Why Small-Scale Gold Mining Operations Fail (Part 3)

(If a flood or flash flooding can do this to your RV, think what it'll do to your mining equipment.)

Here's my final post in this 3-part series on why small-scale mining operations fail:

Lack of overall mining strategy or plan: You might be surprised how significant this failure is to small-scale placer gold mining operations. Over the years I've seen many individual miners (and a few small-scale commercial operations) use the "helter skelter" approach to mining. What's the "helter skelter" approach? Jumping from spot-to-spot and location-to-location with no rhyme or reason to what you do or why you do it. In this approach logic and planning are discarded in favor of hope or gut-level "feelings." Sure, some miners get lucky (mostly blind luck) with this sort of "lottery ticket" approach. However, if you're truly focused on making money at small-scale mining then you damn well better have an overall strategy or plan to guide you. Otherwise, all your time, money, and effort will most likely be wasted.

Gold Prospecting and Mining Tips

Not anticipating the "unknowns:" Failing to anticipate unknown factors such as significant weather events, equipment malfunctions and breakdowns, illness, injury, and the oftentimes erratic nature of gold paystreaks can put the whammy on your small-scale mining operations in a hurry. No, I don't expect anyone to be able to predict the future (if you could, you wouldn't need to make money mining) or anticipate every potential unknown. Conversely, if you completely fail to anticipate or plan for unknowns in a concrete way, you are setting yourself up for failure in the long run.

Wolverine Boots

No back-up plan: This follows hard on the heels of the previous admonition about unknown factors. Having some sort of viable back-up plan (or plans) can make all the difference in the world if an unanticipated event shuts down your mining operations. Instead of just throwing in the towel or running around like Chicken Little, you'll have a strategy or path forward for dealing with the problem at hand. Hopefully, you'll also have a little gold set aside to deal with the worst-case scenario if that sort of unfortunate event happens. Granted, if Mother Nature does a big number on you all the anticipating and planning in the world probably won't help. Some things are just too big for any of us to control.

(Be careful who you partner up with.)

Not having dependable or trustworthy partners: If you're trying to make money through small-scale gold mining as a group or consortium, you absolutely must have people around you who are dependable, hard working, and trustworthy. Gold mining (hard rock or placer) is a tough enough gig as it is without surrounding yourself with liars, thieves, morons, lazy asses, and various and sundry other types of non hackers. Additionally, remember that even decent people can become "tainted" once larger amounts of gold are found...or as Howard the oldtimer in the classic film "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" put it: "As long as there's no find the noble brotherhood will last...but when the piles of gold begin to grow, that's when the trouble starts."

Gold Concentrates
Gold Pans

Remember What I've Said

In this series I've outlined only a few of the reasons small-scale gold mining operations fail. Obviously, there are many others.

So if you decide to try your hand at gold mining for a living or as a for-profit business, remember what I've said in these posts. It just might save you heartache and a sizable wad of cash at the same time.


If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Gold Mining Questions and Answers: Part 1"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2011

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