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  1. 6 likes
    #1 Rule -- ADVERTISING IS NOT ALLOWED IN THIS FORUM and you will be BANNED ON YOUR FIRST OFFENSE. I don't think we can make this any clearer -- this is not the place to post advertisements. Welcome to our forum! We had a few glitches, but we seem to have most of the bugs worked out. Our goal is to provide a place for miners and prospectors of all skill levels to exchange information. Of course, we hope you will also discover that our monthly publication, ICMJ's Prospecting and Mining Journal, is the other important piece of this information puzzle you can't live without. As most of you know, we have been serving the mining industry for a long time -- since 1931. It takes a long time to build a reputation for honesty and integrity, and we are seeking your help to remain an industry leader. We have an opportunity here with this forum to have some great exchanges of information. We have moderators, but it is impossible for them to monitor every message. We need your help to keep each forum on topic and to avoid posting derogatory or objectionable material. Off-topic posts will be deleted. Currently, your moderators are: Chris Ralph, Associate Editor, ICMJs Prospecting and Mining Journal Chris has been writing for us since 2004, and he took on the role of Associate Editor in 2008. He has experience in small and large scale mining, in both surface and underground operations. Chris has a degree in Mining Engineering from Nevada's Mackay School of Mines. He is an individual prospector who has been prospecting in California, Nevada, Arizona and Alaska for many years, and recently made his first venture into Australia in search of gold. Chris contributes several articles each month, including our "Ask The Experts" column. (View the list of articles Chris has written for the Journal.) He is based in Reno, Nevada. Scott Harn, Editor/Publisher, ICMJs Prospecting and Mining Journal Scott is a third-generation Editor/Publisher for the Journal, following his father and grandfather. He took over as Editor/Publisher in 1999, though he has been involved with the Journal since the mid-1970s. Scott is a small-scale miner/dredger who has prospected in California, Oregon, Washington and Montana. He authors an article or two each month for the Journal, including the "Legislative and Regulatory Update" column. (View the list of articles Scott has written for the Journal.) Scott is based in Aptos, California. Steve Herschbach, Senior Writer Steve has been prospecting, highbanking, dredging, and metal detecting for gold since the early 70s. He eventually acquired a large placer and hardrock property at Moore Creek, Alaska and has claims at other locations in the state. Lately his prospecting ventures have expanded to Nevada, California, the UK and Australia. His interests have expanded to include gold, copper, silver, platinum, and even meteorites. Steve co-founded a dealership in 1976 that became one of the largest multi-line suppliers of prospecting and metal detecting equipment in the country. He is a respected writer and teacher, and has authored several articles for the Journal. (View a list of articles Steve has written for the Journal.) Steve is based in Alaska. Dick Hammond (aka: chickenminer) Dick has been a year-round resident of the remote little town of Chicken, Alaska for over 40 years. His entry into mining started as a youngster pulling rocks down a sluicebox for his grandfather, a start that just naturally turned into a career as a commercial placer miner in Alaska's historic Fortymile Mining District. He has fabricated much of his own mining equipment including trommels and shaker plants. His interests are varied, including winter prospecting, rockhounding, lapidary and just about all aspects of the placer industry. 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  2. 4 likes
    Miners working a bench along the Fortymile river, just below the mouth of Smith creek, had to use a ditch and then a flume to carry the water from one side of the river to the other. Quite an engineering feat with shovels, axes and whipsaws !
  3. 4 likes
    Steve, I'm pursuing the drifting method for two reasons. I can't financially afford any other way to mine...at this point. But I'm also a guy stuck in the past. I have nothing but reverence and awe for the old miners and their ways of getting to the gold or whatever else they were mining. I'm also about adventure. I'm a dreamer and an eternal optimist who believes I can recreate the old ways..with a little help from modern technology...and be successful in my endeavors. The day I quit dreaming and pushing the edge is the day God can take me home.
  4. 3 likes
    Great story Harry. Best to use the power of the mining laws and discreetly go about your business. If you come to the determination that your activities will rise to a "notice level" of disturbance, then it may be time to make a call to a public land official. For small-scale projects, "hide and do your thing" works pretty well.
  5. 3 likes
    I'll address the issue that you put in the title of your post. Equipment that is powered by human strength (non-motorized) is legal in any water, any time per the Deputy Atty General for Natural Resources and IDWR. If you are running a highbanker in an upland location, obviously you are away from the creek, so IDWR says no permit required, BUT they recommend a Water Rights Permit to draw water from the creek to feed your upland located highbanker. If you're trying to run a highbanker right next to the creek with your discharge returning directly to the creek, however you filter it through the grass, etc, is a gray area. In that case, I'd seek forgiveness rather than permission. Bob
  6. 3 likes
    We got permission to park the Airstream in an outlying lot of a nearby truck stop which was roughly 2 miles from where we could access the claims. The monsoon season was full on but the rain had let up briefly while we off loaded the 4 wheeler and the rest of the gear we would need work down at the old mine site. Earlier in the summer I was able to brush out an overgrown trail that ran down a long ridge and then plunged precipitously to the valley floor. The trommel along with the rest of our tools, camping equipment, pump and hoses fit nicely in a large sled I had built to haul stuff down to the mine and the Polaris had no trouble towing the load. We set up two tents, one for tools and equipment and the other to cook and sleep in. I wanted to let Alethea work the trommel and recover our first gold, so we got busy uncovering the unwashed pay gravel at the base of the gin pole. As Alethea fed the trommel, I made adjustments to the spray into both the hopper and inside the barrel. With very little tweeking I had our Eureka Gold Thief running just as I had hoped it would. Now, would it catch gold and was there any gold in the gin pole gravel? It was not easy hand shoveling the cobbles and packed gravel even after going at it with my pick mattock, and after about a half hour we couldn't stand the anticipation, so we shut off the pump and engine to do a clean up. There was a good amount of heavies in front of the riffles and a lot in the miners moss. Into the 5 gal. bucket it all went and then into my pan. A couple minutes later there was a nice line of colors in the crease. Jubilation! I left Alethea with the gold washing while I plowed into the task of cleaning out all the debris collapsed in the 6' x 6' shaft. Down a couple of feet revealed cribbing logs in various stages of decay and some were partially locked in ice. I had read about shafts being sealed off with a plug of logs, moss, and snow and I was hopeful that is what I was encountering. Rain, rain, rain! Usually light, it was more annoying than inhibiting and our rain suits kept us dry while working.; Alethea divided her time between running the trommel and making the campsite more "homey" as women are inclined to do, especially keeping a fire going for warmth and cooking. I was so into my shaft reclamation I had to be pried away to take a lunch break. Every now and then I got sidetracked digging about in the steam shack. I was utterly fascinated with the old boiler, engine and hoist and as with the shaft I was determined to free them from their prison of ice, mud and rotted logs. At that time and still now I have the dream of rebuilding the old steam works and using them to once again to bring buckets of gold bearing gravels from 60' below to the surface to be dumped beneath the gin pole. The boiler is too far gone to use safely, but the engine and hoist need only a few minor repairs, a good greasing and they'll be good to go. Every evening we hopped onto the 4 wheeler and made our way back up the trail to the road where the Jimmy was waiting to take us back to the trailer for the night...the night with almost no darkness. We were tired enough that that didn't pose much of a problem. But the rain, the rain lulled us to sleep but it made leaving the warmth of the trailer each morning just a little difficult. Hardy Alaskan miners just suck it up and go to it...so that's just what we did for 8 days. Then it was time to leave for Nome. Les and the rest of the Nome crew met at the airport, boarded a 16 passenger turbo prop aircraft and a few hours later we were looking out over Nome harbor at a choppy gray ocean. Before leaving for