(Ken Graham with his "Blue Bowl" concentrator.)
Hard on the heels of my previous post I received an e-mail from a small-scale gold miner and small business owner in California named Ken Graham. I found what Ken had to say very interesting as he presents an alternate strategy for dealing with the ever-increasing restrictive regulations thrown at us these days from a mining standpoint. So read on and hear what Ken has to say as well as my take on the subject.
The first order of business I have here is let you read what Ken has to say:
I just returned from Wickenburg, Arizona where I mined, got lots if amazing rock, and removed concentrates. While there, I was approached by several people who, instead of discouraging what I was doing actually encouraged me.
I am a video engineer and film editor and a long-time proponent of the mining rights of citizens. No, I no longer use a Keene 5" suction dredge in the streams of California. Now I use high-end metal detectors (Minelab and Tesoro) for sniping and panning. When I remove concentrates, I bring them back to my garage at my home in Napa and run them through my "Blue Bowl" concentrator. As you know, this unit was invented, designed, and distributed by Frank Sullivan and his daughter Heather Willis of Pioneer Mining Company in Auburn, California.
I will not tolerate aggressive people trying to railroad my hard-working attempts to remove precious metals from the ground. I do so with an educated and proactive approach that leaves those who would intimidate me scratching their heads and leaving with more to think about than when they first approached me. I strongly believe that we can continue to responsibly extract precious metals and do so with an attitude of educated positivity.
I'm Kenneth Graham on Facebook and I also own the TeenyTinyCoffeeCompany (teenytinycoffeeco.com) which has achieved status as a California Green Business. I believe that metal detection technologies, using the "Blue Bowl" for post-mining extraction, and learning about geology and the environment in which we live and work can give the 21st Century prospector an edge over regulations designed to steal away public lands and to destroy the rights of our citizens. By the way, the latter need to be vigorously protected.
There's a lot of truth in Ken's words but what made the light bulb in my brain go from dim to bright was his idea of taking a different tack or approach to small-scale gold mining and prospecting as a means to do an "end around" the BS rules, regs, and restrictions we all have to deal with these days. He's right, you know. The powers-at-be are dead set on taking away the tools of the trade (suction dredges, highbankers, sluices, rockers, etc.) from us but what if we were able to beat them at their own game? I think this is what Ken's alluding to. If the a-holes won't let you mine one way, then by God find another way to get that gold. I know none of this is rocket science but for a old-school traditionalist like myself, this is an epiphany of sorts. You see, just like a lot of other old timers, I tend to stay focused on how it used to be instead of how it is and how it can be. We need a more creative approach to getting the gold and Ken's suggestion is one of those creative ideas. And I'm sure that each and every person reading this has his or her own creative ideas in this regard. The old way of doing things is rapidly fading into the Western sunset and if we don't find alternative approaches and methods as small-scale miners, we'll end up as nothing more than a footnote in some academic's history book. That's it in a nutshell.
(Close up of a piece of Ken's ore. Note the presence of sulfides in it.)
Now granted, you have to have some location or area to work or prospect first and foremost. If we allow all those areas to be taken away from us (including valid claims) then we're simply shit-out-of-luck and it's Annie grab your gun time. But if the bureaucrats and greenies think they can push us off our gold ground by limiting our tools and approaches, or BSing us with horse pucky about high and low water marks they got another thing coming. Moreover, they can shove that right where the sun don't shine.
Here's another thing...if they want to play dirty pool we can too. Here's the way it works with me. The more anyone anywhere tries to force their crap down my throat the more I dig my heels in and the more I fight back. I play the fool for NO ONE and I suspect you're the same way or you wouldn't be reading this. Prospectors and miners are not cowards, weenies, or little puppy dogs wagging their tails as the "master" strides by with another handful of idiotic rules and regulations. We'll fight back. We'll give them a run for their money, no matter how full their pockets are. And I don't give a flying you-know-what who they are or what they have. They can kiss my royal red.
The upshot here is that Ken's words set me to thinking. If they don't want you digging holes then don't dig holes but use another means to locate that gold. If they don't want you using motorized gear then try your hand with electronics. If you can't move tons of dirt then move only quality dirt. If you can't work below the high-water mark then work above it. Getting the picture here? I thought so.
Before I pull the plug on this post I want to put in a couple of plugs. The first is for Ken's TeenyTinyCoffeeCompany. You can learn more about his great coffees by visiting his website (listed in the first part of this post). I'm a coffee fanatic, truth be told. But it has to be quality coffee, not the average swill sold in large plastic canisters at the grocery store. That's my last remaining vice! Also, if you're in the Northern Motherlode Region of California be sure and stop and visit Pioneer Mining in Auburn. They'll appreciate your business and will cut you a fair deal each and every time.
(Brewing up some "TeenyTiny" coffee.)
Think on what we've talked about in this post. Let's hear what you have to say on this issue or what ideas you may have growing in those fertile brains of yours.
We're all in this together, don't ya know?
(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2016
Questions? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org