Hard Lessons: What I've Learned in 30+ Years as a Small-Scale Gold Miner (Part 4)
(Yours truly "hamming" it up for the camera.)
Be realistic about your prospects. Although I can see where this admonition could be perceived as a pun, it surely wasn't intended to be! When I say "prospects" I mean your options and potentials, but I guess actual (physical) mining prospects could just as easily be thrown in the mix as well. Maintaining a balanced, realistic attitude about small-scale or recreational mining can be difficult at times, especially if you are a newcomer to mining. That said, it's not just "newbies" who can get infected by unrealistic expectations when it comes to gold mining...plenty of veterans and oldtimers do too.
Although sad to say, I think honesty is in very short supply these days. And believe it or not the person we are most dishonest with a great deal of the time is ourselves. To gain a truly realistic (and hence, more productive) view of your mining prospects (both actual and imagined) you have to be honest with yourself first and secondly, with those other miners, suppliers, claimholders, etc., that you come into contact with. By all means be positive and upbeat, but don't over inflate your gold mining skills, your abilities, or your recoveries. Learn to look at your gold mining activities with a critical eye always. You'll not only gain a solid mining reputation but you'll also save yourself some angst along the way as well.
Don't get greedy. Most of you out there (and probably myself as well) will never recover large amounts of placer gold worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. I'm not being cruel or negative here, it's simply a statement of fact. But the funny thing is, I've seen miners (and their family members and associates) fall prey to the greed "monster" when only hundreds of dollars were at stake in a mining endeavor. Gold, even small amounts of the yellow metal, can transform nominally decent and upright folks into antagonistically greedy and even threatening "Frankensteins" you'll have a hard time recognizing as the people you thought you knew. Many a good mining friendship or partnership has been ruined by greed, and in some instances, people have been assaulted and even killed because of it. Don't let any of this ever happen to you and more importantly, don't become a greed "monster" yourself. Keep things in perspective and, if you need examples, e-mail me and I'll tell you about 2 actual incidents where small-scale miners lost their lives (i.e., were murdered) because of gold greed.
Be flexible and learn to adapt. To become truly proficient and successful at small-scale gold mining you need to learn to become as flexible and adaptable as you possibly can. The very nature of gold mining does not lend itself to hard and fast rules etched in granite and players on the mining stage who are either unable or unwilling to adapt will be left in the proverbial dust. Shit will happen out there, Ma Nature will throw curve balls at you, equipment will fail, and tools will break. Be prepared for these sorts of things and many, many others that will come your way during your mining career, no matter how slight or inconsequential that career may be in the eyes of others. Always have a back-up plan and if everything does go down the toilet, sit down, take a deep breath, and come up with a viable alternative. Like Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) used to say, "Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee."
Some of you may be wondering why there aren't any solid, concrete "do this and that," "this way and that way," tips here. Well, my friends, like life in general not everything in gold mining is about externals. A good deal of it is mental and for lack of a better word, philosophical.
Good luck out there.
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "There's No Substitute for Experience"
(c) J.R. 2011
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org