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Copper and Tin - WoW Mining Locations
This is the first type of mineral that you'll encounter in WoW. Copper is plentiful in all of the start zones, and you will quickly find that most zones lend themselves to a natural loop of some sort. Additionally, you will soon notice that mining nodes can be found in predictable areas and patterns. The tops of rises, along mountain bases, and within caves are almost guaranteed mining location hot-spots. You will be mining copper until you reach skill level 65, at which point you can move on to tin.
Following the logical leveling progression, tin will be found in the next zones. It is most plentiful in Arathi Highlands, the Barrens, and Thousand Needles. Tin really only has one good purpose, which is to be smelted with copper into bronze. For this reason, don't neglect copper nodes just because you've leveled beyond them. Copper will still have a place in your life at least until skill level 125.
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Iron and Mithril
Arathi Highlands, Stranglethorn Vale, Desolace, Thousand Needles, Hinterlands, and Tanaris are the zones where you will find the greatest number of WoW mining locations for iron. On PvP server, Stranglethorn has long been notorious for prolific ganking, and may best be avoided unless you are at max level or traveling with a buddy.
Since you may already be in either Arathi on the Eastern Kingdoms or Thousand Needles in Kalimdor from mining tin, those zones will suit you well through skill level 175. Just like bronze was made by smelting together bars of copper and tin, steel is created by smelting bars of iron with pieces of coal, purchasable from most mining and blacksmith suppliers or dropped by certain elemental mobs.
At level 175 you'll be able to mine mithril, which means it's time to head out to Hinterlands. No other zone in all of Azeroth compares to the riches you'll glean by running laps around the outside edges of this area. Badlands is good if you're still pointing from Iron, as well, but again, you will find far more nodes in grassy zone of Hinterlands.
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Silver, Gold, Truesilver
Silver is a rare spawn of a tin node, and can be mined at skill level 75. The best places to find silver, therefore, are the same zones where tin is most densely located. Gold requires level 155 and is a rare spawn of Iron, and Truesilver will be found in a mithril node you can mine at level 205.
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And now, after much struggle and hardship, you've arrived at the top of the line in WoW mining locations. Thorium is the ore requiring the highest skill level in vanilla WoW, Azeroth, and as such, it is found only in the highest level zones. To make things even more interesting, there are small and rich thorium veins which require different skill levels to mine. You will typically receive more ores per node from the rich veins.
With a 230 skill level you can mine the small veins. Un'goro Crater is undoubtedly your best bet for the maximum number of veins, all located along the outside edges of an easily navigated circular route. Once you reach skill level 255, you'll be able to hit the rich veins, as well. If you're not pointing reliably from small veins any longer, go ahead and ride on over to Silithus. This barren desert wasteland is a hot spot for both small and rich veins, albeit covered as they are in ooze. Circuits around the outside of the zone and inside caves and wasp nests will yield the most ore possible.
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You can mine dark iron veins at level 230, the same as small thorium. The only caveat is that you cannot learn to smelt it without completing a quest involving a considerable amount of mats and a trip the the very end of Blackrock Depths. If you're a completionist, or someone who refuses to purchase the Burning Crusade expansion, this may very well be worth doing.
You'll still be able to point from mining thorium in Azeroth after you've trained past the 300 skill level, but you'll be better served by moving on to Outland instead. Make sure to check out the next article in this series for WoW mining locations in Outland and Northrend.