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overtheedge
23:56:51 Sun
Sep 30 2012

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So you wanna placer mine

Part 1

So you are thinking about becoming a placer miner. The first question you need to ask yourself is why?

If you think this route is the way to riches, think again. The odds are not in your favor. You will make more money in a 9-5 at a hash-house than you will make per year placer mining.

Yes you can make lots of gross income if everything works out just right, but it is net income that matters. In other words, it is return on investment that is the all of the matter.

Is it the adventure? If so, you should find a pay-to-mine outfit and spend your time there. Few have the skills needed to spend weeks in the field. Couple that with everything else and you are taking a vacation is all.

Placer mining is a lifestyle. To have any success, you must gain the skill sets and assets needed.

1. Knowledge.
You need to learn as much as possible about gold deposition, physical geology, placer mining technology, repair/maintenance, etc.

Many of us use the winter off-season to do research, repair or build equipment and planning.

2. Discretionary income.
How much money do you have that you are willing to gamble with. Yes, you are gambling on yourself with your money.

Every trip you make to the field costs money. In most cases, your income is far lower than your expenses. This has the direct consequence of how long can you continue to spend money with minimal income.

3. Time commitments.
Many if not most of us have to work 9-5 and this limits our field time. Many are married and this means we MUST spend time with the family. Unless the entire family is into placer mining, you aren't spending quality time with the family and it WILL have an adverse effect on item #2.

How long can you stay in the field? A couple days, a couple weeks or a season?

4. Skill set.
You can only acquire the needed skill set by doing. At the top of the list for skills is panning ability. If you aren't really good at panning, you will be forced to spend money on technology that will probably never pay for itself. Remember that tools cost money and that is money NOT available for field time.

I contend that if you can't shake out 30 or more pans an hour, you need more time learning to pan. The easiest way to acquire this skill is by spending an entire season with just a pan, shovel and snuffer bottle.

This panning ability has the direct positive effect on you learning sampling techniques. The more effective your sampling efforts, the greater your chances are of achieving a net positive cash flow.

The ability to sample has the added benefit of helping you learn the depositional characteristics of the gold in that particular stream.

Your skill set is also a matter of physical conditioning. Either get in excellent shape or remain at the recreational level. All terrain vehicles are NO substitute. They will get you further from the road than you can easily walk back and if you are 20+ pounds over-weight, maybe they will get you out on a stretcher and not a body-bag. Maybe.

5. Realistic expectations.
This creates a problem. We all have visions of goose egg nuggets, but the reality is our recovery might be weighed in grains.

You have to learn what amount of gold per day will pay the bills. 30 pans an hour will easily get you a yard worked a day. Weigh the gold and figure the return at no more than 75% of spot. Forget about spot+. Yes, it can be done. However I've met few that can sell any quantity and are you gonna be in marketing or mining?

How many yards per day will it take break even? Locally, I can run 3X as much (4.5 yards) with a high-banker compared to panning. Realistically you can figure 4-8 yards per day shoveling in.

Buying technology increases up-front costs and operating expenses. If the deposit can't pay its way, you must move on. Unfortunately the up-front costs must be transferred to the next site. This is why pan sampling is a must-do.

Unless you have gotten a large inheritance, forget about large low-grade deposits. True expenses rise faster than net profits. Far better to sell the claim to someone that already has the equipment and expertise to turn a profit. Any potential investor will want a piece of the recovery and you are almost guaranteed to lose everything.
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Placer mining is NOT the highway to fortune. If you want a fortune, start, develop and sell a business. All the stuff on TV and youtube is pie-in-the-sky nonsense. Nobody shows you the bad days that go on for days and weeks.

For the few that equate placer mining with a lifestyle, the rewards aren't measured in just dollars. It is about the hardest work I've ever truly enjoyed.
--------------
I've probably over-looked something.

Best suggestion I can offer is start small, stay small and watch your expenses. Never stop learning. With enough perseverance and money, your possibility of success increases. But success is not in the form of a fortune but rather enjoyment with a modest season's profit.

