The 48 Gold Mining Laws of Power (Conclusion)

Well we've reached another New Year so my best wishes go out to all of you. May 2019 bring all good things your way. Now let's conclude this series of posts.


No matter what you do in this life there will always be someone out there who has mastered the art of the "put down" and for one reason or another will ridicule whatever you choose to do or love to do (or both). As far as this relates to small-scale gold mining they might smirk and ask you if you've struck it rich yet or rag your ass about "harm to the environment." Whatever their approach, people like these are mean-spirited and nasty and they get an ego boost out of demeaning you and what you do. Your task, of course, is to ignore these naysayers and the dark cloud of negativity they drag around with them everywhere they go. Just go on about your business and keep on prospecting or mining or whatever it is that really motivates you. Keep on dreaming and don't let these bitter pills put you down or make you question yourself. Just because they've lost their hopes and dreams doesn't mean you have to follow suit.


Those of you who have been around this gold mining community for a while now have certainly come across other miners or self-proclaimed experts who just can't seem to keep their noses out of your business. It's one thing to offer help and advantageous tips to other miners and it's a totally different thing when someone else comes up to you out in the field and starts flapping their gums about how you're doing things "all wrong." These types then proceed to yadda-yadda-yadda away and love to tell you how every little aspect of what you're doing is wrong and should be done their way instead. Alternately, there are those folks who will do their best to blow all sorts of smoke up your ass about how damn good they are as miners and prospectors. These are what I call the "I've done it all" types (nope, this ain't me because I haven't done it all...yet, anyway!). Sometimes these clowns are dream merchants and sometimes they're just royal ass pains. Your job in this context? Call BS on them right then and there. Choke them off and inform them in no uncertain terms that you don't need their "help," tall tales, or whatever else they're hustling. Be diplomatic if you can...if you can't, do what you gotta do. Never play the fool or patsy to these types.


Any of you who aren't total greenhorns or newbies know this to be true. And if someone offers you a mining "free lunch" you better perk your ears up and get your BS detector working. Simply put, gold mining is hard work and gold doesn't just hop into your vial or poke magically. You're going to have to bust your buns and hump it to get that yellow. It doesn't matter how you're going at it either. Sniping, dry washing, dredging, sluicing, panning, or any other aspect of small-scale mining is WORK. Mostly hard work, to boot. So if you come into this thing of ours expecting a free lunch like one of those couch potatoes who dreams large but never seems to exert any greater effort than popping the cap off another bottle of beer, then gold mining is not for you. The simple but elegant truth brothers and sisters...


You always have a choice in terms of how you approach your gold mining and prospecting activities. You can be a "Debbie Downer" who pisses and moans all the time or you can be upbeat, confident, and positive. It's this latter qualifier that should guide you at all times in all situations. Be a positive influence to yourself and others. Take the disappointments and frustrations in stride because gold mining is full of those things. Negativity solves nothing nor adds anything to what you do. It's wasted energy. Bask in the light of positivity and shine that mining headlamp on others.


Ah yes, the old adage applies here: "Keep it simple stupid!" The more you can simplify and streamline your mining approach and the work involved with it, the more successful you'll be at recovering that yellow. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with high-falutin' ideas or gear but if they get you caught up in greater and greater complexity in your mining activities it's time to get back to basics. More is not always better. Learn to edit and distill things out in the field. You'll do much better in the long run.


I'm pretty much a hard-core type when I'm doing my prospecting, mining, or treasure hunting thing. I try my best to leave no stone unturned (i.e., not take the easy way out) when I'm out in the field. As time goes by, one thing you'll learn in this mining gig (if you haven't learned it already) is that most people tend to get lazy out there. If they see a potentially good spot that's overgrown with brush they'll pass it by because of the extra work involved in clearing it. Or, they'll forego a section of wash or stream because getting at bedrock will mean extra effort they're not willing to expend. Granted, there's a fine line here between what's reasonable effort for uncertain returns and doing the hard work anyway so you'll know for certain. I say opt for the latter, not the former. You see, "goodies" are often found in those hard-to-get-at places simply because they've been left alone or bypassed because some other miner or treasure hunter decided he or she didn't want to work that hard. That can open "doors" for you.


