Gold Sampling: a 3-Phase Plan of Attack (Part 8)

 (Gathering gold samples can be tedious and lonely work.)

I'm finally about to close up this series of posts on gold sampling, so thanks for your patience. I'll be talking about sample gathering, identification, and analysis here, so please read on.

PHASE III: Sample Gathering, Identification, and Analysis

Sample Gathering: I've already introduced you to some of the most common sampling approaches but now I want to focus your attention on actual sample gathering. It should come as no surprise to you that the most accurate gold value data (hard rock or placer) is the result of representative samples taken in a systematic fashion. Generally speaking, the larger the sample run the better (more accurate) your analysis information will be.

Here's a simple example or illustration of what I mean: 

1) Let's say a placer gold miner (Miner A) wants to get an idea of the gold values in a given stretch of accessible bench gravels. Miner A decides to take J.R.'s advice and pull some samples and starts digging into those gravels, eventually pulling a grand total of three samples all from the same hole, one at the surface; one at six inches, and one about eighteen inches down. Miner A dumps all three samples mixed together into a 5-gallon bucket. Flushed with anticipation and excitement, he literally races to the nearest water source to pan those suckers out.

Gold Pans
Gold Concentrators

2) Miner B goes to the same location and finds Miner A chortling happily to himself and busy as a bee setting up his highbanker, all set to run material from the spot where he took his three samples. Miner B moves a respectable distance away and begins to pull her own samples. She takes samples at one spot from the surface and every foot or so after, until she can dig no deeper. Miner B then moves a few feet away and repeats the process again, and again, and again, making sure all the while to separate and identify each sample before she pans it out. It's tedious and somewhat boring work, but Miner B sticks with her program until she's got a good idea where the gold is in those gravels and how much of it she can expect to recover with her own highbanker.

Guess whose data was more accurate here and who'll get the most gold over the long haul (barring freaks of nature or acts of God)? Well, I'd put my money on Miner B, as I'm sure you would too.


Like a few other gold miners I've met over the years I'm not a very patient guy in general. That said, mining has taught me to be patient if I want to get good gold...or any gold at all, for that matter. Patience is a fundamental key to good gold sampling and is every bit as important as being logical and systematic in your sampling efforts.

 (Proper sampling can help you get more gold.)

Over a period of decades I've seen gold miners (again, hard rock and placer) who were fanatic samplers and who understood the importance of gathering as many representative samples of gravel or ore as was humanly possible. Not only this, but these same miners understood that "tainted" samples are about as valuable as a double handful of doggie doo-doo and they made certain each sample they gathered was properly separated and "bagged and tagged."

I'll clue you in to something here. To be a good sampler it doesn't hurt to be a Type "A" personality or a bit obsessive-compulsive. Nor will it harm you if you're laid back and mellow, as long as you're methodical.

Think on that.

If you liked this post, you may want to read: "Gold Sampling: a 3-Phase Plan of Attack (Part 1)"

(c)  Jim Rocha (J.R.)  2013

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. Alright....I'll be the first one to admit it. My first few trips to "placerland" got me so excited I called every pan a "sample"....all the way up the creek!!! At the end of the day......all I remember is was better...somewhere down there right? I can laugh a few "wise" miners put me straight pretty early in my career. I know we are a proud bunch....but humility is a good quality as well. Keep up the good work!!

  2. Humility is indeed a good quality for gold miners. Thanks for your support and for commenting. Best, J.R.


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