Feel free to add your thoughts. Disagree all you want. I haven't made the final step yet to full-time mining, but not for lack of trying over the last 40+ years. I can almost always stay in beans.
----------------
In part #2, I'll cover what I think is the cheapest, efficient, small-scale production aspects.
eric

  
baub
02:53:14 Mon
Oct 1 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

Thanks Eric.

b

  
overtheedge
03:35:26 Mon
Oct 1 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

Part II
I have had to stick close to the phone for a job prospect so I had time to type up this.
------------
We'll set up a scenario that I find all too common.

Sampling finds me a pay streak that shows 40-50 colors with a few just about big enough to pick up with tweezers. Or 100 or so just visible to the naked eye per pan of bank-run. This is roughly 0.25 dwt of flour gold/yard in this area. Or at today's spot of $1750 about $17-18/yard. This is good ground around here. I can usually find a better spot every couple weeks or so under normal water conditions.

Once I have found the site, I do a quick sampling to delineate the boundary. The boundary is defined in the previous paragraph. From experience, I know less than that amount per pan is marginal for staying in beans with no expenses.

Now I face a choice: pan or high-bank. This decision is determined on the extent of the deposit. Around here, it is flood gold and the maximum depth is less than 1 foot. Digging deeper than a foot is a waste of time and effort around here.

So we'll say the deposit is 15' wide and 40' long. This equates to roughly 20-22 cubic yards. This is 4-5 days high-banking in the rivers I work. High-banking is the most effective recovery system for this deposit.

Much of the time, the size is closer to 6' wide and under 20' long or about 4.5 cubic yards. This is 3 days panning or 1 day high-banking. The question now is access. Because most of the ground I work is a couple three miles from the nearest place to park, hauling in a high-banker and all support stuff for 1 day's work is silly. So I'll take the minimalist approach.
-----------------------
Production panning or the minimalist method.
Panning is work. At 30+ pans an hour, you can pan out 1-1.5 bank cubic yards a day. But you have to work smart to shake out 200-240 pans of classifieds a day.

Equipment:
Garrett Super Sluice pan
#2 long-handle shovel and plastic trowel
classifier
2ea 5 gallon buckets
Plastic tub of roughly 12-15 gallon capacity
sheet of plastic 10'X 10'
snuffer bottle

Find a spot that you will be panning at. Lay out the plastic sheet with the edges held up; think big plastic basin. Put large tub where you will be digging. Fill and carry over 2 buckets of water and fill tub.

Put the classifier in the tub and shake. Empty and repeat until tub is close to full of classifieds. Fill buckets half full, carry to plastic sheet, dump and refill buckets with water.

Do it all over and over again until you have moved 40-50 buckets to the sheet.

Never carry anything that is obviously not gold. If you are concerned about nuggets in the classifier, use a heavier piece of plastic as the classifier dump. Look it over, pick up any nuggets and dump the material off.

Either sit or squat to pan. NEVER bed over to pan. It is tiring, energy inefficient and ... just sit or squat.

Fill the pan and shake it underwater. Tilt the pan every few shakes to shake out the lights. As the pan empties, refill with the trowel. Do this several times (6,8,12x,whatever), then raising the pan half way out of the water, side to side shake most of the lights off.

Tilt the pan so the part nearest you is lowest and tap the upper side several times. Snuff out the easiest gold. Then while keeping the remainder in the pan, refill and repeat.

NOTE: Once gold is in the pan, you really gotta screw up to lose it. Please note: none of this swirling the pan nonsense. If you want to production pan, spend a few hundred hours using a LeTrap pan. Then use the same basic technique with a round pan.

After snuffing, repeat the whole procedure until what was in the plastic basin is done.

Then go back to classifying.

I can usually work through 3-4 of these routines a day for 0.75-1 dwt a day or close to $70 a day at today's spot price. Keep in mind that I am only panning classifieds, not bank-run like I would sampling.

On good ground around here, this is just a bit better than minimum wage.

Admittedly, I often work less productive ground. Part of this is due to the long hike home so consequently later in the day, I work the less productive sites rather than hike even further from home. In the 30's, the US Bureau of Mines determined that the subsistence miner averaged close to 7 grains a day. That is a $20 day at today's spot. I rarely do much worse than that around here.