the remote mine camp, groceries had to be purchased, arrangements made for a loader and dozer to be hauled and a short tour around the fascinating and historic mining town taken. About as quickly as we had arrived, we were out of sight of Nome and on our way to our destination 80 miles to the north. We had been forewarned that the camp was primitive, but on first sight "primitive" was a gross understatement. The eight small shacks stood out starkly against the barren rolling tundra. Three of the 6' x 10' buildings were sleeping quarters as was a larger structure on a hill above the camp. There was a cozy kitchen/dining shack, a storage building that doubled as a propane fired shower facility, and a parts shed. Rounding out the compound was the privy which had no door. The three women in the party quickly saw to it that one was made and installed. The last time the mine was in operation was in the '30's and it was a combination of drift mine and open cut. None of the drifts were still visible as the adits were long ago collapsed. The open cut was evidenced by the rusted remains of a Sauerman bucket winch deck operated by an ancient gas engine. On another ridge were four dilapidated frame buildings that had been part of the original camp but were too far gone to use in the new operation. One of the main jobs we had was to remove any usable items from the buildings on the ridge and the grounds around them and then burn them down. It was a choice location and the new camp would eventually be relocated there. That never happened. Another job given to me was to set up a potable water supply for the camp making use of the pristine Quartz Creek. I also helped Alethea with the cooking every now and then. One of the guys started ripping and pushing frozen muck so as to get to the pay gravel beneath. The five mile long mine road off the main gravel road was in bad need of smoothing out and widening and I had the opportunity to learn to operate the large front end loader in performing that task. I must add that once I did get the loader stuck in a particularly boggy section and the dozer had to be brought out to extricate it. It wasn't all work out in the wilds of the Seward Peninsula. We had some time to explore other nearby mining ruins, pick blueberries, wash gold with a small Gold Fields vibrating washer, photograph Musk Oxen and swat hoards of mosquitoes. One Sunday afternoon I even did a 10 mile run out to the Kugaroc River and back. Yet our time in the Nome area was cut short by an unexpected cut off of funding for the operation. As difficult as were the circumstances and living conditions at the remote camp, we were sad to have to leave so soon. The tundra had a mystical beauty and serenity that we had never experienced anywhere else in our lives and we're convinced we will return some day. Stay tuned for more.
  7. 3 likes
    We are blessed that Chris, Steve, and Dick are helping out as moderators! Chris Ralph, Associate Editor, ICMJs Prospecting and Mining Journal Chris has been writing for us since 2004, and he took on the role of Associate Editor in 2008. He has experience in small and large scale mining, in both surface and underground operations. Chris has a degree in Mining Engineering from Nevada's Mackay School of Mines. He is an individual prospector who has been prospecting in California, Nevada, Arizona and Alaska for many years, and recently made his first venture into Australia in search of gold. Chris contributes several articles each month, including our "Ask The Experts" column. (View the list of articles Chris has written for the Journal.) He is based in Reno, Nevada. Steve Herschbach, Contributing Writer Steve has been prospecting, highbanking, dredging, and metal detecting for gold since the early 70s. He eventually acquired a large placer and hardrock property at Moore Creek, Alaska and has claims at other locations in the state. Lately his prospecting ventures have expanded to Nevada, California, the UK and Australia. His interests have expanded to include gold, copper, silver, platinum, and even meteorites. Steve co-founded a dealership in 1976 that became one of the largest multi-line suppliers of prospecting and metal detecting equipment in the country. He is a respected writer and teacher, and has authored several articles for the Journal. (View a list of articles Steve has written for the Journal.) Steve is based in Alaska. Scott Harn, Editor/Publisher, ICMJs Prospecting and Mining Journal Scott is a third-generation Editor/Publisher for the Journal, following his father and grandfather. He took over as Editor/Publisher in 1999, though he has been involved with the Journal since the mid-1970s. Scott is a small-scale miner/dredger who has prospected in California, Oregon, Washington and Montana. He authors an article or two each month for the Journal, including the "Legislative and Regulatory Update" column. (View the list of articles Scott has written for the Journal.) Scott is based in Aptos, California. Dick Hammond (aka: chickenminer) Dick has been a year-round resident of the remote little town of Chicken, Alaska for over 40 years. His entry into mining started as a youngster pulling rocks down a sluicebox for his grandfather, a start that just naturally turned into a career as a commercial placer miner in Alaska's historic Fortymile Mining District. He has fabricated much of his own mining equipment including trommels and shaker plants. His interests are varied, including winter prospecting, rockhounding, lapidary and just about all aspects of the placer industry.
  8. 3 likes
    "I think that only 5% of the people who go for gold can make a living isnt because of the lack of gold, but because of the lack of determination and hard work that it takes to get it." Try less than 1%
  9. 3 likes
    This is all nonsense from the EPA. I'll go into more detail later but here are a few points to consider: 1. The EPA is not in charge of permitting dredging on navigable waters of the United States, the Army Corps of Engineers is. The EPA just got spanked by the Supreme Court for interfering with the Army on their duty to administer dredge and fill. The EPA tried to void an existing permit from the Army the court told them to F* OFF. The Courts will not be pleased to hear about the EPA continuing to push their nose in their bosses business. 2. Dredge permits are for taking material from wetlands and placing it elsewhere. Gold "dredging does not "displace" material according to several recent court decisions. 3. The NPDES permit system is for permitting "point source pollution" from outside the waterway. In-water gold dredging is neither "pollution" under the law nor is it a "point source". It seems the EPA has determined that gold dredgers in Idaho are an easy mark. Despite many court cases over the last 14 years, including several Supreme Court decisions, telling the EPA they just don't have that legal power they continue to pick on the little guy in hopes of finding some way to do what Congress and the courts have told them they can't do.
  10. 2 likes
    Late December last year I began digging a 6' x 6' prospect shaft about 100' downstream from the original Cobb prospect shaft. Armed with a 30 lb electric jack hammer, a couple of shovels and my nifty 1/2 size home made "Fairbanks self dumping bucket" system I worked my way down through frozen muck and eventually a 10' gravel layer to bed rock at 62'. On my way down I encountered layers of tangled branches and trees up to 6" in diameter. After 40+ feet I hit fine sand and scattered patches of gravel, fossil bone fragments, then complete bones. I was anticipating these finds but the excitement of actually finding them was intense. The first chunk of mammoth tusk nearly put me over the top. Progressing downward, the bones became less frequent and the pay gravel more dense. I had been told that a jack hammer would be ineffective in frozen gravel. Good I don't listen to everything I hear; it busted up almost as easy as the muck. The gravel graded into fractured and decomposed bed rock and I knew I had finally reached my goal...10 months after starting the project. Before freeze up I was able to wash 5 yards of pay and the result was encouraging. I'll have to wait till late spring to resume processing what I brought up before and what I can hoist this winter. Now it's late November and all is solidly frozen above as well as below ground. Since bottoming out in the shaft I've been devoting most of my time to upgrades above the shaft in preparation for winter work. Also I had to take a part time job in town to help pay for the added expense of moving to a small cabin also in Fairbanks. What little time I've been able to devote to underground efforts have been to expand my working space. On the way down I managed to increase the dimensions of the shaft from 6' x 6' to over 7' square. The plan is to continue out to 10' square before I begin pushing the drifts across the valley. Jack hammering straight down is relatively easy compared to working horizontally and even vertically. Sufficient pressure is difficult to exert out of position so I began working on ideas to free the gravel other than by the traditional steaming or blasting to reduce the great amount of physical labor involved with jack hammering. Suffice it to say, I'm making good progress in those efforts. I'll report on this process in months to come.
