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Andyy

Detecting Ore Tailings From Drift Mining Operation

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Hello all.  I have a bit of a strange question which may or may not belong in the detecting section ...

Recently I ran across a hardrock mine (this is in the western United States by the way) in which there were several drifts cut into the mountain above each other (assuming I have my terminology correct).  Outside of each of the horizontal shafts were two piles of ore (with quartz and visible gold in some of it).  One pile always seemed to have been classified or crushed to less than an inch while the other pile (usually much larger-approx 15' high) was 3-4 inches in size.  It was in the larger pile that I typically saw the small gold.  

This was obviously an old operation and there were many hundereds of old rusted out cans outside of the mine at the bottom of the mountain.

I was wondering if anyone could describe (in general)  the typical operation the old timers would run to extract their gold which typically results in two piles nearby each horizontal shaft?  These piles are hundreds of feet up on the hillside.  In this case it seems like they have left a lot of gold.  I am sure I could crush and pan a lot of ore but I am primarily interested in detecting these piles for the slightly larger stuff that may have missed their well trained eyes.  But to properly metal detect such piles, I would like to get an idea of the basic steps these miners were taking with these piles.  I appreciate any input.

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Hello, Andyy.

I and my wife have detected tailing piles in Colorado with great success. From the information you described it sounds like the miners were sorting the higher grade ore (the classified or crushed ore) from the lower grade ore ( larger pieces). What we found in the past is the miners only had there eyes to determine what was high grade ore vs. the lower grade ore and what they couldn't see was thrown on the low grade ore or waste rock pile. Sometimes these tailing piles have productive areas within the tailing piles that contain small pockets of gold specimens when miners were in very rich vein material and also found productive areas that formed a horizontal line across the tailing pile as they dumped ore on to the tailing pile.

There maybe some very nice gold specimens to be found. I would recommend using a high frequency VLF detector if the mineralization isn't to bad or a PI that detects small or sponge specimen gold.

Let us know what you find!

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Thank you, Glenn.  That is sort of what I was thinking.  Smaller pile must have been the high grade stuff they crushed and would attempt to haul out the bulk of it on mules.  But man those larger piles are menacing.  Too much trash for the ZED so I will likely come back with the GM1000, and work those larger piles a few inches at a time.  Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky and they will have missed some gold that was out of sight to them.  What I can tell you is the pieces that had gold were just sprinkled.  But if I get lucky, one of those 3 or 4 monster piles may have some high grade ore with some gold hidden inside.  It just takes a good plan and a lot of dedication to find out if I am correct.  

They NEVER get it all :biggrin:

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That sounds very interesting. How come it is still there & has not been detected or cleaned up before now. Are you the first to have come across it? Cheers.

Good luck out there

JW  

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21 hours ago, kiwijw said:

That sounds very interesting. How come it is still there & has not been detected or cleaned up before now. Are you the first to have come across it? Cheers.

Good luck out there

JW  

Well I am guessing that people just didn't know what they were looking at.  That and the fact that it is so far far away hidden in the between.  :biggrin:

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Take a four prong take and attach a few high poundage rare earth magnets and spend a bit of time raking out as much of the cans as possible. The long four prongs will work very well to plow up the ground and the cans so they can get sucked up to the magnets. It might take some time but chances are it will be worth the effort when you go back into the pile, this time swinging your detector.

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16 hours ago, Andyy said:

Well I am guessing that people just didn't know what they were looking at.  That and the fact that it is so far far away hidden in the between.  :biggrin:

WOW...lucky you. Good on you. Keep us posted. The stuff dreams are made of.

Good luck out there

JW :smile:

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Could we possibly see some photos of these mine dumps so we know what to look for in the field?

Thanks.

 

-Tom

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Scrub geo-coordinates from digital photos if you want the location kept secret!

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Awesome, I believe you’ve found the mother load. As far as left overs go. 

 Me, I’d take those piles down layer by later.

 You said you found speckled ore. Crush it all. It adds up. Sounds like the tellurides in Colorado.

  After you get that all cleaned up. I’d work every direction for at least five hundred feet.  Especially down hill of the mine for material that got away. Look for their trails, could’ve dropped high grade on their way out. Dropped a bag or two, busted open. Who knows. I would most certainly at least work parallel to existing mine. You may find an unseen stringer or vein just below the ground. 

  Seriously, if your the first to be there since the miners left. I’d work the poop outta it.

 Good Luck. And enjoy!!!

          Terry

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