So if you are driving anywhere, you better do at least twice that amount per day or go broke and hungry fast.
------------------
So why would a person choose production panning?
1. Start-up and operating costs are minimal.
2. Gain expertise panning.
3. Learning to read the river.
4. Develop confidence in your abilities.
-----------------
Production panning 2.0

If you consider the time/motion characteristics, you will notice classification and transport the major cause of low productivity.

We've all seen photos of the old-timers using long sluices. Add a splash board for shoveling in so the material is deflected into the flume. Flume: sluice with no bedding.

Make the flume long enough to get its water from the river and near the bottom end add a short section of screen for a classifier. Have the flume pitch steepen after the screen and go a ways longer for tailings. Under the screen, have your plastic basin or another flume/plastic pipe to the panning material basin. If you are concerned about gold getting in the wood grains, line with heavy plastic or aluminum roof flashing.

With a lined flume, you can use scrounged scrap lumber. When you are finished and moving on, remove the liner and burn the flume.

Although you can classify much more using this technique, you will find that panning very much more per day is impossible. Even with Popeye arms, you will tire out.
--------------------
Production 2.8
Substitute a sluice for the plastic basin. For this level of production, a 6-8" sluice 3-4' long will handle everything you can shovel. The key is always classification.

At this level, you can process just as much as someone with a high-banker.

If the stream gradient will require a lengthy flume, you can run a 30 GPM pump and get enough water as long as the flume is 6-8" wide and you take time to flume tend.

NOTE: Never compromise on the sluice bedding. You go to all the work to get it into the sluice, now is not the time to lose any. Any good bedding material will last several seasons under this usage regime. If you can't afford good bedding, you can't afford to go to the river.
----------------
Stream sluices aka river-robbers.
Once you learn to production pan, no advantages over panning at all. Multiple disadvantages such as siting requirements, feeding, etc.
----------------
High-bankers
The only advantage I've found to high-bankers is convenience. For myself, all the stuff needed is one heavy load on these tired old bones. Often it takes two loads to carry everything out because it is after a long day's work.

For every day I high-bank, I usually pan 3-5 days. Small deposits don't warrant hauling in a high-banker and sure doesn't warrant the long back-hauling.
--------------
Dredging
I have three dredges with the largest a 2.5" Keene crash-box. I dredged 2 days this season. I could have done just as well at lower expense by panning.

From my limited experience with dredges up to 4", I can say that unless you are in water deeper than long-arming, a dredge is a poor choice.

You still are moving large rocks by hand. The amount of material processed is small. I have real problems doing better than about 1/2 cubic yard an hour with my 2.5". Most dredges have poor recovery in -30 mesh material. All of them are heavy, cumbersome and plug-ups just p*** me off. Putting a restrictor bar across the nozzle increases the moving over-size by hand issue.

Unless the current is really swift, you can shovel from under-water. Yes you will lose some, but not as much as we have been led to believe.
---------------
Any further upgrade requires earth-moving equipment. Most folks in really good shape are limited to 4-8 bank cubic yards a day. I average about 4.5 into a high-banker and slightly more (6 plus or minus) into a sluice-flume system.
-------------
Again, feel free to disagree. I would just ask that you provide a good argument so I can maybe learn some more. My thoughts change as new info is processed.


eric

  
cubsqueal
04:10:20 Mon
Oct 1 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine


Eric,

I'm always amazed at your ability to organize your thoughts in such an orderly fashion! That is a gift I have had to do without.

With critical thinking like you have, I imagine gold doesn't have a chance in your area.

  
overtheedge
08:07:33 Mon
Oct 1 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

I do pretty well down to 80 mesh, at 100 mesh my recovery percentage drops to low 90's/high 80% range. At 150 mesh I bet I ain't doing any better than 50% if that.

It is just too bad that the gold hereabouts runs just over 50% in the -30+60 mesh range with nothing larger than 14 mesh.

Even worse is the exceeding low tenure. The Tonsina River, my favorite haunt only because I can walk to it, isn't considered to have gold bearing potential. Upstream there was one pseudo-goldrush that had 60 claims for one season in 1898. It was worked out with a total take of somewhere between 60-100 ozt. According to what history I can find, in 1899 there was one family left in the drainage.