  11. 2 likes
    I plan IiIII think I'm going to have a very interesting season myself. Gonna be doing some dredgeing, digging with my mini / mini excavator & feeding a highbanker, then moving up one sde of my claim and clearing some timber and overburden to check and see if it's bench off like I suspect, and of course with all that I'll do some metal detecting as well. And of course haveing some fun along the way. Happy & Safe Digging to You All !!!!!!!!
  12. 2 likes
    Its been a real tough time for residents, but the floods in California should make for some great prospecting this summer. The photos below show flooding on the north fork of the Yuba River in the Downieville area. Chris
  13. 2 likes
    With my little prospect shack buttoned up it was time to bring in a barrel stove to provide some warmth. The stove was located at the mine cabin a half mile away on my Babe Creek claim block. It would be my first time over to the cabin since the snows had blanketed the valley so I had to break trail with my trusty old Skandic snow machine. The task went smoothly though the stove was much heavier than I had expected. If I had bothered to look inside I would have seen it was encrusted with at least 30 pounds of clinker and solidified ash. Back at Cobb I beat on the barrel with a small sledge hammer till nearly all the scale had been loosened, emptied it and dragged it into the shack. Two days later the stove pipe was in place with a short section of 8" insulated pipe through the roof and a rain cap to top it all off. I brought down a load of firewood from our cabin and with the help of bit of diesel oil I had a nice fire going. The stove drew well and it took only about 20 minutes for the shack to be comfortably warm. Now it was much easier to work on the reconfiguration of my steamer from horizontal to vertical. In its previous position it presented two significant problems; it belched sickening quantities of diesel smoke into the shack and it was difficult to drain to avoid freezing and rupturing the coil. In the vertical position I have completely enclosed the coil inside a 55 gallon drum and will be able to vent all the smoke out through the roof. And when I shut the steamer down at the end of the day it will gravity drain so freezing won't be an issue. While I'm working down at Cobb the barrel stove does the job of keeping things thawed out but when I'm away and the fire dies out I need the place to remain above freezing. To accomplish this I bought and old oil drip stove which I'm hoping will do the trick. I just finished plumbing it in today to a tank outside the shack, but I didn't have a chance to try it out...had to get back to town to watch the Denver Broncos open a can of whoop ass on the Brady Bunch.
  14. 2 likes
    I appologize to everyone here on this forum. It was never my intent to come here and start a brawl. I however have been in recovery for three months, due to a back injury, but between the drugs and the pain, I have not been very friendly to anyone. In no way do I feel that my problems should become your problems, So I will try even harder to be friendly with everyone. I am sure my kids like that idea too.
  15. 2 likes
    A few years ago, some guy who knew only a little about placer mining for gold convinced a TV production crew to create a new reality TV series about mining for gold in the frozen north of Alaska. It was successful beyond the expectations of most folks and as television people often do, if something is successful, it is copied and done over and over until it is beat to death. Imitation really is the most sincere form of flattery, and in Television land new, good ideas are scarcer than hen's teeth (and everyone wants to do reality shows because they are popular and low cost to make). The success of this show was not all that surprising to me - gold mining is interesting and the long running Gold Fever show on the Outdoor channel, though not a reality show and made on a pretty low budget, has always been one of their top rated shows. So after that success, the cable channels can't get enough of small scale mining and we now have, in addition to the original gold rush reality show which has expanded to cover multiple crews: a show depicting dredgers in Nome filled with personal drama and frustration; a show about miners seeking gold in a haunted gold mine and a show about families mining for gold. We also have a couple related shows about people seeking gold and treasure with metal detectors. New mining shows now on TV or about to be shortly running include a show about folks mining crystals and mineral specimens in Colorado on the Weather Channel, and one which will show miners working in Greenland on the Animal Planet Channel (yes, gold is now an animal, or maybe small scale gold miners are an endangered species - it could be either). If you think with all of these shows that we have finally reached the end of the line with the mining based reality shows, you are sadly mistaken. I have been contacted by a couple reality TV show production companies and they are looking for people to help them create even more new TV reality dramas based around mining. Several prospectors I know have also been similarly contacted. In case you are contacted, they are looking for over the top, larger than life type individuals that create drama simply by their nature - think of someone who would fit in well as a professional wrestler (and in fact one of the metal detecting shows is based around an ex-wrestler). I am now convinced that every cable TV channel needs at least one mining based reality series to make it profitable (probably several for most) and in order to do that every prospector in the western US will soon be getting his or her own show. I think we should all get prepared for our inevitable starring roles. I have been coming up with ideas for the episodes of my show. Since I will be coming into the game late, I will need to be staging outrageous "jumping the shark" gimmicks from the opening credits of the pilot episode (for those not familiar with the TV term "jumping the shark", check for the meaning on Google). For my own show, I figure in episode one I could wrestle a grizzly bear who has established his den in an old gold mine that I want to enter with nothing more than my bare hands. In episode two, I could capture a shark that might have swallowed some gold bars on the ocean floor and then rip its guts open with a chain saw on camera while the shark tries to bite me. Then for episode 3, I would travel to Afghanistan and fight off the Taliban with an AK47 in one hand while using a metal detector to find gold nuggets with the other. In episode 4, I would travel to Peru to enter some booby trapped ancient Inca gold mine that has poison darts that shoot out of the wall, arrays of bamboo spears that also come out of the wall, loads of tarantulas and giant spherical boulders that roll down and seal you in the mine if you are not careful. In episode 5 I could help a British MI6 agent who likes his martinis shaken, not stirred to save the world by foiling the plot of a gold smuggling evil genius who wants to attack Fort Knox and capture its gold. I think I have this reality TV thing down and figure the above is a good start, but I need more ideas. If you guys could help me by suggesting ideas for episodes or even just ideas for shows overall. I'd also be interested in your thoughts about the phenomena of all these mining based reality TV shows.
  16. 2 likes
    Great topic. Around here the ditch companies made a much better profit than the miners ever did, there are over 100 miles of ditches in the Boise Basin District. Ditches don't always parellel the creek, there was a hydraulic operation in Idaho City, that used water from two creeks. The old timers didn't start digging ditches just because pumps were expensive, they dug ditches because they did not have portable pumps, like we have today, even a small pump back then was made out of so much iron that you would not want to keep moving it.
