"Can I Make a Living Gold Mining? (Part 2)"

( A Real '49er.)

The Key Question

It's been some time now since I first addressed the key question I am often asked by newcomers to small-scale or recreational gold mining. "Can I make a living gold mining?"

In light of the difficult economic times we are now experiencing in the U.S. (and other parts of the world at large), this question has taken on even greater significance since I first addressed it in my original post on the subject. So, if you are new to "Bedrock Dreams" and gold mining in general, I highly recommend you read that post first. You'll find it at:

"Can I Make a Living Gold Mining?," http://goldbedrockgold.blogspot.com/2008/08/can-i-make-living-gold-mining.html

Simple Answers

OK, with that out of the way allow me to once again provide you with my simple two-word answer to this important question. Probably not.

I won't repeat myself here beyond this. I've laid out the basics in the previous post and if I went through the same old litany again I'd just be repeating myself to no good cause and perhaps boring you to death in the process. That's one reason I like simple answers.

A Method to My Madness?

However there are some additional factors and issues on this topic I feel I should address for the benefit of those of you out there who are novices or newcomers to small-scale mining. Again, there is a method to my madness in writing and maintaining this blog (which requires no small commitment of time and level of effort on my part, by the way).

Sure, my major emphasis is to provide my readers with useful information on all aspects of recreational or small-scaleplacer mining. But then many other prospecting and mining sites online do the same (or attempt to). Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they don't. In a few isolated instances I find myself questionioning the basic literacy of their authors, let alone their writing/presentation skills.

One major difference between the majority of those sites and "Bedrock Dreams" is that I don't always present a "rosy" view of mining in general. Aside from the fact that I am literate and a pretty decent writer (yes, if I don't say so myself!), I also try my best to impart to you what's good about small-scale gold mining as well as its hidden pitfalls, particularly as the latter relate to mining economics (i.e., getting gold and making money).

An Unrealistic View

Truth be told, I have little if any tolerance for those miners, prospecting club "poobahs," writers, mining equipment dealers, self-proclaimed experts, or publishers (a.k.a. "dream merchants") who tend to to paint a picture of small-scale mining economics that, at the very least, is highly unrealistic and that at its worst, borders on fraud. What do I mean exactly?

For instance advertising come ons or phrases like "find an ounce of gold a day!" This one has been out there for a while now and you know what? It really burns my ass.

Do you have any idea at all how difficult it is for even experienced miners working good ground to pull a troy ounce of gold per day??? Let alone a novice? The truth is, less than 2-3 pennyweights a day is the norm for most recreational miners (and for newcomers it's gonna be less than that).

The Hype and Come Ons Don't Stop

But the hype and comes ons don't stop because reality intervenes. Nope. We have many others like "how to strike it rich gold mining," "fistfuls of gold," "hidden riches beneath your feet," "join the new gold rush," "supplement your retirement income" (at least the latter one might be true in some cases) and countless other similar-sounding "hooks" or catchy phrases.

Many of the dream merchants purveying these missives, reports, books, maps, or gear do not always have your best interests in mind. And that's putting it mildly brothers and sisters. Half the time they access free reports and maps (that any of you out there could also access via government websites) and then turn right around and sell that "free" stuff to you. This is particularly true of USGS or state geological services materials.

Turning a Buck

You have to understand that the dream merchants are, above and beyond all other considerations, interested in tapping into your mining dreams, your eagerness, or your "greenhorn" status to turn a buck, pure and simple. And quite a buck it can be. I can absolutely guarantee that nothing the dream merchants sells you ever comes cheap.

Sure, some will provide you with useful information, but they are just as likely to trump up your own possibilities of "striking it rich" while grandstanding on their own successes (if indeed they have any of real consequence). One thing is as certain as death and taxes though. They sure as hell are not gonna tell you that you can't make a living gold mining.

Beware the Dream Merchants (Yet Again)

Why? Wake up my friends! That would be, after all, counterproductive for them.

If the dream merchants and online hustlers told you the complete truth, that is simply that gold mining is extremely hard work for very little returns and that few miners make any real money at it, how many books, videos, maps, or pieces of mining gear could they sell you? I suspect a lot less than they could by hyping things up.

So here is my straight-from-the-heart admonition to you yet again.....beware the dream merchants.

Not So Different Than the "Days of '49"

Finally, while I'm on this rant don't even get me started on those mining and prospecting gear suppliers who take a similar approach or who, by their deliberate silence on this key question, imply that you can make a living at small-scale mining. But the worst of the bunch are those companies that sell real crap like gold "locators," gold dowsing rods, and other super-expensive junk when they know deep down its all nothing but smoke, mirrors, and hype liberally sprinkled with BS.

None of this is really much different than what went down way back in the "Days of '49." The people that really made the big money were not the individual miners but the store and shop owners who charged the '49ers exorbitant prices for basic items or the grifters, hustlers, sharps, and dream merchants who conned them out of their hard-earned gold.

It goes without saying that these tough economic times are roughest on those who can least afford the hits. Trust me my friends, small-scale gold mining is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme. Never was, never will be.

Don't let anyone tell you different. More importantly, don't get hustled.

Take care out there...

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Prehistoric Rivers of Gold (Part 6)"


(c) J.R. 2010

Questions? E-mail me at jr872vt90@yahoo.com


  1. Thanks for looking out for us

  2. I am glad to help any way I can, so thank you for commenting. Good luck out there! J.R.

  3. JR, I second the motion. Thanks for the dose of reality.

    Yet, I believe there is no more healing environment than a day spent in the web of nature, taking in the energy so abundant out there.

    It's more like the paydirt is in the journey more than the destination, and if you hit once or twice, that's gravy.

    BTW, you are a GREAT writer, keep up the good work.

  4. My thanks right back to you for your very kind comments. I really do try and take pride in what I do here as a miner and as a writer as well. J.R.

  5. You can make a living gold mining if you have the right equipment and good ground to mine on , you probably will not get rich but you could make a living at it !!!

  6. Some do...you're right. But very few. Best, J.R.


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