(Yesterday's take for Eduardo, 61.7 grams including a one-ounce nugget.)
Dominican dredger and small-scale gold miner Eduardo Herbert is at it again. What you see in the photo above is yesterday's take from the gold-bearing stream Eduardo is working in the Sierras of the Dominican Republic (D.R.). I don't know about you, but I'm ready to fly to the D.R. and hook up with Eduardo anytime!
Enough to Get Excited About?
Eduardo has mentioned more than once that the gold he's recovering from his dredging operation is large and fairly coarse. He's not coming up with much in the way of fine gold where he's working. This is polar opposite to what most small-scale gold miners experience here in the United States from their dredging, highbanking, dry washing, and sluicing activities. Can I get a resounding "Amen!" to that brothers and sisters? Now this is not to say that good pockets and paystreaks of placer gold don't exist in the continental U.S., because they do...and some contain larger and coarser gold than usually expected. That said, however, I don't think I've seen such consistent amounts of large gold recovered from any small-scale dredging operation as I've seen Eduardo getting there in the D.R. I dredged and highbanked in Northern California for most of the 1980s and had my days (along with my pards) but this Dominican placer gold is nothing short of astonishing in terms of its quantity, coarseness, and overall weight.
(Eduardo's "big 'un" from yesterday.)
On second thought, I don't know if coarse is the right term to use for Eduardo's gold. If you examine his photos closely you'll see a lot of smoothness from stream "rounding" in the larger nuggets (and some of the smaller ones too). Then again, if you look closely at the nuggets on the scale in the photo at the beginning of this post you'll also see that some of the larger pieces of placer are quite coarse. What this tells me overall is that at some of the placer gold Eduardo is recovering hasn't traveled all that far from it's source. You don't get big gold or coarse gold like that far, far away from a lode or vein. A visual clue that supports my theory is that the large nugget Eduardo recovered yesterday (see "big 'un" photo above) still has quite a bit of quartz matrix material running through it. Anyhoo, I guess it really doesn't matter what term(s) you use to describe this D.R. Sierra placer gold...it's big and it's pretty and Eduardo is pulling, on average, about two troy ounces a day. That's enough for any small-scale miner to get excited about. I know I'd be happier than a pig in poop to be getting that sort of gold on a daily basis, that's for sure.
Since the area Eduardo is working contains so many nuggets and larger placer gold pieces, I just asked him this morning if he's ever thought about doing some electronic prospecting or nugget shooting in and around his location (I'll let you know his response when he gets back to me). I honestly think nugget shooting could be a very good supplement to his dredging activities both above and below the waterline with the right machine. In combination with his underwater dredging, a good fully submersible metal detector could help him pinpoint larger nuggets and pockets without the need for dredge sample holes. Above the waterline and away from the stream's edge, Eduardo might also be able to find nuggets or even a larger mass of gold just hidden below the surface using a good gold machine like some of the Minelabs or even a Gold Bug 2 or Gold Bug "Pro." In a place like the D.R. Sierras I think anything's possible in that regard. Additionally, I doubt that Eduardo's immediate area is littered with tons of metallic trash since he's already said that few people get to that area. This is the sort of situation that a nugget shooter's dreams are made of!
Questions and Answers
I know I'm digressing again here, but it's for good cause. "Muskrat" commented in my previous post with a few questions about the general situation for small-scale miners down there in the D.R. So I asked Eduardo a series of questions based on "Muskrat's" prompt and here are his responses:
1) What's the government like there in the Dominican Republic? Do they allow you to mine for gold without many restrictions? Or do you have to pay mordida? (Note: Mordida is Spanish for the bite, or being bitten. It's a common expression in most, if not all, Spanish-speaking countries for corruption and the act of paying off officials.)
"Our government is democratic, majoring in corruption! Very corrupt. They let you mine officially, but we had people from the Department of Mining running around confiscating all the dredges at one point in time. There are no real mining or dredging restrictions so far though."
2) Do you need a dredge or mining permit to do what you're doing?
"In relation to the dredge confiscation issue we eventually came to an 'agreement' to pay fees to the government for mining/dredging permits that we need to renew each year."
3) You said if you left your location someone else might take your spot. Does this mean you guys don't have mining claims there that you can file paperwork on and mine without others "jumping" your claim like here in the U.S.?
"There are no mining claims here...if you leave your hole somebody else could grab it."
4) Do you have to sell your gold to the government or can you sell it to anyone?
"You can sell your gold to anyone you wish. There are about 140 small-scale gold miners here in the Dominican Republic and they sell their gold mainly to people who own joyerias, or jewelry stores."
5) Is it dangerous there in terms of crime like thieves, robbers, etc.? Also, do you have wild animals, snakes, etc. to contend with?
"There is crime everywhere. But in the mountains it's not a problem. People (other miners) mind their own business. We have no wild animals to contend with...only politicians! And they are as wild as it can get. There are no vipers or other bad snakes here just a few spiders who are quite shy."
Here's what else Eduardo had to say:
"I went to the river to get the big six-inch dredge out because it's supposed to rain all week. They predicted an 80% chance of rain today so I wasn't thinking i was going to work. But the day was warm and sunny...not a cloud in the sky. I started dredging around 9:30 after a quick breakfast and worked until 3:30 that afternoon and guess what? Yes! I found another large nugget...close to an ounce. I found some smaller nuggets as well and will send you photos tonight."
(The D.R. Sierras.)
I tell you what...you gotta love Eduardo's ability to get the gold. I'm also partial to his view of politicians! I guess those liars, thieves, and con artists are the same no matter where in this world you go.
Best to all.
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2015
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org