Rethinking Black Sand Concentrates (Part 1)
(Once visible gold is removed from the black sands, the real work begins.)
Black sand concentrates have always been problematic for small-scale miners. Sure, you can pluck the nuggets, "chunkers," and flakes out quite easily but when it comes to those micro-fines mixed in with your black sands, gold recovery can become...well...a genuine pain in the ass.
Personally speaking, the only times I ever get even mildly obsessive about fine gold recovery from black sands is when I'm running lots of material dredging, highbanking, sluicing, or dry washing. I never much worry about it when I'm crevicing or sniping simply because there's just not enough material recovered or processed in the latter two endeavors to warrant that level of effort in my mind.
I may have to rethink my views about black sands though. Recently I stumbled across some very interesting info concerning the gold content of most black sands. It seems that extensive testing on the part of expert mining consultants has revealed that most black sand concentrates can contain as much as 20% of the total free gold already recovered in previous processing operations.
Well slap me silly brothers and sisters! I always knew those black sand concentrates contained gold, but up to TWENTY PERCENT of the gold recovered from any given mining operation or approach?
A Miner's Curse?
Let's do a bit of ciphering here...if you cleaned up $800.00 in free gold from your small-scale mining efforts then by gosh and by golly there's almost as much as another two hundred bucks sitting there in that 5-gallon bucket where you stashed your black sand concentrates. Makes you think doesn't it?
There's little doubt that black sand concentrates are hard to process efficiently and effectively, but it can be done with the right gear and a whole lot of time and patience. You know, I've always viewed black sands as a sort of miner's curse and Ma Nature's way of getting a tiny bit of payback for all the yellow metal you've conned her out of. But even here the Grand Old Lady is providing you with another chance to wrest her treasures from her. Go figure.
(Mother Nature keeps her secrets close by.)
I think we need to delve into this black sand issue a bit deeper. In my next post I'll be passing along some detailed info on the subject, so don't run off. I guarantee you'll learn something new.
Until then, be safe out there.
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Three General Rules of Coarse Gold Deposition"
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2013
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