I decided I wanted to have a miner for early cataclysm when gathering tends to actually be worth as much or more than crafting.
I kinda bolloxed it up by not having enough time to level him to 80 before release, but I'm figuring a good shot at lots of player and lag free zones in outland and northrend come Dec. 7th, and I might catch up in time to still make it worthwhile. I do have 2 80s on my current main server. I could, I suppose, transfer another, but I am massively averse to transferring characters for goldmaking purposes. It feels like paying real money for gold.
In any case, one thing that I've found when leveling with a gathering profession is that it's a royal pain in the arse because unless you go out of your way to gather, you level past the things you can pick really quickly. One thing I love about mining is that you can come pretty close to powerleveling it with smelting, and it only requires actually going out and mining stuff in two spots (340-350 and 375-450/425 in cata).
Even more surprising, it turns out you can do most of this powerleveling for profit. Obviously every server is different, but so far I've done it a bunch of times and it always has been somewhere between cheap and profitable all told to get to 290ish.
This latest was surprisingly good. Here are the prices I dealt with:
copper ore 10s-25s
tin ore 20s-40s
tin bar 8s-20s
bronze bar 34s-75s
silver ore 5-10g ea.
silver bar 1g ea.
iron ore 50s-75s
iron bar 75-80s
gold ore 2g
gold bar 2g
mithril ore 75s-1g
mithril bar 75s-1g
thorium ore 75s-1g50s
thorium bar 2g50s-3g
So I smelted copper bars until I pegged. smelted the tin that was 20s, then smelted a huge pile of bronze with all the copper and tin, which I promptly sold *all* of at 50s ea that evening (along with the 3 stacks worth I had to buy out because it was below 50s). That all made me about 200g while skilling to 115. Silver was the kicker. I had to eat 12 silver ores to get to iron, costing me almost half what I made on the bronze. Iron will probably turn out to be profitable also, but it didn't sell as fast as the bronze so I don't know yet. Gold and Mithril will be basically breakeven if I can sell it all at current prices or close. Thorium is where I made my killing. I smelted about 800 bars for an average profit of 1g75s/bar. That's 1.5k gold for pulling a pile of crap off the ah and going afk for 10 minutes of smelting. Oh, and 80% of my thorium sold overnight at 2g69s, so that profit is pretty much locked in.
So I'm sitting at 290 mining after less than an hour in sw, and I made 1/2 of what I'd normally make in that time spent crafting and ah-ing.
PS: after discovering the new dwarven district for my forge-using activities, I think I am almost willing to forgive blizzard for ruining my mb/ah fun. This would have taken at least another 10 minutes of running around if I'd done it in old stormwind. Even IF wouldn't have been all that exciting. The only city pre-shattering that was convenient for a blacksmith/miner was thunder bluff. I'm guessing Org is now better also, but I haven't logged a horde since the 23rd.