Success as a Gold Miner (Part 2)

(One of my occasional mining "pards," Bill M., buckets up gold-bearing gravel at a site here in New Mexico.)

Once again, various factors can contribute to your success as a gold prospector or miner. Here are a few more points you may want to consider if you're looking to achieve greater overall success out in the field:

Be a Problem Solver, Not a Problem Maker

Another key to achieving long-term success as a gold prospector or miner is the ability to be a problem solver and not a problem maker. What are the main differences between the two? Well, problem solvers tend to tackle things head on with a "can do" attitude and a willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Problem solvers also take the time to think things through and arrive at solutions based on logic and accumulated mining knowledge and experience.

Problem makers, on the other hand, continually dredge up excuses for not getting the job done. When they finally do attempt to tackle mining problems, they do so in a scattered, haphazard, and half-assed manner that only creates additional problems for them. It's essentially a no brainer: if you're truly interested in getting the gold (literally and metaphorically) be a problem solver, not a problem maker.

Don't Procrastinate

Here in the American Southwest I often find an attitude about getting things done that's best termed as "manana." Well, tomorrow may be fine if you're OK about getting the job done whenever, but this attitude, as attractive as it can be to some, will not bring you much (if any) mining success.

Successful prospectors and miners know that making timely, informed, and deliberate decisions in their individual approaches to mining is a fundamental key to success. Above all else, they realize that taking action and moving forward are the single-most important factors in how much gold they'll recover in the long term. So which will it be for you? Manana, or being a action taker and decision maker?

Be Self Reliant

Being self reliant means you have the freedom to act on your own goals, decisions, and methods when mining or prospecting. Conversely, being dependent on the whims of others only puts you behind the proverbial eight ball when it comes to pursuing any solid course of action.

(Yours truly in a moment of contemplation...Gold? I'm your man...anytime, anywhere.)

Dependency in its most extreme form is a type of slavery. Self reliance, on the other hand, is the ultimate freedom. So my advice is this...remain free and carry out your mining activities as you see fit and let no one stop you.

Remain Enthusiastic

Enthusiasm for what you do is absolutely necessary for achieving success in any activity. Gold mining in any form can frequently be frustrating and disappointing, especially if you're the type of person in it for the short haul. If you want to be a successful gold miner (on a small scale or otherwise) you'll need a well-developed capacity for handling the hard times, especially by seeing them as part of the process as a whole. - any strap, any length, any color!

Tell you what...I love mining and all things mining. I was born with gold mining in my blood. Even after 33 years of small successes and lots of hard knocks, my enthusiasm for getting the gold has not lessened one bit. There's nothing I'd rather do in my entire life than prospect and mine for gold, come hell or high water. Now that's enthusiasm...

Good luck out there.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "All About Gold Mineralization (Part 3)"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2009

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. JR

    Thank you for sharing these great tips. When Amber and I first started prospecting, we used our Goldbug 1. We can't impress enough how those who have spent time with their Metal Detectors, getting to know it's sounds and understanding their limitations, find gold. You also have to be on gold bearing ground to find gold. We are still learning our detector after 2 years. Some people might say that's pretty sorry, as we haven't found any nuggets, but have found fine gold.

    On the American River in California, we were using our GB1 and the thing kept going off like mad. We'd dig and dig and found no nuggets. We saved the gravel, ran it through a sluice and low and behold, fine gold would shine on the black matting. It's an amazing feeling. We did something right. Those targets you get may not always be false positives or hot rocks. Sluice some of your diggins and you might be pleasantly surprised with what you get. It's the best of both worlds as you use one process to help the other, in gold recovery.

    Thanks for letting us share some of our experiences with your readers.

    Amber and Paul

  2. Thanks for the comments guys. I appreciate your perspective here and your support. Best to you! J.R.

  3. Good morning Jim, Hey, I was noticeing several of your pictures of friends or you in New Mexico,look like you are just filling buckets with dirt. Are you takeing them home to pan or do you have a way to work them on the spot? If you are taking them home, are you able to make it worth while? What about the "tailings", useing it for fill?,How do you work the dirt,pan, recirculating sluice, dry washer ..... anyhow, just wondering, Gary

    1. Gary, in that particular spot we bucket the material up and typically run it through a portable sluice. I do, on occasion, take "juicier" material home to pan...but I only do that with material from certain dry placer locations. Most areas here where I am you can't use much in the way of motorized J.R.

  4. Well that's kind of why I'm asking. Most of the reason I do this is to get into the mountains and cool off in the creek, the gold is a bonus. Of course if I don't find any I don't go back.... What I was thinking, is that if I screened enough material, I could take it home and do it there, safe from forest nazi interferance. I'm realy not sure it would be worth doing that though. About the same time it takes to screen out the rocks, I could just run it through my sluice and be done with it.Then I need to get rid of the tailings,my driveway could use it I guess. It's just not right that I even need to try to think of ways to have fun without getting into trouble with the government. Studying up on this, if I get caught, the fine is a minimum of $150-Max $500. Somehow, I exspect the max......The amount of gold I'm finding wouldn't buy lunch, let alone pay that. I enjoy doing it, is the biggest reason.Anyhow, enough whineing!!! Thanks for all you do, and being there to talk to. Gary

  5. For the kind of gold you're getting (or lack thereof!), I don't know if hauling buckets of material makes sense. On the other hand, if you want to relax and sit at home slowly panning material...well hell...that is a form of relaxation and fun regardless of outcome. Hang tough! J.R.


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