  17. 2 likes
    Over the last decade or two, I've begun studying, building and using metal detectors. The first thing I learned is everyone seems to have an opinion and most are questionable. So in a fit of irritation, I started buying books. Guess what? Most are just opinions as well. However, ... Carl Moreland and George Overton, long time denizens of the Geotech website and MD designers in their own right wrote the book, "Inside the Metal Detector." Not only does the book cover theory, but design principles and actual projects as well. But again, the principal mechanisms presented have their own biases built into the explanations. So here is my take. ALL MDs use the same basic principles. Emit an magnetic wave which induces eddy currents in the target. Then compare the magnetic wave re-emitted by the target against the magnetic wave emitted by the detector. That's it. Compare after target with before target. MD coils are NOT, I say again, NOT antennas. So for all practical purposes, forget about radio waves. Think strictly magnetic. MD coils are just one side of a transformer. Now we have to consider the detection methods. Unlike so many others, I content that there are three detection methodologies: Frequency domain, time domain and phase domain. In frequency domain, the target affects the frequency. Think of it as frequency shift. I count two different types of detectors that use this method: BFO and Loaded Loops aka Off-resonance. In the BFO, the target pulls the transmitted frequency and you hear the difference of the pull when it is compared to a stable oscillator. In the Loaded Loop, the target pulls the transmitter either into a filter pass-band or away from the filter pass-band. This pulling of frequency is due to conditionally stable oscillators using coils that have the coil characteristics (inductance) changed by metal getting within the coils area of influence. Altering the inductance changes the operating frequency. In time domain, the re-emitted signal changes the decay characteristics of the soil. By shutting off the transmitter and coil real fast and then sampling, any noticeable change in the decay can be detected. This is the realm of Pulse Induction detectors. Stability of the oscillator is absolutely mandatory. Then there is phase domain. In phase domain detection, we look at how does the target change the phase relationship designed into the detector. Regular electricity is single phase 60 cycles per second. In industry, where there is a demand for far more power, we have three phase 60 cycle. There are three separate waveforms going down the wires with each 120 degrees out of phase with the others. In phase detection MDs, the coil and electronics are designed to accommodate the difference in phase relationships between emitted and the re-emitted signal from ground. Any conductive target will alter that phase relationship. That phase difference is measured in degrees: plus or minus. Among the phase domain detectors we have T-R and IB. Stability of the oscillator is once again mandatory. In the T-R detector, we have a carefully phase balanced pair of transmitter and receiver. Each has a separate coil. Any conductive mineral will unbalance the system. These detectors are often called two-box and were used for surveys. Most are now airborne and much more complex. This complexity is at it peak in the IB detector. It uses the same principles as the T-R, but adds discrimination. So how does it add this? Remember that phase relationship and how it can be plus or minus a few degrees? That is the key. You compare the emitted against the re-emitted in both short-term and slightly longer. The ground doesn't change much in the short-term while a target does. The ground changes slower and this is compared separately and alters the ground balance. There is no change in frequency, ergo T-R and IB are NOT frequency domain detectors. Now here it comes just because I'm old and cantankerous. You WON'T learn doodley squat from reading about detector theory on some website. It will only confuse you more. If MD theory really appeals to you, buy the book. Read it, do the experiments and build the project MDs covered in the book. You might wanna lurk for awhile on the Geotech forums. Do NOT go there if your sole interest is using detectors. It is the hang-out for designers, builders and flat-out unusual characters with odd ideas. Such as mine with frequency, time and phase domain design characteristics. There is nothing mysterious about MDs. Once you learn the theory and gain experience building with electronics, you will notice that excellent MDs can be home-made. Technically speaking, magnetometers and gradiometers are MDs. They detect a localized shift in the earth's magnetic field. Once again, it is ALL about magnetism. In using mags, there must be two mags in operation. One is the reference that logs the changes in the earth's magnetic field throughout the day while the other is the sampling mag that gets carried through the survey zone. In gradiometers, there are two mags that compare their readings. Both mags are separated by a few feet and the one closest to the iron target, remember this is about magnetism, detects the localized shift in the earth's magnetic field before the one further away. No separate reference magnetometer is required because this is only a comparative detector. Comparing here with back there. Or in cases where the gradiometer is used in vertical mode, here with just up there. The key to understanding all this is forget everything you think you know about radio. This is about magnetic fields. Yes, there is an accompanying electrical field but it isn't relevant. Hope this helps a bit. I'm still learning and have a long ways to go before I can claim any measure of proficiency. First, last and always, it is all about magnetism. Induced or natural. Oh and just a friendly aside. College doesn't teach metal detector theory or design. My electronics training background was military. Even it was awful weak. Fortunately the technical manuals covering each of the military MDs was quite well written and at an 8th grade level. Nuf said. This isn't the best forum for MD theory and design. And I admit that I am pretty much a novice. Try Geotech. It is where I go for answers. Just be aware, they ain't gonna hold your hand. So you better get familiar with the website's search function. Hope you got the idea that I'm done with this thread. I presented it only for information purposes only. eric
  18. 2 likes
    I do. Having decent ground is the answer. All the hard work in the world isn't going to bring you a good clean-up if the gold ain't there !
  19. 2 likes
    Start very small and build up slowly, learning as you go. Don't spend huge amounts of money before you gain the experience to find gold. You wont have a TV program paying all your bills, and if you lose your money, its gone. Too many are in a big rush to strike it rich, and start out by spending loads and figuring they will learn what they need to know later. Later is often too late - or never happens at all. Learn the trade of finding gold first - because no type of equipment actually finds gold - you have to find it and your equipments helps you recover it. If the gravel you put in a trommel has no gold, no gold will come out. You have to find the gold and run it through your equipment. Prospecting is a skill and a trade to be learned. Practice and study and you will learn in time.
  20. 2 likes
    Here is Washington state we have seasons on placer mining to work around the salmon and steelhead spawning seasons , but if you are running an electric pump powered by a battery and your high banker riffle area is 3 square ft or less you can run it year round, mine is powered by a 3700 GPH sub pump , it does recover more gold than I had originally anticipated , I am using miners moss and expanded metal in the box... Has anyone else tried this method yet , I am also using a RV 12 volt battery it runs this unit up to 12 hours..
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    Weeder... Good luck on the project! My trommel is a piece of 48" pipeline pipe. I use 1" woven wire screen in the screening section. I chose not to use punch plate. It is heavy and the surface to open space is far less than with wire screen. How many yards you can put through a 42" drum really depends on your material, the screen type and the opening in your screen. In typical material with about 50% of the bank run being minus 1" mesh I have no problem getting 50 yd/hr through my 48" drum with a 5' screen section. As for the sprocket .... having sections cut from stock works fine. If it is wearing on the chain rollers it is more likely a bad placement/ alignment issue. You do not need a continuous sprocket around the drum. Spaced segments works fine. I'll try and post some photos of my trommel build for you.