To the best of my recollection, over the last 30 years or so here, I've never had a 5 dwt daily clean-up off the Tonsina. Several 3-4 dwt and lots of 0.5-1 dwt. But I've learned a lot about fine gold recovery and flood gold deposition in glacial streams.

I get the information flow organized by writing off-line and then editing it profusely. Often it takes several attempts and even then I am amazed that I can get anything understandable across.
eric

  
Fleng
17:08:54 Mon
Oct 1 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

Great reading OTE.

  
baub
18:45:49 Mon
Oct 1 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

OTE,

You answered many of my unasked questions both clearly and concisley.
I'm going to try something very similar to that which you explained to us in a river with very fine gold only.

Thanks for the help!

b

  
dickb
18:54:48 Mon
Oct 1 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

Might reduce the expectations of some of the newbee's with gold fever. Nice lesson and really to the point.

Dickb :confused:

  
overtheedge
20:42:27 Mon
Oct 1 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

I knew I would forget something and it would be important (at least to me).

Back in part I under knowledge, I think the best thing I ever did in this field was take a college course in Physical Geology. 2nd best was keeping the book and workbook.

I find myself dragging the books out and consulting them repeatedly on crustal deformation and orogenesis (mountain building). In this area, glaciology enters the picture big-time.

If we want any chance of success, we need to know what mechanism provided the pathway for intrusions which are linked to ore deposits.

As mountains build, they are also torn down by mass wasting. Once the material reaches a stream course, this is where knowing the basics of hydrology come in. From this, we can get a good idea of sediment load versus stream velocity which directly effects sediment deposition.

Just wish I had majored in geology rather than prodigal son-ology. Oh well, it has been an grand adventure.
eric

  
hoppingforpay
00:00:23 Tue
Oct 2 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

I imagine this type of deposit can be found on many of alaska rivers with the right type of geology entering it's waters. Usually the streak is found at the head (upstream) of a bar. On leaner rivers only a very small percentage of the bars will show a sign. And of these an even smaller percentage may pay. Here is one I found years ago on a known gold river. I have checked 25 miles of this river and only found 1 more bar like this one which I also worked.Funny thing is the pay does not go into the water at normal height. Some of this ground was 1 oz per day (4 days) and test pans showed a wooden match head worth of fine gold to the pan.

The workings show what amounted to 11ozs for 20 something days at around 3 yds a day.

[1 edits; Last edit by hoppingforpay at 01:44:49 Wed Oct 3 2012]

  
hoppingforpay
00:05:18 Tue
Oct 2 2012

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Pic worked on preview but seems I lost when it counted...maybe someone can fix

  
Jim_Alaska
01:41:03 Tue
Oct 2 2012

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The pic is way too big. Try resizing it on photobucket and them post it again.



---
Jim_Alaska
Administrator
jfoley@sisqtel.net
 
 
hoppingforpay
02:51:14 Wed
Oct 3 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

Well I shrunk it some maybe...

I just wanted to show the work involved even in uncommonly good ground. The best of it being 7 dwt a yard.

I had walked out with a backpack 18 miles to this river. I took 2 pans on a large gravel bar got maybe a spec in one of the pans then proceeded upstream and came to this bar. A normal boring white gravel bar. I took a pan thinking its not going to be good because it was loose and white. Low and behold possibly 175 colors, a wooden matchheads worth I took another and another and another pan and all of them were good. I staked claims walked out leaving a pup tent and a cheap toy raft. I went and bought used 4 wheeler.

I returned a week or so later with a highbanker and necessary gear and worked it. I slept 10 ft up in the trees because both my tent and raft were ruined by bears and it's much better sleeping.

This was around 1994 I had been dredging elswhere in AK since 91 but wanted to go deeper into the bush to get to areas less touched by dredgers of the late 70s and 80s.

I later brought in a 5" and put it in just down from this bar. I got 5 grains for a tank. Moved closer to the spot ditto. 5 dwt was the best I could do and that was right up to where I was shoveling. Luckily there was some good stuff upstream.

The gold from that bar was the only gold I got that year 3000 bucks back then. Enough for the 4 wheeler.

  
overtheedge
03:48:36 Wed
Oct 3 2012

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Gotta love them bears. Last year I stashed my high-banker with pump, etc up against a whole bunch of wind/thrown trees. Wanted to keep it off the river due to bears and the relatively few white-water rafters.

