There's an area near the vast central wastelands called Sandy Gulch that's marginally suitable for farming. We'd like you to build a mining colony there. The Gulch sits near the rim of the Great Eastern Barrens and has very little arable land. In the background, the Aven expedition starts becoming... Interesting. Kalandra goes missing in the tunnels beneath the Gulch, forcing a search and rescue operation led by Jack Toren, while a new kind of animal manifests its presence on the surface.
This is a large, open map with very limited supplies of water and arable land. The layout is complicated to boot, with a large number of worm holes that limit expansion opportunities. In essence, the layout of the gulch forces you to leapfrog from one resource node to another. On the other hand, you have plenty of resources available, including no less than four geothermal vents in your immediate vicinity, numerous iron and potash deposits, and a good number of zorium deposits.
This is the first mission that requires you to flex your planning muscles. You will have to focus on exploiting the available arable land to its fullest extent (so that oasis will experience the wonders of clear-cutting) and maximizing water income. The generous iron deposits will be a great help.
Quinoa will be your go-to crop for the duration of your stay at Sandy Gulch. The trade hub becomes a vital part of your supply chain here, as it allows you to trade gold mined from the deposits here for 200 corn per trip, making it an extremely effective source of food.
Missions! Vory's first mission is to build a geothermal power plant and that's a logical first step, particularly since you will have to put up with the vents, uh, belching clouds of poisonous gas right into your colony's intake fans (which are a bad choice to build here, so avoid them, unless you cap every vent with a generator). In general, she provides a fine development curve for your colony in this mission and her missions need to be completed to progress the story and the mission itself. Continue until you can build a research center, then build the four requested geothermals and expand the colony until you can build the expedition center.
The rest of the mission, once you have a stable colony, means you'll be touring the area with your expedition ship. You'll first have to rescue four stranded explorers, then gather commendations. To make the process go smoothly, consider building a second expedition center and/or upgrading the research center to level 2 to unlock expedition upgrades.