Saturday, December 22, 2012

Termites Help Aussie "Fossickers" Find Gold

(Australian termite mound or "nest.")

When I first started my small-scale gold mining career over three decades ago, I remember being told by old timers (and reading in prospecting books of the day) that you should always check large ant hills or animal burrows for traces of color. Although there's certainly some logic to this premise, I never thought much of this approach and pretty much dismissed it from my mind. Maybe I shouldn't have been so hasty...

Here's the reason: termites are unearthing small particles of gold in the "Land Down Under," according to Aussie geologists and entomologists. Samples taken from material excavated by these little critters in their mounds or nests are pointing to the possibility of new gold deposits, particularly in locations in the Western Australia goldfields.

Miniature Gold Prospectors

One especially promising site is the Moolart Well gold deposit. Although a highly mineralized area, Moolart Well has always been a tough gold nut to crack for the Diggers...even after a century and a half of "fossicking" and mining efforts. It should come as no surprise to any experienced gold prospector or miner that overburden has been the key thorn in everyone's side.

Wolverine Boots
Dickies Work Clothes

Successive layers of overburden at Moolart Well have have made things difficult because the gold in the area eroded out millenia ago and then was covered up by semi-sterile layers of overburden...sometimes at depth. Now it seems termites are acting as miniature gold prospectors as they burrow down into the earth anywhere from three to thirteen feet.

Don't Expect to Find Nuggets

Material samples taken in the Moolart Well region from twenty-two termite mounds and the adjoining terrain are showing high concentrations of gold, with the mounds themselves holding color at a level as much as fifteen-to-sixteen times that of the soils and gravels sampled ten-to-twenty feet away from the mounds themselves. The reason for this showing of color is apparent...as the little buggers burrow and tunnel their way down, the small bits of material they excavate is piled high at the surface, including tiny grains of gold.

 (Gold like this has been recovered from the Moolart Well region in the past.)

"The true amount of gold found in the nests is actually very low," says Aussie scientist Aaron Stewart. "It gives us the indication of a hidden deposit, but you can't see the gold and wouldn't be able to extract anything meaningful from the nests." In other words brothers and sisters, don't expect to find large flakes, nuggets, or multi-troy ounce pockets from termite mounds in Australia (or anywhere else for that matter).

An Intriguing Idea

Still, having termites (or ants or other burrowing critters?) doing some of your sampling work for you is an intriguing idea...even for an old hard case like myself. Maybe I should have given the old timers who schooled me up way back when a bit more credit. You never know, do you?

Best of luck to you and a hearty "G'day" to all my Aussie mining friends.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Australia's Koonenberry Gold Belt"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2012

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

10 comments:

  1. Hi Jr I remember when I was a youngster living in Colorado we would check out the ant hills the ones with the big red ants and find Indian Beads, at that time the only gold I know about was the big huge shinny Gold nuggets that I would find a long the railroad tracks. I had enough gold that I could retire at 10 years old until some old timer had to bust my bubble and tell it was pyrite. Take care my Friend.

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  2. Well I'm learning new things today. I guess all these burrowing critters bring stuff up with the material they excavate. Interesting...You guys take care up there in the Siskiyous Ron!

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  3. Good Morning Jim, I recall reading awile back that one of the most famouse mines in the United States was found by panning out "tailings" from a gofer or badger hill. I think it was the comstock mine if I remember right. It couldn't hurt to try it now and then. Gary

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    1. I apologize Gary...missed this comment before. I think I might have read something along those lines myself too...Best! J.R.

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  4. Jim, After writeing this last bit, I tryed to find where I read it with no luck. Maybe it's not true, I don't know,where ever I read it, it stuck in this little pea brain I've got anyway! I have tryed ant hills a few times, but haven't found anything. They make good dirt for covering traps though!

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  5. Gary, had a guy tell me via e-mail that the Aussies have been checking out termite mounds for a while now...it's an old trick that evidently has been in use for a while now. Best, J.R.

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  6. Hello Jim, What is posted is the second thing I sent, I don't think the first went through. I have no dought this works. What I wrote is that I read someplace that one of the most famouse mines in the United States was found by panning Gopher hill or badger "tailings".(I think it was the Comstock Silver Mine) Then I wrote back and said I couldn't find where I read it and I'm not sure if it's true or not. Sorry for the mix up!! Gary

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  7. No problem Gary. Have a great Christmas! J.R.

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  8. Hey! Forgot to say MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

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