False Expectations of Success

 (Despite what the "dream merchants" may tell you...small-scale gold mining or treasure hunting are NOT get-rich-quick schemes.)

"80% of the World's Gold?"

I recently received this question from Amber and Paul, a couple of aspiring gold prospectors and miners who maintain a ongoing correspondence with me via e-mail:

"With all the 'dream merchants' telling us that 80% of the world's gold is still out there to be found, shouldn't that number be more like 40% or lower?"
False Expectations

Amber and Paul have touched on a key point here and it's one I've addressed peripherally in previous articles and posts. So, allow me the opportunity to expound on this subject once again in greater detail.

Wolverine Boots
Dickies Work Clothes

My basic definition of a "dream merchant" is someone who willingly exploits your fondest dreams and aspirations for strictly monetary (selfish) purposes. Dream merchants do this in any number of ways, but the most common is creating false expectations of success.

 (Don't let the dream merchants pick your pocket.)

I call these false expectation hustles "come ons" and in the small-scale mining and treasure hunting realms they typically include book titles or statements like "Find an Ounce of Gold a Day!," "Fistfuls of Gold!," "Finding Gold the Easy Way," "Dowsing Your Way to Riches," or "Locate Silver and Gold Up to 50 Miles Away."

What They Won't Tell You

Another very common hustle used by many dream merchants, and some less-than-scrupulous gold prospecting and metal detecting clubs looking to "recruit" new members is to use the classic come on that Amber and Paul mention:

"Hey guys and gals, only 25% (or 20%, or 15%, or 10%??) of the world's gold (or treasure) has ever been mined or recovered. That means there's still plenty of gold out there you can find!"

That is, of course, if you just buy the equipment, gear, books, metal detectors, and incidental supplies that particular dream merchant is trying to sell you. What the dream merchants out there won't tell you, however,  is that even if this 75% or 80% statement was true (which is highly unlikely from a purely scientific or statistical standpoint), the so-called easy to get gold has already been gotten!

Getting at the Gold is the Problem

Sure, a lot of gold (and treasure) is still out there waiting to be recovered. But getting at it is the problem. For example, Carlin type lode deposits containing micron particle gold are mined using resources and gear that cost into the tens (if not hundreds) of millions. Ditto for large-scale underwater treasure hunts. Who the hell among us has that sort of cash laying around?

Metal Detectors

Conversely, the so-called huge amounts of placer gold still remaining are either off limits (claims, private property, etc.) or are in areas overseas or in locations so remote that most small-scale miners (or treasure hunters) will never even get to them, let alone have the opportunity to work them.

Here's a Tip

Don't get me wrong here...it's perfectly fine to be in the business of purveying small-scale mining and treasure hunting gear to those who need it (which is most of us, by the way). That is, as long as you are open and honest about what you do and more importantly, what you represent to your customers.

However, the dream merchants out there know that ignorance is their greatest ally in exploiting the sincerity, honesty, and heart-felt aspirations of those just starting out in gold prospecting, mining, or treasure hunting. So here's a tip for all you dream merchants, hustlers, scam artists, and borderline or dishonest shop owners:

As long as I'm still kicking and doing this online thing, I'll burn your asses every chance I get...you can bank on that.


If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Gold Mining's Dirty Little Secrets"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2012

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


  1. I appreciate this topic J.R. When I first started I took a big toe dip into some of the offerings of the dream merchants. I'm really lucky I found your blog early on it saved me a bunch of grief as well as taught me a lot more than the books and dvd's I purchased. Thank you!

    1. Steph you are most welcome. Glad to help if I can. Keep getting that gold and keep the faith! J.R.

  2. I agree with what you are saying, but I bet the "8o percent is still out there" is a low estimate. When you consider how big the Earth is and how shallow man has been able to scratch the surface, even with the biggest and best tools, there has to be a LOT more! For all we know the center is solid gold 100 miles across. Trouble is, nobody will ever be able to find out. So these crooks arn't realy lieing, just missleading. Kind of like the hotels that say "Lewis and Clark slept here". Well, I'm sure someone named Lewis and someone named Clark did, but no THE Lewis and Clark! Just go's to show you can't allways believe what your told, or even what you see. Heck McDonald's hambergers even look good in the picture!! YUCK!

    1. You make some good points here Gary. The one thing I failed to mention in the body of the post is the fact that many larger placer gold deposits are buried under so much overburden there is NO individual miner or group of miners who will ever be able to reach these deposits via small-scale efforts or gear. As always, best to you my friend. J.R.

  3. JR
    We were quite thrilled to see questions of ours relevant enough to share with your readers. We appreciate your patience as we cut our "Mining" teeth. We are always thankful for your help. We learn from those willing to help us and we help others as we have been helped. Soon we hope to share some of our experiences in the motherlode area with you and your readers.

    Amber and Paul

  4. Thanks Amber and Paul...and thanks for providing the inspiration for this post. I wish you both great success out there! J.R.

  5. Hello J.R.

    as has been touched on when it's said that 90, 80, 70% (whatever number)
    has yet to be "recovered" what needs to be understood is gold as an element in not super rare 58th on the list, it occurs in almost all
    metamorphic rocks (traces) what is rare about gold is it being found
    in "paying" quantities.
    like you said about the Carlin mine we're talking grams per ton but
    a hugh quantity of ore.
    you've said it at least a hundred times here the easy gold is long gone
    for the small scale miner it's going to be working hard to get what you get and as you try to advise people that's as it should be right?
    nothing worth having should come easy

  6. very well put my friend. I couldn't have stated it better myself. Right...nothing truly worthwhile in this life comes free of charge...in mining it takes commitment, persistence, and lots of plain old hard work. Thanks for the great comments. J.R.


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