Digging Your Way to Riches - A Metals Specialization Guide for SimCity 2013
If you've got deposits of either Coal or Ore sitting beneath your city you've got a tremendous resource for making a lot of money right from the start. And if you’re going all out you’re going to need all that money because it’s a very dirty job. You'll need to pay for the right infrastructure set up so that you can do the job properly and keep your Sims from getting too sick to do their jobs. Fortunately Parks won't be one of these as this specialization will require a lot of low wealth Sims to do your bidding.
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Warning: Construction Zone Ahead
Before you even build your initial road off of the Highway you're going to need to look at the Coal and Ore deposits maps and see exactly where you're going to need to plan your roads. Not only do you need to have your main buildings set right onto the ore deposit, you're going to need to plan where your additional shafts are going to go for maximum output. One trick I've used is to set up the roads exactly the way I want them first. Roads in SimCity 2013 don't need to be connected to the Highway in order to be laid down, so while you have the ore or coal deposits map up open up your road tool and set down the road to be in the perfect position. If you're going to go into mining full force, all of the other roads will simply have to bend to this need and not the other way around.
Check out my SimCity 2013 Traffic Guide to help prevent traffic issues from happening in the first place.
The Freight Rail Terminal and Cargo Ship Dock options for the Trade Port are not physically connected to it. It may look a little odd, but as long as your rail or ocean connection is close enough to the Trade Port that you can plop one of these modules down, goods will automatically appear in your storage lots even though there's no visible connection between the modules.
Plan Your Trade Route
This and the Drilling specialization is very similar in it's set up. Now that you've got your starting roads all set, you now need to plan how you're going to get all of those metals in and out of your city. While trucks will do the job most of the time, one of the very worst things that can happen is getting yourself into a surprise traffic horror and suddenly having your income cut in half due to gridlock.
This means you need to construct a Trade Port and set up an alternate method of transport. Your two options are to send your metals out by Train or by Boat. Boats are massive and can take a vast amount of your cargo to and from your trade port, but they can only carry one resource at a time. Several ships will come and go during the day but the massive loads can make you feel like you’re in a boom and bust cycle... you either don't have enough of a resource or you’re bursting at the seams. Trains by contrast don't come and go as often as the boats do, but they'll be able to contain a car for each lot connected to your Trade Port. You’re not limited to one or the other however, and if you put your trade port near a viable site for the Cargo Ship Dock you can extend your Heavy Rail close enough to the Trade Port to have the best of both worlds. Until you can afford it however, set up a Trade Depot or two. You'll need them till you can get access to the metals lots on the Trade Port.
Open up the Metals Specialization window and click the 'Guide Me' button. Not only will the game offer suggestions for what you should do next on the fly, it will also give you reward money for performing certain tasks that you were going to do anyway.
It's Time to Start Pulling Those Riches out of the Ground
Now that you've done all the planning it's time to start digging. As mentioned earlier, you're going to want to plant each of your mines in a spot that both gets them on your resource, but allows you optimum placement of your mining shafts.
Each of your mining buildings in SimCity 2013 has several things in common like the identifier sign and the additional mining shafts that allow digging over a larger area. Each also allows the addition of up to four delivery truck garages and allows for a delivery truck to haul 5 tons of material at a time per garage from the mine to a viable trade location. This could be something like a trade port or directly to an industry building that uses it like a power plant.
If your end goal is to send a lot of metals to a great work you don't need to change your exporting strategy. Setting your local Trade Port to use the metals locally will send all of the Metal and Alloy your project needs out to it, but you can set the trade port to Export your metals and the Great Work will still get what it needs. It will take a little bit longer, but it won't break the bank.
It’s Time to Take It to the Next Level
After you've sold a significant amount of metals you'll have access to the Metals HQ and one upgrade. This upgrade should almost always be the Smelting Factory as it will get your economic engine running in high gear and will help you make money hand over fist. The Smelting Division will cost 200K however, with the base Smelting Factory costing another 54,500, so make sure you've built up a significant amount of cash to keep yourself safe from budget shortfalls till you’re in full production.
The Smelting Factory comes by default with one Metals Furnace. Although it might be tempting to remove that module and replace it with an Alloy Furnace you should keep it for the time being. The only resource you need to construct metal is Ore, so if you ever have problems with your Coal supply at one point or another your factories won't completely shut down, allowing you at least some income to help fix the problem.
Once you've sold enough Metal, add up to three extra Alloy Furnace modules to your Smelting Factory and you can start to really rake in the money from the global market.
Keep Growing Your Metals HQ
At this point your making money hand over fist, but there are still more things that you can do. With added sales of your metals to the global market you can unlock additional divisions of the Metals HQ. The Commerce Division will allow you to unlock Coal and Raw Ore storage lots at your Trade Port. This is important because no resource is infinite, and you will run out of Ore and Coal eventually. By adding these modules to your Trade Port you can import these into your city in great quantities and ship out the processed metal at the same time. The lots at a Trade Port might look similar in size to those of a Trade Depot but they store many more goods, which can be good in the late game as some of your infrastructure will shut down if all of its storage lots are full to the brim.
The Engineering Division of the Metals HQ will allow you to construct the Advanced Coal Mine. When you have access to this you can immediately remove your old mine and place this one on top of it. Not only does the mine itself dig up more coal than the standard mine, but you can place many more additional shafts as well allowing the single mine to drastically increase its mining footprint.
Mining HQ Upgrades
Mine 96 Tons of Coal or Ore
Earn $350,000 in Metals Profit
Earn $700,000 in Metals Profit
Earn $2,000,000 in Metals Profit
Playing with Metal is a Dangerous Game
It can be easy to focus on the money aspect of this specialty but don't forget about the downsides of this specialization as well. First of all this is a very dirty business and you not only will release a lot of air pollution but the areas around your smelting facilities will grow dark with ground pollution as well. Your workers can and will get sick while at work on a regular basis, so you will want to either have a Hospital in a central location that will be capable of handling these areas, or using spot coverage with several strategically placed clinics that you’re sick and injured can go to. To minimize the risk of sickness to your Sims you should build their homes a significant distance away and build up your mass transit system so they'll be able to be in a safe spot at least some of the time.
The other big danger of this kind of specialty is Hasmat Fires. This is a special kind of chemical fire that your normal fire fighting force is not able to handle and without a Hasmat Garage at your Large Fire Station you’re going to have your industry burning down on a regular basis. Not only that your workers thinking they're safe will stand outside to watch the burning building only to become hospitalized from the toxic fumes. Simply adding a mining building into your city raises the risk of a Hasmat Fire at all of your Industrial buildings.
Enjoy Your Windfall
Now that you've got your entire infrastructure in place and your selling metals on the open market, you'll find that while it’s dirty, it’s also sitting on a pile of cash. Developing the Metals specialty in SimCity 2013 is a great way to set up a second city in your region allowing you to send large amounts of cash for infrastructure, not to mention resources to your second city. You may not want to live in your mining town, but it will be a solid footing for setting yourself up for greatness.