Went back the next day and everything was scattered all over the place with the pump upside down 15-20 feet away. No damage fortunately.

I learned to stash the stuff way back in the brush away from any game trails. Dense willow or alder thickets seem the best.
----------------
Worked a 15-20 mile stretch of the river except for a 3-4 mile stretch that is difficult to get to. The good bars seem to be just below sharp curves where the is active erosion of high gravel banks. The rest is good for a couple fly-poop sized colors. I've gone a couple three miles at a time and nada.

I've found that most of these bars get recharged with gold after a good break-up. The problem is waiting for the water to drop which didn't this year except for 5-6 days.
------------------
That is one thing that took me awhile to grasp. It takes a mess of colors per pan of flour gold to be worth working. Looks like pennyweights in the pan and is only a few grains.

Oh well if it was easy, gold would be cheap. Hardest work I've ever loved.
eric

  
hoppingforpay
02:24:34 Fri
Oct 5 2012

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Yeah I left one for half a summer on the River of Leaves, it looked ok till I started it. Looked like a lawn sprinkler. New plastic. They like that new smell or anything with fuel or oil in it. Probably lose 1/4 oz per year to bear write offs. I thought a chainsaw would be safe, but no, a hole in the gas tank and fuel on my leg...

Yeah I noticed that where the river is eating at an old channel and turns a corner. I know of one right now on the North Spoon of the River of Leaves that many a prospector has left only foot prints in the past 10 years.

My 3 yds a day may seem like a pretty wussy effort but my back wasn't up to par do to that pancake flip.Don't cook on the ground when mining.

But seriously 8 yds! Who is this guy! Lebron James? I need a overburden shoveler and driveway builder!

  
Honza_Basta
17:29:32 Sun
Oct 7 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

Panning: it depends on... whether you are pannin each pan to the pure gold, or only producing cons.
Today finished finals of the World goldpanning championship in South Africa. The best panners are used to proceed 40 pound bucket of sand in approx 1:30min. :smile: Mostly with "Ferrari" pan... ...but of course, it is not real production.:confused:

  
hoppingforpay
19:21:38 Sun
Oct 7 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

A person can do a pan every two minutes no problem if he has a pile of gravel right next to him. Accumulating the pile will take time from the day too.

Some may think I am jerk cause I question some assertions made by others. I try to stay within the boundaries of my own experience. This includes decades of living off the gold I have recovered with may be 5% of income from other sources.

Eight yds is around 16 ton. " You load 16 ton what do get another day older and deeper in debt....

But thats loading blasted coal and just a song. Eight yds is a hole 6x6x6 feet. A dump truck load. Sure one can shovel out a dump truck in a day. Digging into a gravel bed is another story it requires a lot of picking to loosen rocks. Some of the rocks may weigh 200 lbs or more. These rocks have to be moved in order to get to bedrock or just make room for other rocks.

I mentioned 175 colors to the pan that made a pile the size of a wooden match head. This is very rare, what an old timer would call a 10 cent pan or a 10th of a penny weight. If you read some history from the early days you will come across talk of 25 cent pans. This I believe would be 25% of a dwt or 4 pans to the dwt. I have seen these kinds of pans also. Of course an even more rare find.

Placer mining is about ground. One is looking for the above and it is not easy.

  
hoppingforpay
01:39:38 Sat
Oct 13 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

A better picture of skim digging deposit.It doesn't pay beyond 1 ft deep and next economical deposit was more than a mile away but not a skim deposit.


  
hoppingforpay
01:47:44 Sat
Oct 13 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

Tree camping


  
hoppingforpay
02:26:46 Sat
Oct 13 2012

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And the 11 ozs. About 1/2 oz per day. Average pan about 100 colors making a pile about the size of a paper match head.A fairly heavy fine gold, not the kind that licking your finger will pick them up.Very rare to find gold of this richness just sitting on the surface but I am sure there are more of them out there for an intrepid prospector.


  
overtheedge
06:58:42 Sat
Oct 13 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

I'm in agreement with you hoppingforpay.