  22. 2 likes
    After switching to a moving map GPS (Garmin Montana 650) I'll never go back to my older units. I do a lot of research before heading out to a new area. Putting together as much information as I can before hitting the road. I used to print all this out, put together a binder and then have to flip trough the various pages to bring it all together mentally out in the field. Using software like Expert GPS I can overlay geologic maps, master title plats, Township Range and Section grids, Downloaded active claim maps (from counties that provide them online) or scanned claim maps, historic topos etc. as well as satellite imagery (great for finding dirt roads that don't appear on topo maps) Using google earth, I layout potential access roads, camp sites and points of interest and upload all this to the GPS. Now when I'm out in the field I can switch to the various overlays and drive around on a geologic map or walk straight to where an active claim corner should be. The 650 has a built in camera that I use to capture sample locations or things of interest that may help direct me where to go on a follow up trip to the same general area. Pictures and tracks are then uploaded to google earth, and I have a nice package of visual data to review when deciding if I want to return and sample different locations. The 650 comes with a rechargeable battery pack, this usually last for a full day of exploring, with the screen on most of the time. When that dies I switch to 3 AA batteries and they last for multiple days of sampling/prospecting, since the unit is off when I'm digging. I figure the cost of batteries is pretty insignificant compared to the overall cost of a 4 day trip with hundreds of miles of driving there and back. The 650 is on the higher side of handheld GPS's, price wise, but what I've gained in productivity when going to new locations, I haven't regretted the purchase.
  23. 2 likes
    Sampson... This is a public forum. People post their opinions based on their observations/ life experiences. In many cases when someone asks a question they are purposely vague about details. This does not help in answering their question. Sometimes not purposely, but the questioner lacks understanding and gives misleading information in the initial question. Good luck with your project.
  24. 2 likes
    Back in November, Geowhiz wondered what was happening with Cobb Prospect; was I finished for the season? In a nutshell...things are ongoing at Cobb and my "season" never ends. It's just that what I have been doing has basically been relatively uneventful . Though of late that has begun to change, enough so that I've decided to resume documenting my endeavors. The rains of last summer played minor havoc with my claims in Fairbanks as they did Geo's in Ophir, though I was not impacted nearly to the extent many miners were statewide. Frequently I had to extricate my 4 wheeler from super saturated bogs enroute to the prospect or build makeshift bridges over my swollen little creek. But my biggest headache was incessant seepage into the shaft. And, of course, there were the never ending equipment malfunctions. As summer wound down and crisp fall weather set in it became apparent I was not going to be bringing in the gold we were counting on to help pay the bills any time soon. I had to take a job in town. About the same time my wife and I realized that wintering through in our little travel trailer was not really an option so we rented a small “wet” cabin on the banks of the Chena River at the west end of Fairbanks. I arranged my work schedule to have Friday through Sunday off so I could devote time to work the prospect. It was a welcome relief to finally have enough money to purchase some necessary equipment and supplies not the least of those being my first snow machine. I knew it wouldn't be long before my old, tired 4 wheeler wouldn't be able to manage the coming snow. A '93 Skandic II with reverse and electric start fit the bill nicely. Fairbanks got its first measurable snow, 6", at the end of October and that provided barely enough cover to operate my sled. It wasn't long before I was grinding along on bare gravel ever more frequently. You can imagine I was not enjoying my first snow machining experience and even considered selling it. Fortunately I didn't follow through with that notion. When finally the good snow cover arrived I discovered what a delightful experience snow machining can be. I bought a heavy duty Beaver plastic sled to haul stuff in and became a regular Alaska "freighter" transporting everything from fuel to lumber to wood stoves and generators from my Elliot Highway drop off down the one mile trail into the valley. The constant runoff into the shaft even as temperatures dipped below freezing inexorably built up on the walls and made the remaining opening so tight I could no longer get my bucket down. Seepage continued till the shaft was filled within 6' of the deck. Soon it was cold enough for heavy ice to form on the surface, but I was so frustrated with the whole mess I found it difficult to deal with the problem. When I finally decided to bite the bullet and do something about getting the shaft drained my chain saw came in handy in cutting the ice into manageable blocks for removal. Then the idea occurred to me to remove the ice by heating the water in the shaft with my steam coil. There was still water to be had in the pond after I broke through the ice to reset the sump pump. I was able to send steam to the bottom of the shaft for several hours before I had to shut down. I drained the system and heated the coil sufficiently to remove any remaining water. Next day saw the same procedure. The day following I turned on the high pressure water pump that feeds the coil and fired up the burner. To my extreme disgust steam began blasting from the center of the coil. I had a rupture caused by water that somehow didn’t get evacuated the previous evening and had frozen. That put an end to plans for warming the ice out. Any other plan would require a shaft drained of water , but now the hoses were partially frozen and one length was also frozen to the side of the shaft. I was able to pull the pump and one 50’ length of hose. A propane weed burner enabled me to thaw out the hose and warm up the pump but I had to get another length of hose in town before the draining could continue. Several days later and with the pump setup complete and in working order I resumed the operation. All went well and I had 30+ feet of the shaft free of water and then the pump quit. Back up the whole works came to be disassembled to determine the problem. When I couldn’t ascertain the nature of the malfunction I arranged for Ice Water Well [yes, the owners’ last name really is“Ice”] to check things out. A week later they called to tell me I needed a new motor…bearings and shaft had issues most probably caused by the strain of pumping too much mud. Another week went by before I was able to get the pump back in the shaft and get the remaining 30+ feet drained. With no clear plan to get the ice out I resumed work on the mine shacks. A friend basically gave me several thousand square feet of foil backed R8 insulation he had salvaged from an old shop building somewhere near Coldfoot [?]. The plan was to cut spruce poles for the uprights and cross members, sheath them with ½” osb, and overlay that with the insulation. Ideally the outer skin would be more ½” osb but I couldn’t afford that, but I had a long way to go before I needed to worry about what to use. Always, however, was the issue of the shaft ice hanging like an ominous cloud over my head, and I couldn’t ignore it. I could once again mechanically chip it out as I had done the previous summer and by now I had repaired the steam coil to thaw the chipped ice, but it would be useless as I had no water supply…the creek and pond were frozen solid. Sharing my dilemma with a fellow miner he suggested an electric heater suspended at the bottom of the shaft to do the melting. My generator could handle 3500 watts so I picked up two “milk house” heaters with a max output of 3000 watts. I bundled the two heaters together with a trash can lid fixed over the top to protect from dripping water and lowered them into the shaft. The 150 watt LED light at the bottom of the shaft revealed dripping water so I knew the heaters were doing their job. The problem was I could see it would probably take several months to thaw all the ice at the rate it was going. What next? I had considered sending the diesel space heater down but before I went ahead with that idea I saw a compact propane fired space heater with a btu range of 30,000 to 60,000…substantially more than the electric heaters. Since I didn’t want to send a 20lb propane bottle down in the shaft with the heater I needed to have a long supply hose. That need was filled by an old 80’ air hose I had laying around. It was a bit tricky sending down a heater, hose and electric cord suspended by a ¼” nylon rope. It worked. Even on the heater’s lowest output he water poured down the sides of the shaft. But after a couple of minutes the heater shut off. I pulled it up, relit and sent it back down about 15’. Same thing. Tried it a few more times with the same result. It became apparent the oxygen was being used up and the CO was extinguishing the flame. I connected an air line from a small compressor to the intake of the heater to supply additional oxygen but it wasn’t sufficient to keep the heater lit. I needed to either suck out the heavy CO from the shaft or force a large volume of air into the shaft. Either way I needed a large blower fan and some flexible ducting. I got a slavaged furnace fan and 6 10’ lengths of corrugated drain pipe. I first rigged the fan so as to suck the CO. No matter where I placed the ducting…on the bottom or right below the heater the flame went out after a few minutes. It was evident a large volume of air needed to be force fed to the heater, so I accomplished that with a 4 inch flange and an elbow and a few feet of bailing wire. So far I’ve run the heater for about 4 hours uninterrupted and the ice is disappearing rapidly. I’ll keep you posted how that goes. I’ve discovered the usefulness of rubber roof membrane and I determined it would be a fine exterior skin for my mine shacks. There are quite a few roofing companies in Fairbanks and I found one that had a pile of salvaged membrane I could have. It was snow covered and partially frozen to the ground and it was HEAVY. With a shovel and a 2x4 pry bar I managed to loosen the pile enough to get a tow strap attached so I could pull it free and out where I could lay it out and cut it into three manageable pieces. Well, almost manageable. Two of us could barely lift each piece into my pickup. I got a 50’ x 30’ piece for $50!! What a score. Back at the mine I realized I would have to keep the rubber skin from crushing the insulation so I accomplished that with short posts through the insulation, fixed to the inner and poles across the posts. I now have one of three shacks covered over. Much of my efforts have taken place after dark under flood lights and a headlamp. At first I was reluctant to work at night but now I have come to actually enjoy it. Here in Alaska in the winter if you wait till it’s light to get busy, you’ll not get much accomplished. I’m also learning to be adept at performing many common tasks wearing heavy gloves or mittens. It takes patience, perseverance and a little bit of idiocy to work out doors, at night in the arctic winter. Though I must concede, this has been a mighty easy going fall and winter so far up here in the great North. And from what they say, it’s supposed to remain mild for the duration. Waaaah!
