Digging, punching, or mining is one of the most fundamental activities in Minecraft, performed (by default) by holding the left mouse button while the cursor is over a block. Digging is used to create passages and tunnels, to clear away unwanted blocks, and is also the primary way of acquiring blocks for future placement or crafting.
 Basics of digging/mining
Digging is accomplished simply by the "Attack" control (normally holding the left mouse button) while the cursor is over a block. If the player is within a range of about 4 meters of the target (the player's reach in a straight line is just under 4 meters/blocks; testing shows about 3.975. Diagonally the player can reach 2 and 13/16th blocks); the player will begin swinging his/her hand, making a repetitive "thump" noise as the player hits the block, and cracks will begin to appear. When the player is in range, the block will also be marked with a wireframe cube outline, showing the current target. After the cracks completely cover the block, it will break, and depending on the type of block and the tool being wielded, it may be harvested for resources.
Although many blocks can be harvested with bare hands, the harder ones require the use of a tool. In particular, to get resources from stone or metal-type blocks, the player will need to use a pickaxe. For harder blocks like iron ore or obsidian, not just any pickaxe will do; the player needs one made from sufficiently hard materials. The player can also use shovels and axes to speed up digging of dirt and wood-type blocks (respectively), although they are not required to get the resource drop. The downside is that tools have durability, and so they eventually wear out.
The player will continue to dig as long as the mouse button is held down, although there is a slight pause of 0.25 seconds between destroying one block and beginning on the one behind it. The player can move freely while digging, and the player can even dig while jumping or swimming. Although there is a speed penalty for the latter two, see below. This makes it easy to dig long tunnels or to clear away a large volume of material.
A potentially dangerous thing that many new players do is dig directly down. This can lead the player into falling into a cave without any light source, being killed by mobs, or falling into lava. For similar reasons, it is not recommended to dig up either, due to the fact that a monster or lava can fall onto the player. Another common mistake made by new players is to stand right next to the wall at which the player is digging. If there is a monster right behind it, it will be able to attack the player. Also, at lower levels, the player might dig into a pool of lava that could potentially kill them, but with proper precautions, this can be avoided.
The player can lose his/her digging progress if the target block changes while digging, so it is best to target the middle of a block's face. Progress is also reset whenever the mouse button is released. This can be used to the player's advantage because of a quirk in the handling of the "cooldown" between blocks: the 0.25 second cooldown is reset when the player releases the mouse. Thus, with proper timing the player can "click mine," increasing the player's overall digging throughput. The "thump" noise is helpful for gauging this: it plays exactly 5 times per second, starting as soon as the player clicks. For example, mining stone with an iron pickaxe takes 0.4 seconds, so there are two thumps plus a little extra time before the block breaks. It used to be possible to "switch mine" by switching targets right as the block broke to accomplish the same thing, but that no longer resets the cooldown. However, moving (walking/etc) while breaking does seem to reset the cooldown; tools enchanted with efficiency and a slight diagonal aim are the best way to use this.
 Digging speed
The speed at which the player digs is controlled by two factors: The block the player is breaking, and the item the player is currently wielding. Every block has a hardness, which determines the base amount of time to break that block if the player hits it with his/her bare hands. The base time in seconds is the block's hardness multiplied by 1.5. The first adjustment to this is based on whether the player can harvest the block with current tool. If the player cannot, then the base time is multiplied by 3.33.
Assuming that the player can harvest the block, the next check is whether the player's tool helps speed digging for this block. By and large, pickaxes speed up (and are required for) mining, axes help chop wood, and shovels dig dirt/gravel faster.
If the tool helps, then it increases digging speed by a constant multiplier, given in the following table:
Although swords do not count as "helping" to harvest a block, they perform 1.5 times better (regardless of material) than bare hands or other items on some blocks (see: Sword#Uses), although swords take double durability loss when harvesting blocks. All swords have a speed multiplier of 15 against cobwebs. Shears have a multiplier of 15 against cobwebs and leaves, and 5 against wool.
Lastly, digging can be slowed if the player is not on the ground. There is a 5x penalty (digging takes five times as long) if the player is not standing on the ground while digging. There is also a 5x penalty to digging while in water. If the player is swimming, (underwater and not walking on the bottom,) then the two combine for a whopping 25x penalty, making it very difficult to dig even with tools. However, if the player cannot harvest with the current tool then only the original 3.33x penalty applies, and none of the other adjustments are made.
