That's taking a cynical view of mining (or other industries), but even so, here are a few opportunities in mining which could be used to influence a variety of mining ships:
- There could be a "dual laser" mining option (similar to hull scraping) which could either be used to "scrape" a rock to gather its valuable resources, or combined to work as a more powerful mining laser for larger rocks...
- There could be smaller versions of "rock munching" ships (like Orion), either solo or multi-crewed.
- There could be mining ships with increased capacity (to enable longer time mining and fewer trips to refineries), but smaller fuel tanks to limit quantum drives that can be fitted (lower speed\range).
- There could be ships (probably more suited to multi-crew) with lesser storage, but extended "stability" time, to allow for more selective Quantanium mining.
- There could be ships with lesser storage, but able to refine what is mined (excluding volatile substances, maybe limited to 1/2/3 minerals selected by the pilot) with boxes output like salavage ships do.
- There could be ships with onboard sorting of minerals, operating like the salvage ships, where the collectors generate 1SCU boxes of the selected material(s) that can be shifted to other ships to transport to a refinery for refining while the miner continues work.
- There could be ships that mine faster\lower instability in target, but have to be in a "landed" state on a planet\moon surface to mine.
- There could be a mining ship with the ability to transport a ROC, allowing the ability to mine\collect all mineable resources.
- There could be a ship that uses "drones" (once implemented) to harvest from rocks.
- Or a combination of these could be applied (larger capacity, extended "stability" time, limited fuel capacity, for example).
Each of these would provide a slightly different mining experience, while still being able to effectively compete for the best "cash/time" depending on the operator and how they operate\what they mine (Some of these would also be applicable for salvage as well)..
For cargo, there's a number of options already in place, which differ on the amount of cargo to move, size of cargo, distance to travel (more important once Pyro arrives), where they can deliver, and how easy they are to load/unload (as well as whether they can do this themselves or need external assistance).
Lowering\restricting income from other areas (bounty hunting\bunkers\"Quantanium" mining\etc.) to provide similar potentials across all game areas would also help and encourage people to try other areas of the game, rather than sticking to the "highest paying" options that some feel forced into\believe they have to take part in.