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Last night I read a very interesting (IMO) article by Chris Ralph in the June, 2019 issue of the ICMJ (https://www.icmj.com/) titled "How Long Does It Take to Find and Recover an Ounce of Gold".  There are a lot of caveats Chris lists, which makes it dangerous for me to summarize what was written.  Further, there is a fine line between showing results from a magazine/journal which needs money to stay afloat and requiring interested parties to simply pay for a subscription.  IMO, anyone halfway serious about searching for native gold (and there's more there than just gold) should be a subscriber.  Most importantly, his estimates certainly depend upon the ground you are covering -- this should be obvious to everyone and I hope simply mentioning it will squelch any attempt to quibble at his results. Basically there is a lot of uncertainty around Chris's numbers, which he is well aware of, but it's still interesting to hear from an expert who has used all of these methods countless times.  I was surprised at some of his estimates.  In order longest (least efficient) to shortest:

Panning:  42 hrs,

Metal Detecting:  40 hrs,

Sluicing/Highbanking:  30 hrs,

Dry Washing:  30 hrs,

Dredging:  20 hrs,

Hard Rock Mining:  8 hrs.

I think it's worth emphasizing that this is a time efficiency, not a cost efficiency.  Panning is clearly the least expensive with hard rock mining by far the most.  Chris also points out that the leadup time/research/preparation & cost are vastly different -- hard rock mining being the obvious extreme.

 

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Certainly got me thinking GB about how many hours I put into a detector to get an ounce of gold.  I don't keep track of my time to get an ounce, but I do know the other methods are foreign language to this kid.  Only way I have hunted gold is with a detector.  

To me, the location and skill level on detector you own is vital.  Then, making sure you have the right detector for the kind of gold you plan on pursuing, which is part of skill level.

I do remember my last hunt for 2019 at Rye Patch with a GPZ-7000 netted me just over an ounce of nuggets, 34.7 grams.  That was accomplished in 5 days, so I think his 40 hr average was really close.

Then, the last gold hunt of 2018 was Thanksgiving Weekend and I used the Equinox-800 with the 15" coil.  This was a 2 day hunt and the 1st day, 1st hour I scored a 2.67 ozt specimen.  I ended up with 5 pieces in those two days with approx. 4 ounces of specimens and 2 of that was gold.

Not tooting my horn, but I feel I know gold detectors better than most so my hours are probably less to get the 1 ounce.

What I can't understand, is it takes 42 hours to pan an ounce of gold.  Heck, I don't know anyone who has found an ounce of gold with a pan, but I don't hang around those kind of people.  Surely there are folks who can do it or he would not have come up with the averages.

Realize, I do not detect for a living, but do it because I enjoy a challenge.  I feel nugget hunting is harder than Coin/Relic and Jewelry, so that is why  I like it so much.  

 

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I think the times quoted are for when you are on the gold.

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9 hours ago, Gerry in Idaho said:

What I can't understand, is it takes 42 hours to pan an ounce of gold.

 

4 hours ago, geof_junk said:

I think the times quoted are for when you are on the gold.

Quoting Chris from the article:

When I am sniping along a stream, I am normally spending a lot more time digging out a crevice than performing the actual panning stage of operation.  I've dug out large crevices that repeatedly yielded one to two pennyweight per panful, but that is not normal.  So digging and cleaning out a small but good crevice and panning the material might take twenty minutes.  Let's say that yeilds a quarter of a gram, which amounts to about 0.75 grams of gold per hour, and that gives about 42 hours to get an ounce of gold by panning a typical but decent spot.

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I think Chris did a good job of providing his own rough estimates of the time for him to produce an ounce of gold. I think he wanted to give nubbies some realistic idea of what is involved....

I don’t pan anymore, way to much work, dry washing is too much work...sniping is fun and easy; but, I don’t live near a river anymore.

Metal detecting is my thing! I would not even guess the number of hours it took to get the gold I found. The thing is, if I was doing it just for money working at Walmart would have been a much better choice.

fred

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  I have to agree with Fred that Chris did an excellent job of ranking prospecting/mining methods in time-cost -return. There are so many variables involved that the best use of the article mentioned would be for comparison only ( as Chris alluded to). What is great about Chris's article is that he put a big dark cloud of truth right in the middle of many new prospectors silver lining. I fully intent to blow his 40hrs / ounce of gold completely out of the water.

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4 hours ago, fredmason said:

Metal detecting is my thing! I would not even guess the number of hours it took to get the gold I found. The thing is, if I was doing it just for money working at Walmart would have been a much better choice.

fred

Nothing against Wallmart Fred but I think you and I would find our way around Home Depot much easier!

strick

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58 minutes ago, klunker said:

  I have to agree with Fred that Chris did an excellent job of ranking prospecting/mining methods in time-cost -return. There are so many variables involved that the best use of the article mentioned would be for comparison only ( as Chris alluded to). What is great about Chris's article is that he put a big dark cloud of truth right in the middle of many new prospectors silver lining. I fully intent to blow his 40hrs / ounce of gold completely out of the water.

Spot on! Every season I get people here intent on making thier fortune with a shiny new detector. Half the detectors just aren't suitable for finding gold and half the people just aren't suitable for living in the scrub.

After a couple of days they soon learn gold doesnt just pop out of the ground, you have to really work for it.

If you want a lifestyle become a prospector, if you want to get rich get a job.

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40 hrs for an ounce detecting in the USA? Maybe 10+ years ago. Most the people I meet in the field are struggling to get 1 ounce a season today if they don't have exclusive land access or insider/oldtimer knowledge to work off.

I don't have a subscription since they run LRL ads (or did when I subbed) and paper hangers and I believe an engineering journal shouldn't support scam artists and pseudoscience, but that's like $60k a year equivalent, more than I make at my job. That isn't greenhorn deterrent, that's the stuff that makes a newbie go out and buy a $2500 metal detector and get extremely frustrated. Hopefully the article clarifies that stuff.

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Yeah, I was going to say the same. $30+/hour would not be a deterrent for the vast majority of people. I'd be very happy to hit half that, and would be happy to recover costs for my hobby.

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