I've sampled supposedly good ground according to best selling books and a person could shovel-in 8 yards a day. As an example, I spent a couple days in the Alaska Range around MP 223-224.5 Richardson Hwy. I sampled the creeks from the bridge downstream to the Delta River. The rocks were shovel size and smaller, but I got nothing but pyrite in the pan. So much for the best selling books. It was an adventure and I would have never known unless I tried.

Where I get into the gold is the head of the bars. A long hard day into a high-banker is about 4.5 yards. Towards the lower end where the economic cut-off is, I can hit right around 6 yards. The pay layer is shallower at 6-8 inches and the large rocks to move are far fewer.

Perhaps I should have made it clear that the yardage is bank cubic yards where 1/2 or better is too big to do more than move out of the way. Moving half a dozen basket ball size rocks is 3-4 cubic feet in itself. Spending 5-10 minutes moving these just these puppies is close to half yard. Just shovel what you can and roll the boulders into the spot you opened up.

Realistically, I only shovel about 2-2.5 or so yards through the high-banker or sluice. The rest of the yardage is just rolled to the side.

I would argue that 8 bank cubic yards is closer to 13 tons. This is figured at 3300 lbs per yard. Seems every year or so I weigh a few shovel loads and mine run 10-11 pounds a piece. 2 shovel loads to the pan.

Around here, 100-150 colors to the pan is about 2 dwt a day shoveling in. Wouldn't be so bad if that was the daily average, but it only comes in short spurts with lots of lean days in between.

Next year I get social security and I'm heading to better diggings if my health holds out. I'm getting to old to work this hard for just beans.

BTW what State you working in hoppingforpay?
eric


  
hoppingforpay
04:16:42 Mon
Oct 15 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

Yeah 8 yds is doable if surface digging and the rocks dont need to be picked to get loose and completely moved out of the hole.Ive seen a lot of hand diggers and maybe the best of them move 60 buckets. Ive seen all day spent on a bucket sized hole also!

Creeks hide their gold much better than rivers. Only pans taken from bedrock will reveal anything if anything.Need to find where the old timers dug then search.

I went to the Alaska Range when I first came here with some Slovakians.There was ok gold but not for the amount of money we were going through.


  
hoppingforpay
04:26:17 Mon
Oct 15 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

This spendy....


  
overtheedge
16:54:27 Mon
Oct 15 2012

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You ain't justa kidding. 20 some years ago, when I was chasing fire, we would hire light to medium rotary's. Going rate back then was $750-1000USD per hour dry with 3 hour daily minimum (Bell Jet Rangers, Long Rangers, Hughes 500s, AS-350s, etc). Bell 205s, 212s ran around $1500/hour dry. Then there was the ferry time from usually Anchorage to Copper River Basin.

I can well imagine that fuel prices now are at least 2-3X what we paid back in the late 80's early 90's. So figure hundreds of pounds an hour in fuel (usually Jet-A) consumption on top of rental price.
eric


  
hoppingforpay
03:48:32 Tue
Oct 16 2012

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I think it was 5000 bucks to hire chopper. We also had a plane and five people on this gold extraction plan.It had been prospected the year before by one of the Czech's but he was overly optimistic on what we would get. We got 6 oz before things erupted in a long crazy story. We did run into some 1 oz per day stuff which showed in a place that had nothing to do with the rivers current channel.

This is how many come up to Alaska to get the good gold. Over manned over spent and under knowledged.I had a feeling of this possibility and I had brought my own dredge which I did not fly in.I was able to get on a persons claim on the River of Leaves and drummed up some gold to avoid getting a job yet again.It is also the year I practically destroyed my back flipping that pancake.

When I first started chasing gold it took me and my father a year of weekends to get 1/2 oz saved.Being young and dumb I decided this is what I was going to do.I read as much as I could find on the Klondike and mining in general.

I discovered a reference to gold on the Big Salmon River in the Yukon so I built a plywood scow and drove to Quiet Lake bolted the scow together in the campground and took off pretty much scared for my life. It eventually disapated each day that I was not mauled. I checked each creek I came to for color but found nothing except on Illusion Creek where I think I found a little bit.I did end up getting 160 dollars worth out of the river but I was told about this spot by the guy I bought a 3 inch dredge from.A lucky find this guy was had been prospecting the Yukon for many years.Running many of it's rivers.

