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Small Scale Hardrock (Lode) Mining


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I think your spot on there Chris.


On another subject, is there some kind of simple, lightweight method to sample in the field? Right now I just bag everything up, put it in my backpack, and hike around with a bunch of rocks until the day is over. Then I crush them up at my trailer and pan it out there.


But I'd be nice to do it all in the field and be able to follow leads while I'm out there to concentrate prospecting efforts more. A GB2 does the job well if there is enough gold and large enough, but samples can easily run 1 oz/ton and be disseminated enough to not make a peep on the detector still so it isn't sufficient.


I wanted an XRF gun for (among other things) this. But they have their own limitations and problems for this kind of use, and way out of my price range anyways. Any other good alternatives?

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Yeah, I've seen those, but my mortar and pestle crush ok already and are much more portable. The problem is the water and my lack of a burro to haul it up mountains with me. It takes a ton of water to pan tests all day, not feasible and I wonder how the oldtimers even managed to do it unless they just took really small samples and only used water for a select few of the most promising. I guess the old timers must have pretty much concentrated on exposures with visible gold.


I should mention what I'm asking about is for straight up prospecting. Not going to old mines, just going literally to every promising looking exposure in a promising area and sampling the veins for a totally new mine. No roads or trails, no water anywhere here in the desert, just steep rocky mountains.

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The oldtimers learned where and why the gold occured in a given area. Pay close attention to where they dug. Jasong make sure you check any rusty red ground or or a spot of groud that is different color also. Might have no or just a small amount of quartz with it. You will also want to prospect any dikes sometimes the gold will be with these and not the quartz vein. Also try to identify any mineral you find you just never know. Most of the time it will only pay to prospect the dikes near the quartz veins. But who knows? Like I keep saying Contacts,Contacts,Contacts!!!

My prospecting kit has gotten smaller the older and wiser I get.

I use a rubber diaphragm off of a air brake pod for a pan. I take a small piece of lanolium with me to split my samples on. A little bit of 30 mesh sceeen and a small mortar a pestal made out of the bottom of a mercury flask and a piece of drill steel. It is a lot lighter than anything I could find to buy.

I cut my samples out of the veins,dikes or the good looking rusty ground. Make sure you take a cut the whole way across the vein. Say you have a 2 foot wide vein sometimes the pay might only be in 6 in. of it. Also take 2 or 3 inches of the hanging and foot wall the gold often occurs at these contacts.Then I crush and screen them on the spot. I then spread them out on the lanolium in a pie shape. I only take 1/8 of a 12 inch pie to camp to pan.

I sometimes I have water close if so I will pan the sample there.

If not some times I will try to look at what is left of the sample with a 10x loop. I also do this to some of the quartz before I crush it.

You would be surprised at the gold you will sometimes see.

I should of payed attention when I was younger! I would go prospecting with a oldtimer and he would do assays on the spot. He had a small metal suitcase with him. In it were about a dozen or so different little jars of powders and liquids,a set of scales, small clay cups and a stove.

We didn't use it if the weather was bad.

Wish I had that setup now with the knowledge of how to use it.

Good luck,Root

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Interesting, yeah I don't know much about assaying without a spectrometer so it'd be good to know exactly what the oldtimer was doing with that suitcase.


I haven't been concentrating much on the hanging and foot wall portions during sampling, I'll have to start doing that.

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