  25. 2 likes
    Hi Rod, Thanks for your reply. Access to my claim is pretty good most of the way, (4x4 required for the last distance), and elevation is 5300' to 5600'. Suffice it to say, I am a seasonal miner...pretty much restricted to Summer, but sometimes I can make it up there on weekends. I look for reasons to go to the claim in the off seasons. It's amazing up there. Insofar as the current legal questions are concerned, I see mining as a legitimate and historical stakeholder for resources, among many stakeholders and interests, and one that I am willing to defend with more than just words. That said however, I believe that it can become easy to lose sight of the bigger picture when we concentrate on just our own financial and social interests. I catch myself in that trap occasionally. In fact, as an agent of Nevada State Education, a "public official" if you will, it is important that I remain on task with regards to serving all of Nevada's citizens, and not just the ones with whom I agree on social or economic issues. Being a part of the mining community provides me with an outlook and a perspective that I would most likely overlook and dismiss, were I not to have a stake in mining. In other words, in order for me to understand a miner's perspective, I need to walk a mile in a miner's boots, and weigh a troy ounce of miner's hard-earned gold, and I am going to do those things. Mining has every good reason to make it's arguments for being an important part of American culture, for being an industry that built our country, and for being a legitimate and noble vocation. I understand and recognize the concerns of other stakeholders, and I feel privileged that in America we have the right to stand up in a public forum and make our case for what we believe in. That also includes others whose interests are in opposition to our own. That's what democracy is supposed to be, and I do not advocate for any other type of government, even though democracy has it's flaws and shortcomings. It appears to me as though the courts are recognizing the importance of mining laws (Thank You Judge Ochoa), and for good reason, but in my opinion, it has to be balanced with the needs of others in our society. Clay offered a link [above] to the CA Water Control Board's "Water Rights Process", in which is included this poignant paragraph, which outlines the challenges that such laws must address: The difficulty comes in balancing the potential value of a proposed or existing water diversion with the impact it may have on the public trust. After carefully weighing the issues and arriving at a determination, the Board is charged with implementing the action which would protect the latter. The courts also have concurrent jurisdiction in this area. As with all the other pieces of the California water puzzle, allocating the limited resource fairly and impartially among many competing users represents one of the Board’s greatest challenges. Read it again. I get to make my choices about where I stand, as do others. Even though I studied Fishery/Wildlife Biology at Utah State and Oregon State, and I understand the issues they argue, I have decided to side with mining. That said, I am of the opinion that we will all be better off if we start listening to one-another, instead of being in a constant state of war (I am a service-connected disabled Vet....I hate war). I would like to see an equitable solution in the Third Appellate, because my intention is to wash gravel this Summer, and I like to see the dredgers back in the water. The mining industry has earned that right. Hell, Gold mining in the American West pretty much paid for the Civil War, which preserved our nation. America owes the mining industry a great debt. /endRant
  26. 2 likes
    Thank you Clay, It's very difficult to receive valid information about mining, especially for a noob like me. The relatively recent legal challenges, and the renewed interest in CA over water as it applies to these interests has, as you put it, created a "cranky monster". Heh. I have learned that for the most part, the mining community is very tight-lipped (for good reason I surmise), and I am grateful for your response. Fortune favors the bold, so I keep asking questions so I can learn. Your thoughtful response brings up several points; some of which I have considered, and others I have not (for which I am grateful). I know that CA has the 8th largest economy in the world, and I know that agriculture comprises a large part of that. I grew up near Chico, bucking hay and picking fruit, so I have some understanding of the importance of water to agricultural interests. I have also been reading voraciously for the past year, with great interest, about the current struggles of the mining community with regulatory agencies and other interest groups in CA. So much so, in fact, that I was convinced by the mining community's overwhelming response to the the Rinehart case, to send my eight letters for the case to be published for citation in other federal and state mining rights arguments. My name is on that list. I am delighted that many of these decisions have supported the legal assertions that federal mining rights supercede state "regulation" which have resulted in prohibition. Also, my Father was a Millwright (capitalization intentional). Mining is in my blood. (Parker Schnabel helped me realize how I need mining in my life - that kid is really something!). No, I do not possess sufficient personal resources to sustain a long legal campaign. Such battles, while important, would certainly place my family in financial difficulties, which is why I joined ICMJ and PLP (special offer), so I could contribute to Mr. Rinehart's defense and learn more about mining. I also donated $100 (10 tickets) to McCracken's (although I am not a New 49'ers member) last nugget raffle fundraiser . I didn't win, but that's okay...for me, it's not about getting the gold, it's about finding the gold. I also need to be in the forest and to shovel gravel in summer... to unwind from my job. I am a college professor (I know...some may label me "the enemy") but I happen to believe that I can hold these two seemingly contradictory thoughts in my mind: Public management entities have a solemn duty to protect resources for everyone, and mining activity is a fundamental right of American citizens. I do not believe that I must hate one side, in order to love the other. The historical and social context is far too complicated for that stance, in my opinion. The reason we have the judicial system is so we can work out these conflicts when they arise. But just because we disagree on resources use, doesn't mean we need to hate the opposition. They are people just like us, with families and struggles and well-meaning intentions...mostly. I will figure out a solution to my water needs, and I am grateful for any assistance provided by you folks. I have learned a lot this past year through research. I bought a claim, I sampled it, I am purchasing equipment to extract the minerals, (according to my lovely wife my spending has been out of control....mining is not an inexpensive pursuit*), and I continue to learn more from generous "old timers" like yourself (um..I mean... your experience, not your age I have made some mistakes, but I am truly enjoying the ride. Sorry for this long missive; my introduction to the community requires that I divulge my thoughts and intentions to the community...in order to build trust. You are correct sir, my intention is to mine. ~
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    Here are a couple of thoughts I had after hearing news of the Butte Nugget: 1. Look for gold where it has previously been found..mostly. 2. The old timers may have scoured the hills and found lots of potato-sized nuggets, but they did not have the technology or tools we have today. 3. Don't assume that large targets are trash. 4. Keep digging. 5. Hard work and "sand" are indispensable choices, but don't forget that luck can play a role. 6. Damn, that guy was lucky! "Most people miss opportunity because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." -Thomas Edison (Darnnit, I can't get the signature function to work in my settings, so this will have to do).