Most of the time we small-scale mining types tend to hang onto the gold we've recovered. I know folks who put their placer in separate vials and they can tell you exactly where each vial's gold came from and under what conditions. That's a neat thing and it shows a certain non-monetary valuing of gold based on good times, hard work, and shared or remembered experiences. However, if you decide to sell your gold for any reason be damn sure you know what it's worth and what a fair price for it is. If you're new to small-scale mining and don't know how to do this then I suggest you learn and learn quickly. And remember that any gold you recover is not "pure" or .999 fine. It's always alloyed with other precious or base metals. That's a starter tip for you greenhorns. Now it's up to you figure out the rest. Bottom line? Know what your gold is worth or don't sell it. Simple as apple pie.


You old timers (like me!) and journeymen miners out there understand that it's not so much the getting of the gold that drives us. It's the looking for it. If gold was easy to find it wouldn't have much value monetarily and it probably wouldn't be much fun getting out there after it. Again I refer you to old timers like Shorty Harris as a reference point. All of us except the greenest newb know that we aren't gonna strike it rich as a small-scale gold miner. And even the greenest greenhorn gets disabused of this fantasy fairly quickly once they've spent some quality time gold prospecting and mining. You either love gold mining and prospecting or ya don't. And the central core of that love is the looking for it. Sure, we all love to see good yellow in our pan or concentrates but that's not the sum total of why we do what we do. If you can't get excited and sustained by the search for gold, then you might as well pack 'er in pard.


As a follow-up to the previous law, remember that you're status as a small-scale gold miner includes being a living piece of history. Everything you do out there in your search for and recovery of gold has its historical antecedents. The techniques, the approaches, and even most of the mining gear you use could be placed behind glass in some future mining museum. You are carrying forward traditions and techniques that go way back...some even before written history. How remarkable is that?! So take pride in this fact and continue to pass on our small-scale mining traditions to the newer generations coming up, even if they bitch and gripe about not having an X-Box controller or their cell phone in their hands. A day in the mountains or the desert will do them good and who knows? Once they spot their first speck of yellow in a pan maybe they'll be bitten by the gold bug too.


Even in toady's world of contracts and agreements that go on for page after page in legalese that only lawyers and politicians understand, most small-scale gold miners still believe in someone's word or their handshake. Yep, this can be risky business...I know. So in those situations or contexts where other miners (or even your pards) have agreed to something via their word or on a handshake, make sure you hold their feet to the fire on those non-verbal contracts. For example, if your pard says he'll foot half the bill for a weekend trip, hold him to that. In fact, hold anyone and everyone to their word. And if they don't keep their word or their agreements then let them know exactly what you think of them and walk away never to "pinky swear" again with just such a person. Remember, if we're talking about claims, property, or real gold in the hand ALWAYS get a written contract or agreement. But when someone tells you they're gonna do something or share the load, make damn sure they do. Otherwise, go it alone like I do.


A serious example of what I'm talking about here in the mining realm can be found in my series of posts on the "Shootout at Chariot Canyon." If you haven't read that series of posts yet then I recommend you do so now. Mining disputes and disagreements happen...even over the smallest of issues. I'm not going to suggest you have to always turn the other cheek when these situations arise, but in reality that's an excellent approach. So is simply walking away. The only time to get physical with someone is if they leave you NO OTHER CHOICE. Then you gottra do what you gotta do. But deliberately stepping into deep doo-doo over an argument out in the field, a claim issue, or anything else (road rage shit, someone fronting you off, etc.) is not going to end well. And you may end up the big loser in a deal like this because even though you might be sane, the other guy may be stone crazy. Walk softly if you never know what's going on in someone else's mind or what type of stress they're under.


