A Short Course on Hard Rock Gold (Part 5)
(Small-scale hard rock miner gathering gold ore.)
As most of you well know, there's no short path to success in gold mining. In hard rock (lode or vein) mining this statement of fact becomes much more pronounced, especially as it relates to mine development.
Where the Problems Begin
You need to understand that mine development is not part of the actual production process, but an important and necessary lead in to producing gold from ore bodies. Without development there is no production, pure and simple.
Once again, I'm speaking to all you small-scale gold miners out there, whether you're mining as an individual, partnered up, or doing your thing as a member of a small but dedicated team. After all that searching and prospecting, all that pain, angst, and hard work, you've finally found that hard rock gold. But that's not where your problems and worries end...that's where they begin.
Greasing the Right Skids
Even on the smallest of scales, developing a hard rock mine is no easy task these days. Right from the get go even if you try and do things the "right" way by dealing with the proper bureaucrats, filing the appropriate forms and paperwork, and even heeding all of the environmental and safety restrictions and guidelines, there are no guarantees. Read my lips...no guarantees.
Here in the United States, federal agencies like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and whatever their clone offshoots are on the state and local levels will conspire to make your life miserable and ensure your hard rock venture remains undeveloped if you fail to cross the right "t's" or forget to dot the necessary "i's." This may be an exaggeration of sorts, but it's not too far fetched when it comes to you, the little guy or gal. Large mining companies or corporations, on the other hand, have enough money and influence to grease the right political skids (and pockets), although they too are suspect in the eyes of Big Brother and the "greenies" these days.
Small-scale hard rock miners elsewhere in the world have an easier time of things in the environmental and safety arenas, but before you go rushing out the door to catch your flight to Quito or Mombasa, remember that corruption and pay offs are the rule of thumb in the 3rd World, not to mention violence, robbery, and murder. If it ain't one thing, it's another...right? Oh, one last thing...God forbid your hard rock discovery happens to be close to or on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land deemed "culturally or historically" significant. To put things bluntly, you'll be shit out of luck brothers and sisters.
Do What Needs Doing
So where does that leave you? Back trying to develop your small-scale hard rock operation in the Lower 48, Canada, Alaska, or the Aussie Outback. Depending on just how small-scale your operation is, you may think it more advantageous to your interests to handle the development end of your mine on the down low. God forbid I suggest you do anything illegal here, but what the hell? If the powers at be want to make things hard on you just for banging away on some quartz ledge with a pick or rock hammer, then I say do what needs doing. Get your gold on the sly if necessary and screw them and their paperwork as long as it doesn't cost you fine money or jail time.
I'll get down to some specific and useful details in my next post. Until then hang tough and don't let the bastards grind you down.
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2013
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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