  28. 2 likes
    I am new to the forum. Bears...some general bromides: -Don't cook meat after dark. -Sleep in a camper or trailer. -If you sleep in a tent, keep a flash camera under your pillow. If a bear comes in, take it's photo. The flash will temporarily blind it, and you have time to get away...and you get a bonus photo to accompany your new bear story. -DO NOT keep food or toothpaste in your tent. No granola, not trail mix. No food in your tent. Can I say that again? -Camp with dogs. Black bears...not as dangerous, as was previously mentioned. In the high Sierra, they will mostly avoid you, unless they are very hungry. Be careful in Spring. Nothing as dangerous as a sow with cubs. She will chase you down. Run...or fire warning shot. That works sometimes. (be advised bears can run up to 35 MPH). Grizzly bears...Carry a sidearm... .45LC or .44mag...or larger. Single action... because you need to think for 1/2 a second before pulling the trigger. A bear's skull is thick, so aim straight down the gullet, or square in the chest. Nothing else will stop them. Shoot to kill if they come at you or stand up on you. They want food not danger. They will remember your ice chest and your location if they find a food source, especially if you have the ingredients for smores. Brian
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    Geo - I was talking about airborne EM surveys - where did I say I wasn't? You are don't seem to be aware of how geophysics is used in the search for disseminated gold deposits, so let me help you understand how this works. Generally speaking, large hydrothermal systems (like those which give rise to many disseminated type gold and gold-silver deposits, especially in Nevada) lower the bulk resistivity of the country rocks in the areas they affect by adding clay minerals and increasing porosity, permeability and pore salinity. Within these systems, the core is often more intensely silicified, and the silica infusion can increase apparent resistivity in the area affected by that silicification. The broad altered zone often forms a halo around the more intensely silicified and mineralized core. You had said earlier that you don't know what geologists contribute to the exploration process, and here you can see that the understanding of these geologic models and how these geologic systems affect the surrounding rocks, helps leads to a better understanding of how geophysics can be used to discover them. Much of geophysics is used to detect deposits indirectly. You yourself referred in this thread to buried plutons that are likely sources of gold detected by their magnetics.
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    Chris and Rod, you guys are spot on. Charles, I enjoy your posts and hope you update some of your other threads soon. ***To those who come across this thread in the years to come*** The Airborne Geophysical Surveys the State of Alaska contracts out and then provides to us for free are a great resource. But beware, when viewing the pretty colors and interesting shapes, locating a viable deposit takes a lot more work. The surveys are but one small tool in a very big tool chest and should never be the primary source of information when deciding to fund an exploration project, stake claims or worse, buy claims from someone else. Case in point, Donlin is a 39,000,000 (million) ounce AU deposit constrained to a relatively small area. Within the deposit anomalous AU is in the overburden, quartz veins and sulfides. A few years ago the State of Alaska contracted out an Airborne Geophysical Survey of the region. Later they published all the maps that were a product of the survey. The state also wrote and published an Interpretation report that contained detailed EM Anomaly maps. Question?, "Shouldn't such a large and varied AU deposit stand out like a "Smoking Gun" in at least some of the various maps?"...lets take a look and see. When viewing the various survey maps one could easily come to the conclusion that the area of the Donlin Ultimate Pit is unremarkable...no "Smoking Gun". Attached are some of the maps referenced, you be the judge. I have overlaid the outline of the Donlin Ultimate pit in each map. In some maps the pit is outlined in red, in other maps the pit is outlined in black. Tad Ref; Alaska State Geophysical website and Novagold report
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    Update; I'm getting ready to cut some helix! More to come. - Geowizard
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    Here is a photo of the little patch - the dirt in front of Steve - just to show how small an area it was. It did stretch uphill a ways behind Steve, but it was small.
  33. 2 likes
    If you are getting good gold on a second run, then 12 mesh is probably too coarse. To get the most out of the blue bowl, you need to separate by screenings the material to be treated into multiple finer size fractions. I've used mine much and if you have too broad a size mixture you will not get good recovery. I can tell you the maker recommends processing a minus 30 mesh fraction. It seems like minus 12 is not enough size fractions. This is because if you screen to 12 mesh, the flow needed to push 12 mesh black sand and rock will also blow the -30 mesh finer sized gold right out. The water speed is everything. So you have to separate out the finer material and then process it separately with slower water speeds. What you need to do depends on the amount of real fine gold you have. If you have a lot of real fine gold, like 50 mesh and smaller, You need to produce multiple fractions. So in that case I would produce a minus 12, a minus 30 and a minus 50. Then process them separately. The water speed needs to be not too fast - it is the separating force of the flowing water that separates the gold (high density) from black and blonde sands (lower density). Smaller fractions can be processed at slower speeds. If for some reason you don't have a lot of minus 50 gold you may be able to get away with two products, a minus 12 and a minus 30 (and still do them separately with appropriate water speeds. ) My experience is that when you do this properly, you should find the tailings from proper treatment with the blue bowl to be nearly barren.
  34. 2 likes
    One important clue is knowing where to look for the maps! - Geowizard
  35. 2 likes
    I think what geowizard said has a high value, but if your goal is to never see a bear, I don't really think that is possible. There is no magic formula to make bears stay away. Being aware and taking proper steps are the best way to deal with them. Bear don't like dogs. Maybe keep a few with you. There is no way the dongs could defeat the bear, but its a instinct thing that bears would rather avoid dogs. However dogs or not, if a bear decides to come into your camp, he will.
