"Can I Make a Living Gold Mining?: a Miner's Response"

(Jesse cooling off with some locals in Afghanistan's Helman River.)

Good Gold Ground Elsewhere

If you've read my series of posts on the question of making a living as a gold miner, you know I play the Devil's advocate in my responses. Gold mining's a tough gig and only those willing to sacrifice and commit are going to make it in the long run.

I've stated previously that making a living as a small-scale gold miner here in the continental United States is a tough act. I also said that if you were serious about it, you'd probably have to locate yourself good gold ground elsewhere...perhaps even out of the country.

I Want to Be Proven Wrong

I recently received the following from a small-scale miner named Jesse (last name withheld by request) who disagrees with my views on making a living as a gold miner. That's his prerogative and I truly want to be proven wrong in this regard.

Gold Prospecting Books
Gold Pans

Still, Jesse is doing his thing in other countries, in most instances far from what we would term civilization here in the U.S. So in a way, his success in far away lands validates part of my viewpoint, does it not? I think so anyway.

Jesse's View

Here is what Jesse has to say about making a living gold mining:

"Wow, what a read ('Can I Make a Living Gold Mining? [Part 4])'."I have to disagree on almost all your points, but maybe I am different than the 'normal' person.First, I just had a gold dredge build for under $2,000...it was finished yesterday and we plan to put it to the test this week in some local rivers."

"I have traveled the world...yes the world...from Africa to South America with my nose in the dirt and a hope in my hand. Currently I am in Ecuador where I do river dredging and my cousin does hard rock mining with mile-long shafts and over 120 miners working. I just like being in the open."

"Your 10 Questions Can be Learned"

"Your 10 questions can all be learned...like sailing...get in a boat, read a book, and do it. I did. If you wait for the 'what if's' life will pass you by. Can you make a living out of gold mining? I do with employees doing the dredging and me doing the cleaning and weighing...these are EMPLOYEES not partners."

"What I miss are my friends in the U.S. and my Mexican food, so every now and then I come home for just those things."

"You Can Do It."

"The question again, can you make a living mining? YES! It's dirty work and you're far away from people. Can you drive in and unload and start dredging? Get real...sometimes it takes four or five hours of hiking, or  four days of walking in with your equipment, gear, gas, supplies, etc., on your back...and I'm an old guy."

(Jesse at "the waterfall" in Ecuador.)

 "Am I happy to be going at a slower pace than in the U.S. and without someone breathing down my neck? Hell yes! So why not park your car a little farther from the WalMart front door and start walking? You can do it."

"I've Even Mined in Afghanistan"

"Believe it or not, I've even mined in Afghanistan. One of the pictures is of me swimming in the Helman River. I am one of the few outsiders who can do this because I know the locals that mine in Afghanistan. Even while swimming I am the only American for about 200 hundred miles around..there are great mining opportunities here."

(Note: I suspect Jesse means he is the only American miner around. If he's been to Helman, that province is chock full of Taliban and American troops. J.R.)

"The other picture is me at a waterfall in Ecuador. We hiked up a mountain to the top (I almost died!), then back down past the road to a waterfall that some locals wanted me to investigate. Can you make it as a miner? Yes, but it ain't power bars and hot meals."

"Jesse in Ecuador"

"PS: Jim, it always gets me how in the movies
Indiana Jones is always so clean! It takes me maybe 2 minutes here and I am dirt and mud from head to toe."

Jesse's words speak for themselves. I'll let you ponder them...

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Can I make a Living Gold Mining? (Part 3)"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2011

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


  1. Although interesting, I wouldn't consider Jesse's point viable for the average Joe. He's more an exception than the rule I'd wager. Also, considering he's outside of the US, employing local (probably starving) labor, I really can't give his example much applicability to those of us stuck in the states with all of the oppressive regulations (dredging, employer, taxes, inflation, etc). Interesting read though. Nothing wrong with living the lifestyle Jesse's living. If only...

  2. I couldn't have said it better my friend. Your comments are right on the money. Thanks for commenting and for all your support! Jim


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