I got a C&R license just to get access to SKSs delivered to the house. And the two SKS rifles I own haven't disappointed at all. There is something magical about the 7.62x39 round stacked-one-by-one in a stripper clip and effortlessly (well, almost, and after lots of practice) getting seated into the magazine. The two I own, which are on opposite ends of the quality spectrum (one is straight up a sight for blind eyes, not cared for during service, and came caked in cosmoline that actually made it look better, and the other appears to be minimally fired and the wood stock still lusters beautifully) both have the same performance in the 75-100 yard range (never tested beyond this) and both are Norinco - the "cheap" SKS options right now.
It's my favorite rifle to shoot by far, and has no problem w/ steel or brass. Ammo makes a huge difference in reliability and grouping.
With that said, the price on them has jumped drastically in the past year (Chinese models). A "good condition" Russian or Yugoslavian is going to be 1.5-2x + the cost of a "good condition" Chinese model. There was a time the Yugo/Romanian models were cheaper than the Chinese models, but there seems to be a trend reversal for some reason. The Yugoslavian models are actually a "clone" and perhaps have developed their own collector base or simply were kept in better condition. Some say the Russian SKS is better than others, but don't know how true that is across the board. It certainly costs more and probably has a higher resale value. I paid $450 and $500 for mine.
Finally: if you go the SKS route, just make sure it's cleaned well before using. Lots of initial "problems" from the SKS come from not cleaning it properly which can cause firing pin, line, ejection issues, etc. May not be a bad idea to bring it by a gunsmith who can give it the okay before serious use. Of course, if you're familiar with the platform/mechanics, disregard.
I think if not an SKS, building an AR for 7.62x39 is probably preferrable to the Mini 30 for cost, effectiveness, and maintenance purposes.
The SKS paratrooper/carbine models look fun, take detachable mags, but I have zero experience with them.