When it comes to all things gold mining be self-reliant and learn to get things done on your own...pard or no pard. Small-scale mining is, at its heart, an individual pursuit despite those times when a team effort is in play. You need to know what you're doing as a prospector and miner without someone leaning over your shoulder and always pointing the way forward. I'm not saying instruction, assistance, and someone else's experience isn't valuable. Those things are very valuable and so is a good mentor or pard. But you need to be able to go it alone in mining. If you can't rely on your own knowledge, experience, and capabilities as a bottom line then, my friend, you're not going to do well in the long run. You have to be able to do as much as possible out there, including fixing your own equipment or gear. No AAA truck is going to come to your rescue, figuratively speaking. So practice self-reliance at all times.


I have mixed feelings about gold prospecting or mining clubs for reasons that are mine and mine alone. One reason I'll mention is the simple fact I don't like groups or crowds when it comes to my gold mining activities. That said, don't let my perspective on clubs taint your own views toward them. There are some excellent clubs out there that contain good folks...some with a high level of mining skill and experience that can teach a greenhorn or newbie quite a bit about the basics in all respects, including operating various types of mining gear and equipment such as motorized recovery units of all types. For a greenhorn the knowledge that can be obtained in a club is priceless over the long haul. An additional plus to joining a club is the mutual association and camaraderie that can be gained by interacting with groups of folks who have the same love of all things gold mining. So if you're just starting out as a small-scale guy or gal a good mining or prospecting club may be just what the doctor ordered.


No matter how experienced or inexperienced you may be or how much gold you've recovered or failed to recover over time, it's all good. And I mean ALL. Every moment you spend out there panning, sluicing, or dry washing (among other things) should be a joy despite the frustrations, equipment breakdowns, or even the lack of gold on any given foray. So make things count when you're laboring under Ma Nature's beauty and her bounty. Time flies, as they say. I've been at it for 40 years now and it's hard to wrap my head around this passage of time and all those months and years spent out in the field. There's not a moment I spent out there detecting, panning, prospecting, dredging, highbanking, sniping, dry washing, or sluicing that I regret. It's been a good run overall despite the fact mining never made me a rich man! So enjoy yourself out there and savor every moment. Like they say, "Take time to smell the roses." Our lives are fragile things and time waits for no one. Make it count.

(c) Jim Rocha 2019

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. i am sure you know this .... Greene references the Japanese Tea Ceremony
    = any comments on this - as far as gold mining is concerned

    1. I'll have to think on that one Grandpa...

  2. Happy New Year JR!
    In this area, I have found gold with a pinkish tint to it, copper I think. And gold colored gold out of the same hole. (Placer gold) Do you think it would be from the same vein or some place else? I wonder how you would figure price on something like that?
    The "Living history "part is one of the reasons I wanted to do this. Anything Old West has always fascinated me. Uncle Fred told me once "The Old West is dead and gone. You can't live there." Working ranch and cowboy jobs, prospecting, and all the other things I love to do kind of proved him wrong! The Old West is alive and well, you just have to look a little harder now. Our prospecting gear probably will be in a museum someday once it's banned and illegal to do it anymore. Hopefully if that happens, it will be long after we are gone.

    1. Happy New Year Gary! You are correct...a pinkish tint in your placer gold means more copper alloy. I think that gold would come from two different vein sources, but can't say for sure. An educated guess on my part. I know I'm getting old enough to be a museum piece myself!

  3. another note & query …. Greene also references two different translations of the book: THE ART OF WAR ….
    any comments ….

    1. The Tea Ceremony is an important ritual in Japanese culture. I know...I'm married to a Japanese woman. The main idea is balance...tranquility...everything must be ordered...that is what I assume the reference is far as mining is concerned it's along shot but I think being "one" with nature...remaining ordered and tranquil in your work despite frustrations or setbacks...I dunno. Best i can do. The art of war is all about strategies for retaining your personal power and overcoming the enemy by making him fight on your terms...not his.

    2. The Chinese also have a tea ceremony at weddings. I don't know if it's green tea or not...….if that helps?


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