  
Scrub
19:14:55 Wed
Oct 17 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

I enjoyed the discussions about actual experiences. There's just one thought I'd like to add. While the objective may be gold, I've enjoyed the experience of the search just as much as the finding. I've never gotten rich and never expect to ... however, just to be out in the middle of nowhere, working hard and taking what you find without grumbling is the reward I expect, and I've never been disappointed yet with that attitude.

Thanks for all the threads from guys who actually know their business! Keep on working, writing and dreaming!
:thankyou:

  
LipCa
02:40:38 Thu
Oct 18 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

Sixty buckets is only about a yard and a half. I don't think I would last long at 320 buckets a day!

Good thing there were big rocks:smile:

  
Scrub
14:32:49 Thu
Oct 18 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

An old friend of mine & I are planning to go back again next summer to placer mine in the eastern Interior. We dredged & high-banked on the Forty Mile last year, and I've requested a permit on another river that I used to pan and sluce on in the 70's. Judging from the size of gold and the amounts I was getting there then v.s. what we got last summer on the Fortymile, I don't think I'm being overly optimistic in thinking we may get as much as an oz/day using a high-bank and/or dredge there. Of course, as is correctly pointed out in the above discussion, it may be a small pocket. Also, nearly forty years can change things on the river as well as fog my memory. However, I have vials from the two adventures and there's no disputing the gold I found in the 70's is much larger.

Any advice on production rate comparisons on a 2" v.s. a 4- or 6"-dredge? We used a 6" dredge last summer & found it difficult to manage. We're both over 60, & although we're in pretty good shape for our age, the 6" dredge worked us to death. We encountered two problems: 1) Managing the large cobbles; & 2) keeping our weight belts above our waists.

The other river upon which I've requested a permit is shallower and has smaller cobbles. I'm therefore thinking about employing a simple garden rake to rake down cobbles before dredging; we're also building a harness to keep our weight belts up.

The garden rake has tines about 2" apart, so that may help us dredge more efficiently by reducing the # of larger cobles to keep out of the nozzle. The fact that this river is (normally) shallower may even render our wet-suit, hooka system & weight-belt unnecessary. What do you more experienced miners think about extrapolating recovery rates as I did above and about the garden rake & 2" dredge idea?

Thanks for any input ...

/s/Scrub
[1 edits; Last edit by Scrub at 14:35:51 Thu Oct 18 2012]

  
geowizard
15:04:13 Thu
Oct 18 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine


I agree completely. If a person is mining for recreation, then the objective is recreation. If the objective becomes a matter of making money then the requirements change.

Placer mining with a "for profit motive" becomes a matter of offsetting the costs with revenue. Anybody that's ever had to balance a check book knows what that's all about.

So, you wannabe a placer miner? :confused:

The first decision is; recreational? or Commercial?

Let's discuss a "commercial" placer model:

Since the discussion is moving to a higher level, commercial placer mining is something I can offer advice on.

The prerequisites are the same as for most entrepreneurial ventures;

1. You must have knowledge of the business.
2. You must be prepared to invest time and money.
3. You must understand that losing is part of the equation.

One of the difficult barriers to entry into commercial mining is the financial cost involved. Because it is necessary, as shown above, that the mining operation move a large amount of material to generate significant amount of revenue - at least enough material to offset costs.

It is understood, one man alone, cannot do the work required. Two men doubles the production and doubles the cost. The solution is to employ machines that can move more material and do it efficiently!

Given the proper business model and appropriate investment it can be done.

- Geowizard

  
geowizard
15:23:11 Thu
Oct 18 2012

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Re: So you wanna placer mine

Scrub,

You were writing at the same time I was.

I have a 3" Proline combo and a Keene Mini 6" Dredge. As you mention, they have trade-offs. The 6" is more work. Moving more material requires more work! You probably know the answer to your question. Answers to the question of grade of the placer are always answered "after the fact". I have always found it reasonable to extrapolate grade. Caveat: I have seen it taken to excess when grade is extrapolated over 160 acres and from surface to 30 feet. :smile:

With reference to the rake. Underwater, the rake would tend to pull the diver back and forth rather than raking. Smaller picks work better because force is applied over a smaller area.

- Geowizard

  

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