The Perennial Question: "Where Can I Find Gold?"

 A Simple Statement of Fact

One question I am asked again and again and again is "Where can I find gold?" Although you old timers and mining veterans out there already know the answer to this one, those just starting out in small-scale or recreational prospecting, gold panning, and mining often don't have a clue.

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When I say this I do so without malice or's a simple statement of fact. Novices, "newbies," greenhorns, or newcomers...take your pick...truly have no answer to this pertinent question. That's why they ask it in the first place.

Classic "Newbie" Question

No, I won't answer this classic "newbie" question by resorting to the old mining adage, "Gold is where you find it." That quote may be understood on a variety of levels by those of us who've been around the mining block for a while now, but it's of absolutely NO value to a novice. Nada. Zippo.

So this is for all you mining newcomers out there, you greenhorns just taking those first baby steps with pick, pan, and shovel. Where can you find gold?

1) Where gold has been found before. One of the best places to find some gold is where others have found it in the past. Common sense right? Old mining districts; old mining camps; regions where gold rushes or stampedes took place; locations where gold production figures were substantiated and recorded; and areas where lode or placer gold was mined on a large, medium, or small scale are all good bets for mining novices. Sure, these are "leftovers" but that's what most of us (even old burn outs like me) work. Why? Because there's still gold to be had in these locations.

2) Where gold geology is favorable and mineralization has taken place. This one is a bit tougher for greenhorns because most (if not all) of them don't have the requisite understanding yet of the geophysical and visual clues that say "gold may be here or close by." But even the most inexperienced novice can read a geological bulletin or get online and do a bit of research in this vein (no pun intended!). There is an amazing wealth of information out there about gold geology and mineralization and any newcomer (or veteran or old timer) who doesn't make use of it and learn from it is going to be missing a big chunk of what it takes to get the gold.

 (Nice chunk of free-milling gold ore.)

3) Alternative locations that may be under your very nose. These "alternative" locations will have little to do with gold mining per se but they can produce more gold over time than most public panning areas you'll ever work or even many gold claims. Locations like popular beaches, old swimming holes, back bays, parks, recreation areas, and so on. Yep, I am talking about metal detecting (beach or coin hunting). If you learn your stuff well the sheer amounts of gold jewelry (10kt, 14kt, even 18kt) you can recover with time, effort, and experience can be more rewarding cash-wise than you ever thought imaginable. I know...when I was working Southern California beaches in the mining off-season back in the 1980s I recovered many thousands of dollars in gold jewelry (rings, bracelets, necklaces, etc.). I called this winter-time treasure hunting "beach mining" and I became very good at it. Ultimately what I am saying here is this: "remain open to the possibilities when it comes to getting gold."

I wish you all the best of luck out there.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Gold Mining Questions and Answers: Part 3"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2011

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