 Blocks by hardness
The following table shows the time it takes to break each type of block. Values with a red background indicate that it cannot be harvested by that quality of tool. Note that some blocks, like ice, don't drop anything even when they are "harvested"; these are marked with a yellow background. If there is no tool that helps speed up mining the block, the five "tool" columns are left empty. Few blocks are harvested faster with a sword. This speed is listed in the last column, but only if it's different than "nothing".
|End Portal (block)||∞||—||∞||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Dragon Egg||N/A [note 1]||—||N/A||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Lava||N/A [note 2]||—||N/A||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Water||N/A [note 2]||—||N/A||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Block of Coal||5||25||3.75||1.9||1.25||0.95||0.65||—|
|Block of Diamond||5||25||25||25||1.25||0.95||25||—|
|Block of Emerald||5||25||25||25||1.25||0.95||25||—|
|Block of Iron||5||25||25||1.9||1.25||0.95||25||—|
|Block of Redstone||5||25||3.75||1.9||1.25||0.95||0.65||—|
|Block of Gold||3||15||15||15||0.75||0.6||15||—|
|Lapis Lazuli Block||3||15||15||1.15||0.75||0.6||15||—|
|Lapis Lazuli Ore||3||15||15||1.15||0.75||0.6||15||—|
|Nether Quartz Ore||3||15||2.25||1.15||0.75||0.6||0.4||—|
|Chest (including trapped)||2.5||3.75||1.9||0.95||0.65||0.5||0.35||—|
|Nether Brick Fence||2||10||1.5||0.75||0.5||0.4||0.25||—|
|Nether Brick Stairs||2||10||1.5||0.75||0.5||0.4||0.25||—|
|Stone Slabs (any type)||2||10||1.5||0.75||0.5||0.4||0.25||—|
|Wooden Slabs (any type)||2||3||1.5||0.75||0.5||0.4||0.25||—|
|Wooden Stairs (any type)||2||3||1.5||0.75||0.5||0.4||0.25||—|
|Stone Brick Stairs||1.5||7.5||1.15||0.6||0.4||0.3||0.2||—|
|Block of Quartz||0.8||4||0.6||0.3||0.2||0.15||0.1||—|
|Rail (any type)||0.7||1.05||0.55||0.3||0.2||0.15||0.1||—|
|Piston (normal or sticky)||0.5||—||0.75||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Stone Pressure Plate||0.5||2.5||0.4||0.2||0.15||0.1||0.1||—|
|Weighted Pressure Plate||0.5||2.5||0.4||0.2||0.15||0.1||0.1||—|
|Wooden Pressure Plate||0.5||0.75||0.4||0.2||0.15||0.1||0.1||—|
|Flowers (dandelion, rose)||0||—||0||—||—||—||—||—||—|
|Grass (fern, tall grass)||0||—||0||—||—||—||—||—||—|
- Even though in code Dragon Egg has hardness 3, it cannot be mined directly because hitting the egg causes it to teleport.
- These blocks cannot be targeted (the block behind them is mined instead), so they cannot be broken, even though in code they have a finite hardness.
|1.2_02||Lapis Lazuli Ore now drops 4 - 8 Lapis Lazuli per block mined (increased from 1).|
|1.3||Mine time for Sandstone decreased.|
|1.7.3||There was a bug where some wood items were not broken faster by axes.|
|1.9pre4||Efficiency enchantment added, which mines blocks faster.|
|1.9pre6||The mining time of many blocks were made a lot faster, including Redstone Ore, stone brick, Nether Brick, iron bars, doors, Monster Spawners and obsidian.|
|Several block's tool weaknesses have been fixed, such as Crafting Tables now mining faster with an Axe and rails now mining faster with a Pickaxe.|
|Mined stairs of any materials will drop a stair block now instead of a block form of its material.|
|1.3.1||12w22a||Mining ores (except Gold Ore and Iron Ore) rewards the player with Experience Orbs.|
|12w23a||You can see the block breaking animation when other players break blocks.|
|1.4.6||12w50a||Enchanted tools no longer use their enchantments for blocks of the wrong type.|