Gold Sampling: a 3-Phase Plan of Attack (Part3)
(Hand-dug sample trench. Notice the sample bags in the background.)
Most mining experts agree that each phase of sampling is equally important. I fully understand their perspective, but I beg to disagree a bit. We'll get to why shortly.
PHASE II: SAMPLING
Beating Me to the Punch
In the meantime, some of you have been beating me to the punch here via e-mail and end-of-post comments with questions like, "How do I go about sampling?," "How deep am I supposed to dig?," "What do I use to sample with?," and "How many samples am I supposed to take?"
These are all very fine questions and I heartily commend you for asking them. That said, here's the generic answer to these questions:
In other words, there's NO "one-size-fits-all" approach when it comes to performing actual gold sampling due to the variables involved.This may sound like somewhat of a cop out, but please believe me when I say it isn't.
What sort of variables? Well, things like:
- What sort of mining operations are intended (hard rock/lode? placer? large-scale, commercial, individual?).
- Available resources (time, money, equipment, personnel).
- Information sought (values per cubic yard or ton, overall mineralization, economic feasibility, and so on).
Most Important Phase
This is why I believe the actual sampling performed is the single-most important phase in the gold sampling process. (Again, this is only my opinion and not holy words from on high etched in stone.)
Anyway, how you sample is dependent in large part on what you're looking to get out of it. If you're an individual miner just trying to get a line of what sort of gold values you can expect along a 100-yard stretch of stream then your approach (and corresponding gear) is going to be vastly different than that of a full-bore commercial operation looking for a bottom line.
(Core samples like these are typical of commercial or large-scale sampling operations.)
For example as an individual miner you can probably get your sampling needs completed with a few test holes processed with a gold pan, a sluice box, or even a suction dredge. A commercial operation, on the other hand, is probably going to need a series of drill holes or sequenced test pits/trenches. A hard-rock mining operation may require the blasting of numerous rock-wall faces and gathering samples from both vein material as well as adjacent country rock (we'll talk about why later).
No "Magic" Formula
Once again, there are a range of variables that have to be considered when it comes to gold sampling (or mineral/metal sampling in general). My advice? Start thinking outside the box when it comes to sampling. Most importantly, STOP believing there's some sort of tried and true A-B-C formula to sampling that can be applied across the board in any and all contexts. Why? Because there isn't any.
Are there specific approaches, processes, and parameters that can be applied in gold sampling? Sure there are and I plan on discussing a few of those with you in the next post.
Until then, best of luck and stay safe.
If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Gold Deposition in Dry Placers (Part 1)"
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2013
Questions? E-mail me at email@example.com