Making a Living Gold Mining (Yet Again...)
Here we go yet again brothers and sisters. Guess what the most frequent search phrase is coming into "Bedrock Dreams?" If you guessed "making a living gold mining" or "can I make a living at gold mining?" you're the winner of that huge stuffed panda bear you always wanted to win at the carnival ring toss as a kid.
To tell the truth, I've lost count of the number of posts I've written on this topic. I've tried a number of approaches in answering it, including the "good cop, bad cop" routine as well as others. Still, this query rears its questionably ugly head again and again.
Reach for the Gold
I fully understand the interest in this topic..I really do. Times are tough out there, money's tight, and a lot of folks out there are sick and tired of the generic BS associated with most routine jobs in the work-a-day world. That is, those who still have jobs these days.
So I'm empathetic overall. I truly am. I want each and every one of you out there to follow your dreams right on down to bedrock...to make those dreams a reality for yourselves and your families. To aspire and to reach for the gold, however you interpret that.
I've Told You This Before
Still, I owe you absolute honesty in this regard despite whatever it is you WANT to hear. Gold mining on any scale is a very tough gig. On the small-scale level it's essentially nothing but ass-busting effort for extremely small returns occasionally broken by triumphant moments of excellent gold recoveries...something I've reiterated time and time again here.
If I had to give a ballpark figure for the number of individual or small groups of gold miners I've known over the past 33 years there's not a single one who's made (or is making) a living strictly at gold mining. Ive told you this before and it's the God's truth. I suspect overall that less than 5%-10% of those small-scale miners who set out to make a living at gold mining actually do so. So what does that tell you? (I'm speaking directly to those of you out there who type in the "making a living gold mining" search phrase.)
No Matter How You Slice It
What does this tell you? Once again, the folks I'm using as examples are rough and tumble types who have decades of mining knowledge and expertise with all sorts of small-scale mining equipment and who are working their own claims on decent gold ground. They know their shit and have been through the mining mill. Despite all that, they STILL have to depend on other sources of income other than mining to make ends meet or to provide a comfortable life for their families.
I know that many of you are starstruck by all the gold mining reality TV shows you watch each week and all that glittering gold, but those shows ARE NOT about small-scale gold mining...an individual or one or two "pards" going at it. What you're seeing are often lame attempts at commercial gold mining, no matter how you slice or dice it.
TV Wannabes Pulling Paychecks
So if you want to be like Todd and the boys, or the big-time crazy dredgers off the coast of Nome, get your gold stolen in West Africa, or stumble your way through the Bamazon, then go for it...by all means. You have a chance at getting some good gold that way IF you have the financial resources to back your play and, more importantly, the mining knowledge and experience to go along with it. But it won't be as a small-scale miner...and that's the orientation of this blog.
(If you're looking for big paychecks, small-scale gold mining is probably not your best bet.)
"Bedrock Dreams" is about (and for) small-scale gold miners and prospectors, both placer and hard rock...it's not about TV wannabes pulling paychecks from the Discovery Channel while they blow hundreds of thousands of dollars learning the ropes on the job. Unlike most of these reality TV types, we take pride in our traditions, history, and ability to get the gold the way those that came before us did. And those old timers didn't have a TV producer with a fat wallet backing their play.
Go To It
The simple fact is this...the odds of you making a living at small-scale gold mining are slim-to-none, especially here in the Lower 48. It was tough for the old timers back in the day on 100% virgin ground...very few of them ever struck it rich and chances are you won't either. Yes, you can get very good at small-scale mining and boost your income to one degree or another, but that's that. Otherwise, go commercial or get hooked up with a TV reality deal.
I know some of you "newbies" reading this are saying to yourselves, "Well that sucks. He's pretty negative on all this. I'll show him what I can do and prove his skinny old ass wrong." Go to it my friend. Get on it right away and prove me wrong. I have no ego involvement in all this and especially what I'm trying to get across to you. Like I've said before, I WANT to be proven wrong. In fact, I'll be the first to congratulate you.
Your Best Bet
Again, I want you to succeed but I also want you to know the facts. We mine because we love it. If our commitment to small-scale gold mining was based simply on money or the ability to support ourselves doing it, we'd have bailed on the mining game a long time ago.
There's not a single one of us who wouldn't rather be gold mining, no matter where the hell that mining effort takes place. Take that to the bank, my friend. But we aren't about to put the health and welfare of our families at stake to chase a dream where the odds are stacked against us. That would be sheer idiocy on our parts, if not criminal overall.
Your best bet is to take this gold mining thing in stride, learn and grow with it, get good at it, learn to love it as we do, and then if you still want to roll the dice...like the Aussies say, "Good on ya Mate."
I wish you all well.
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "The Truth Hurts...Even in Gold Mining"
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2012
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org