Mining Tips From an Old Timer (Part 2)

 (Old timers checking for color.)

In this post I'll be getting to the heart of the matter for this series which, once again, is meant as a sort of mini-manual or guide for small-scale gold miners and prospectors. It doesn't matter what level of knowledge or expertise you currently have (or don't have)...there's bound to be something of value to you in this series of posts since I'm passing along 35+ years of accumulated knowledge and experience. Where else could you get that for free?

1. Make sure you know what you're getting into.

This tip is targeted primarily toward novices (greenhorns, newbies, etc.) to small-scale gold mining and prospecting. At any and all levels, gold mining and prospecting IS NOT some easy road to riches or get-rich-quick scheme and I don't give a big rat's butt what you've been told by T.V. show huscksters or the hordes of dream merchants out there looking to sell you metal detectors or expensive mining gear. Small-scale gold mining (and its symbiotic partner, prospecting) is essentially very hard work for returns that are all too often inconsistent or quite small when compared to the effort it takes to get even the tiniest amounts of gold out of the ground. That's it in a nutshell. You have to love what you do when it comes to prospecting and mining, and having a bit of color running through your veins doesn't hurt. However, if you come to this mining thing with a quick-fix attitude, unwilling spirit, and a lazy ass I'm telling you right here and now you're wasting your time. And ours...

 (Gold mining is hard and dirty work no matter where you are.)

2. Do your homework.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. And again. And one last time. DO YOUR HOMEWORK on the front-end of your prospecting and mining efforts. Want to find gold? Start researching those areas nearest you that either produced gold or that possess geological characteristics conducive to mineralization and gold formation. Want to find nuggets or lots of gold? The get off your bum and start researching the gold districts or locations known for nugget production or for producing copious amounts of gold. Learn anything and everything you can about the area you want to visit, work, or file a claim on. Read old geological bulletins, mining company production reports, historical narratives, and the diaries or testaments of the old timers who once worked the area you're leaning toward. I can't tell you how many times I've uncovered veritable gems of information in this manner. Gems that led me to good gold or more gold. With the availability of the internet, Google Earth, online books, etc., etc., there is NO excuse in the world for you not to get a head start on your mining activities through diligent and thorough research. So do it. After all, "Knowledge is power."

 (Old diaries and personal narratives can contain valuable information and leads.)

3. Stick to the basics.

There's absolutely no need for you to try and emulate Todd and the boys in the Yukon or some of those questionable sanity underwater dredgers or excavator barge operators up in Nome. In other words, you don't have to lay out bucketfuls of money or put your rear end on the line to get started in gold prospecting and mining unless you want to go the commercial route, and if that was the case you probably wouldn't care about some rinky-dink website targeting small-scale miners like Bedrock Dreams. There are only so many ways you can recover gold and they're nearly all based on the yellow metal's density and the fact it's nearly 20 times heavier than water. That's called concentration, by the way. As most of you already know, every piece of "modern" mining gear is just an updated or motorized version of the original equipment employed by small-scale gold miners hundreds of years ago. Your approach to prospecting and mining in both wet and dry placer areas should follow suit. Stick to the basics, those tried and true methods and techniques for getting the gold. They'll never leave you empty handed.

(Stick to the basics, especially early in your mining career.)

4. Get the best gear you can within your personal budget.

Let me preface this tip with the following admonition. If you're new to small-scale gold prospecting and mining it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever to lay down thousands of dollars for all sorts of fancy gear, including motorized equipment. If you're a newbie or greenhorn, that is money wasted...pure and simple. Until you get up to speed and get some experience and knowledge under your belt, stick to the simple items that can help you get a bit of color. After all, that's what you're after initially, right? A gold pan, a classifier, some basic digging and crevicing tools, a five-gallon bucket or two, a small portable sluice (optional), and lots of enthusiasm are all you'll need. Trying to run expensive gear when essentially (and forgive me here) you don't know your ass from a hole in the ground with regard to gold mining is just plain idiotic. For you guys and gals that have been around the mining block a while now, having the best gear and equipment you can afford makes sense. NEVER go the cheapish route and buy questionable gear from manufacturers who haven't proven themselves over time and DON'T get sucked in by outlandish claims about certain machines being able to sniff gold out from 30 miles away. There's a sucker born every minute and you don't want that tag applied to you. Now you old timers and experienced miners know the score already. You want gear that's not going to throw fits out in the field or require constant adjustments or repairs. So get the best gear and equipment you can afford, with the emphasis on the affordability.

(A precious metals remote sensing detector...really? Don't be a sucker and lay out good money for questionable "gear" like this.)

There's more to come.

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2015

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