I realize they had to have a reason for the Cardassians to have built DS9 so they could have the show take place there. However, I always found it a bit of a stretch to make it an ore refinery. I mean, woundn't it make more sense to refine the ore on the surface of Bajor?
I know I'm overthinking this but I'm an engineer. It's what I do.
I think they chose to do it in space because on Bajor, it was very likely that the resistance movement would be constantly attempting to destroy the facilities...
In a station, the Cardassians had more control over who could come and go, therefore lessening the chance of a random attack.
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I think its also due to the general Cardassian militarisation, they use the stations effectively as a defense platform also. Saves having multiple stations when they only needed the one, and meant they could better regulate the flow of materials most likely.
Maybe its cheaper for big ore haulers to load up at the station to transport the ore elsewhere than it would be for them to land on the surface. I would assume landing expends more fuel, so you mine it on the surface, shuttle it up on small, cheap to run vessels, then process it in orbit and load it onto the big freighters there.
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As above, makes for easier transfer of the processed ore to transport ships, rather than risking processed ore in atmospheric flights, also reduces the risk of resistance attacks on a ground facility, but also, it's part of the Cardassian psychology to want to overlook their underlings (ie why the station commander's office is at a higher level than the rest of Ops, where Picard's ready room was on the same level as the rest of the bridge...)
Since the Cardasian war machine was heavily dependent on slave labor it's much easier to manage the workforce in a location where control of the environment is absolute and escape is impossible. There might also be benefits to zero gravity in some aspect of the refining process. It's unlikely that bulk freighters are capable of atmospheric flight, ground facilities are vulnerable to revolutionary efforts so shuttling or for that matter beaming up the raw ore for refining in space before loading into bulk freighters would be more expedient.