Researching Online Mining Systems (Part 1)

 (USGS Mineral Resources System interactive map.)

Jeff M., a rock-steady gold miner and reader/contributor to Bedrock Dreams has asked that I address some aspects of mine research, especially using the United States Geological Reports (USGS) System online. Thorough research can be a great asset to your mining activities so let's move forward on this issue.

When I first began my small-scale gold mining activities over 36 years ago, there was no Internet and no such thing as desktop computers, laptops, smart phones, or digital "tablets." When you wanted to conduct research you did it the old-fashioned way by spending countless hours poring over library stacks or purchasing old USGS bulletins. Throw in a few odds and ends books, pamphlets, and historical production reports and you were on your way more or less. Research was (and still is to some degree) laborious and time consuming. But do it right, get the salient information you need, and use that info properly, and guess what? The pay off can be well worth the hassle and time. So here are a few lessons for you regarding current mine information research:

Lesson 1: Everything is Out of Date

I don't care what you're looking at or what little "gem" you think you've turned up in your research. By the time you're looking at it it's out of date. Sometimes that update lag can be as short as a few weeks, a couple of months, or even multiple years. This is especially true with government publications or systems like the USGS, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), or the United States Forest Service (USFS). Now before you start nodding your head in assent that all these bureaucratic systems are complete crap and staffed by idiots, simpletons, and full-on lazy asses take note here. My experiences with these agencies and with others like the Veterans Administration have been, for the most part, quite positive overall. Sure, there are inept a-holes and by-the-book clones in every bureaucracy but there are far more hard-working, caring, and helpful people in these agencies than you might think. The problem is that they're laboring beneath the umbrella of a lumbering, often inefficient system that restricts them as much as it restricts you. After all, the self-serving, doltish politicos in Washington, D.C. are the ones who form and direct these agencies so what do you expect? Here's a tip for you. Try showing a bit of human understanding and be polite with these folks and quite a few doors will open for you. Hell, what's the old saying? "You'll catch more flies with sugar than with vinegar." But what's the end point here? The info you're looking for is always going to be out of date. Remember that and factor it into your research activities.

Lesson 2: Using the USGS Mineral Resources Data System:

This is your first research step so pay attention please because I'm listing step-by-step instructions here:

1. Go to the site (
2. Choose the state you're interested in.
3. Select "gold" from the list of commodities.
4. Click the search button.

Once you perform these simple steps a list of gold mines will magically appear. When it does pay particular attention to the little selection box that appears titled "Choose Format."

5. Press the down arrow and choose "Google Earth" from the list that's there.
6. Click the "Get Data" button.

A brand-new screen will appear that gives you two choices. The first will be something called a KML File. The second will be a KMZ file. If I'm searching for New Mexico gold mines the file format for the KML will read something like mrds-New Mexico-Gold-(a two digit number like 20) followed by .kml. Same thing for the KMZ file only the the ending will a two-digit number followed by a .kmz.

 (Examples of .kmz and .kml file visual representations.)

I recommend you use the KMZ files for your research since they're compressed and a lot smaller than the KML files. Next, save the KMZ file you want to your computer (PC, laptop, etc.). Any KMZ or KLM file you save with the extension mrds-(state you're interested in)-Gold-20-.kml will  pull up on Google Earth once you click the file.

This is a bit more complicated and you have to be reasonably versed in tech stuff, but you can download these same files in a .csv format and use one of many scripting languages to create specific files for your GPS. Then you can store boo-coo GPS way points on your GPS.

We'll talk more about all this research stuff in my next post. Until then be safe and remember to care for those who care for you.

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2016

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. Jim,
    This is EXTREMELY helpful. I can not begin to express my gratitude. I'll do this as soon as I get off work today. You are an invaluable source of information and a hell of a gentleman to boot. I never thought of the forestry service. I'm always learning here, that means you're successful at what you do. I hope others appreciate it as much as I do. Time is a valuable commodity and you saved me a considerable amount. Thank you Jim!

    Regards Jeff

  2. Just another quick comment. You are correct about the people at some of the government agencies. I had to deal with BLM this week and the lady there went out of her way to help me.

  3. Hey, I don't understand all of this "computer Chinese" but I was able to figure out some of it. There are several near me I did not know about. I've been so dang busy this summer I haven't made it out yet.....hope that changes soon! A friend of mine and local rancher asked me if I wanted to be "water master" on the creek he lives on. Basically,I'm a referee over squables between ranchers about irrigation water. It pays pretty good for this area, so I said yes.....WHAT A MISTAKE! Now I'm the official punching bag for all these ranchers as well as running the Fairgrounds. Worst part is, I didn't know the true employer was the Department of Water Resources!! I joined the enemy without even realizing it!!! I feel like I was tricked into this. At very least, I was mislead about what the job was and who I was working for. I told Jack I would do this, and I will keep my word, but I doubt I will do it next year.I'll have to see just how much money it adds up to at the end of the summer. I don't think it will be near enough.....
    Anyway,thank you for pointing out these places, now I have some new ground to try....provided of course I don't see any claim notices, and I don't get hit over the head with a shovel! Gary

    1. I always learn the hard way Gary, so you're in good company!


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