change over time, and are depleted for a short period once they have been mined. Every player can buy a scanner as soon as they are able to fly open space, and with these they can scan asteroids to see what can be mined there at that time. The more rare materials should be found in r7+ sectors, r10 sectors would yield more rare materials as these will be much tougher to defend. Once you have found what you want, you call in a mining craft to begin the process. I suggest having just 2 sizes of mining crafts, small ones for solo or 2 man squads, and larger for 2-4 man squads, heck we could go a third size for a full 8 man wing, could be fun. Small ones should be purchasable for credits, larger ones will need to be crafted. They should be reusable, but if they get destroyed then you will need to buy/craft another.
So once the mining craft is called in you have 5 minutes to defend it. Waves of cybers/pirates/cartel or biomorphs can attack depending on what sector you are in. They will be trying to destroy the mining craft. You can send the mining craft back at any time, you will just get less resources, or none if you send it back too early. Other players can not damage the mining craft, even in dangerous sectors (though this could be allowed maybe). Only players in the same squad as the person who called the mining craft will get a share of the resources. Players can not be kicked from the squad once the mining process has started.
The idea would then be that players can solo less dangerous sectors to get resources, but if they want to get bigger yields of the more rare stuff then they will need to squad up. R10 sectors should have high yields but be very tough to defend, and if your brave enough to go to an alien sector then you should get a very handsome rewards if you manage to defend for the full 5 mins.
Due to the nature of having to split yields, they numbers for them may well need to be tweaked. Instead of say 1 neodium ore, it is measured in weight, to craft a neodium plate you need 2 tons of neodium ore. So lets say you find a good neodium node in a R10 sector, if you use the largest mining craft it could yield a potential of something like 16 tons of neodium ore. Yep, that seems high, but to get the full yield you will have to be in a squad of 4 to at least have a chance of completing 5 minutes successfully, so you would get 4 tons each, enough for 2 neodium plates. If you have to send the mining craft back early then you would get less.
Anyway, I probably need to fine tune this idea a bit, but I hope you like it. I just feel that this could make mining to be a some what enjoyable experience. Maybe there would be scope to have some form of PvP element to it, though it would be tricky to implement.
EDIT: Just thought of a way to incorporate some for of PvP element to it. Though this would have to be limited to Corps only. Using the yet unused Laboratory you can research a mining craft. Once researched any player can buy the bp and craft it. Then as a full wing you fly to a sector and mine. Any player can attack and destroy the mining craft, it is the wings job to defend it. The mining craft can hold ALOT of resources, though if it is destroyed then all that loot is dropped into space that anybody can grab. The mining ship can not using the cargo drone so has to fly back to a station, once it docks, resources are shared evenly between the wing. The mining ship can only be attack by players in dangerous sectors, but can be destroyed by AI in safe sectors, this is to prevent players from just camping the station’s docking area.