  36. 2 likes
    "Do others beside me consider you insane?" No, no I don't. Bears are opportunistic omnivores. I've lived, worked and played in bear country all my life (60+ years). The only bears that really scare me are unattended cubs. Let them know your in the area and they will avoid you just as you want to avoid them. Keep your food and cooking area some distance from your camp and work site. Don't camp next to trails. Practice situational awareness. "You know a grizzly will kill you right? There's not enough gold on your claim to warrant the risk. So, I wonder what you're thinking." Stargatetraveler faces a greater risk on the highway traveling to and from his claim. "Fear is the mind killer." Frank Herbert, "Dune" It would appear at least one person fears adventure. Packaged tours are just mobile museums. Did you sample his claim to determine the profit/risk profile? How much would be enough gold? What were you thinking posting such a snarky comment? eric
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    Thanks for the compliment Geowizard. From your website (and Alaska Mapper), I can see you are a very busy person. I don't know where you find the time to write so much, but it speaks volumes of your good character (so that others can enjoy and maybe even learn). Your posts on the mine at Ophir are very interesting and provoke much thought (and spreadsheet analysis )! Keep the rocks moving and hope you find another Nugget Patch, Mike
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    I would not mind finding a beauty like this! http://www.hngn.com/home/news/services/print.php?article_id=28887
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    It's Sunday morning and the snow outside my window high in the Colorado Rockies keeps getting deeper and deeper. I feel in the mood to reminisce on my Alaska prospecting experience, maybe the next best thing to actually being up there. In 2005, after reading Norma Cobb's book "Arctic Homestead", I knew I had to get to Alaska somehow. I was already into dredging here in Colorado but I wanted more excitement and better gold, so I commenced doing my research on the last real frontier. A good start came in my joining the Alaska Gold Forum and I absorbed just about everything I read. That lead me to the Alaska Resource Data Files [ARDF] where I homed in on specific areas of interest. Since the Cobb adventures took place in the Eureka/Manley Hot Springs area, that became my focal point. It wasn't long before I was becoming conversant in Alaska geography, geology, and culture even if it was from my home 3000 miles distant. By the end of the summer of 2005 I could stand the anticipation no longer. I suggested to my wife, Alethea, that we take advantage of some low plane fares and take a quick, week trip up to Alaska to see some of the things we had been reading about. I need to mention here that Alethea had read Norma's book first and had been reading other books on Alaska pioneers and remote living in the wild north country. It had been her long held desire to live a homesteading life, so it didn't take any arm twisting to convince her to make the trip to see the land she', too, had been dreaming about for many years. Bill Bohan was my first real contact with Alaska and more specifically with the Fairbanks region. We had corresponded and made arrangements to get together once we got up there. I had been fascinated with his tales of air boating to his claims on Ottertail Creek in the upper Chena drainage. So, fittingly, it was a wild ride on that airboat and a day of working Bill's 10" dredge that comprised my first true Alaska adventure. And I even returned with some gold to boot. During that rainy, cold week with the birches turning gold beneath the ever present low hanging clouds, we ventured out the Elliot highway to Eureka to find Lost Creek Ranch, the Cobb's homestead. To seasoned Alaskans driving 80 miles on a gravel road with almost no signs of civilization is no big deal. Yet for two chechakos from Colorado, it was akin to leaving Earth to visit the moon. We never found the homestead...drove right past it and dead ended on the Rampart Road where Granite Creek passes under an inconguous state-of-the-art concrete bridge. We knew, however, that we were in the vicinity of Lost Creek and that alone fed our spirits. We would be back. Over the winter, back in the lower 48, we began formulating plans to return to Alaska for the summer. I had purchased an older 32' Airstream travel trailer and a fine '93 Dodge 1 ton, diesel, 4wd, dual wheeled flatbed truck to make the trip. In between my full time work as a furniture restorer I built a 7' x 10' box on the flat bed. But it was no ordinary box. It could be completely disassembled into panels that could be loaded on a trailer an hauled into the bush. It had a roll up corrugated steel door big enough to accommodate a 4 wheeler, a man door and an extendable top that could be raised to have a wrap around window on three sides that was insect, weather and bear [maybe]proof. And to do the transporting into the bush I had to have a 4 wheeler. I found an almost new 2004 Polaris 400 that had been rolled and severely damaged that I picked up for $1500. It was mostly frame parts that needed replacing or straightening and armed with a good repair manual I was up for the task of rebuilding the machine. It took me about 5 months and $1100 in parts to complete the job but by spring I was bouncing around our property learning how to handle the amazing beast. Most importantly, my evenings were spent in serious research to find likely places to prospect. My search included territory from the junction of the Tanana and Yukon rivers eastward to the White Mountains. Serpentine Ridge and the Tofty area above Manley was high priority as were the drainages around Eureka. I didn't spend much time investigating the immediate Fairbanks area as I had been told that there was really no decent claimable ground to be staked. I became very proficient at using the DNR's and recorder's office online files and by July I had a couple of notebooks filled with maps, creek and bench geology, regulations and prospecting and mining information. We left Colorado in early July, the big red Dodge towing the Airstream with the 4 wheeler trailer behind it. Bringing up the rear was Alethea driving our old GMC "Jimmy" with a 17' aluminum canoe on top. Quite the train, and illegal too, which we weren't aware of till we were far up into BC. It was a marvelous trip but not without its mishaps. Most notable took place as we were nearing Dease Lake, B.C.. Doing about 55 mph down a long hill I felt a jolt with an accompanying loud scraping noise. Somehow the Airstream had become disconnected. Fortunately, and in large part due to having dual wheels, I was able to bring the truck and trailers to a stop thanks to the safety chains keeping the two vehicles joined. Turns out I had forgotten to change out trailer balls before we left Colorado. With a bit of rough road the 2" ATV trailer ball I had been using before the trip was not sufficient for the 2 3/8" Airstream hitch. A passing motorist stopped and happened to have the proper sized ball in his tool box which he kindly gave us. With the right ball and some wood blocks we got the trailer rehitched and we were on our way, a bit rattled but no worse for the wear except for 6" of trailer jack ground off. Upon arriving in Fairbanks we spent a few days at the Tanana Valley Campground before resuming our journey back out to Eureka. By now we had determined where exactly was Lost Creek Ranch and our first Alaska bush campsite was a wide spot in the Minook Creek valley/ Rampart road. A few miles before we reached that destination we stopped to chat with the occupants of a pickup headed the opposite direction hoping to get more information. The driver happened to be one of the main characters in Norma Cobb's book, life long miner John Shilling. He was cordial but reserved, probably suspecting we were just another couple of "end of the roaders" not likely to be seen again. The most valuable piece of advice came from another valley resident. Mark Exeter, another miner with whom I had corresponded, forwarned us that if we camped anywhere near Lost Creek Ranch Les Cobb would inevitably pay us a visit to determine who was poking around his territory. It would be in our best interest to have a bottle of Jack Daniels to share with him when he showed up. We didn't have anything to grease the wheels, so to speak, but did pick up a pint the next time we were in Fairbanks. Well, just as Mark had warned, it wasn't long befor Les pulled up in his pickup to find out what we were up to. We invited him in and offered him a drink, which, of course, he accepted. He was nothing like the person we had read about in Arctic Homestead. Instead of the brash, wild eyed, woodsman/miner/big game guide, this Alaskan, now in his 50's, was uncharacteristically mellow and welcoming. The relief and elation Alethea and I both felt at being accepted by the "patriarch" of the Minook Valley was immeasurable. To be continued
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    Cool... that means within 2 years, we could be looking at $2000 an ounce. Gotta love GS and the way they continually manipulate the media and their clients... errr I mean their muppets.
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    Nice Job Rod, let's get you up to Idaho next year to do a little dredging.......I've seen a few dredges on the Salmon River but I think the EPA has most of us worried about getting cited......Should be out dredging this weekend since the government is shut down and therefore no EPA Nazis on the river.....
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    Gold mining, or for that matter any type of mining, has a built in cost of production. Those costs can be affected by management decisions or by rises in the cost of materials, labor or permitting but by and large those costs are built in by the time actual mining begins. Suppose the market price of gold is $1,500 per troy ounce. Suppose the miner's cost of production for that delivered Troy ounce is $1,300. If the gold market drops to $1,400 then the miner's profits are cut in half. If the market price is reduced to $1,300 the miner is out of business no matter how rich his strike or how much time or money he has invested. When gold prices are rising every dollar of rise in the price is 100% profit for the profitable mine. It looks real good when it's rising but investors get real nervous when it's dropping because they see each dollar lost as coming directly out of their profit. Add in hedging, junior investments and forward sales and it becomes obvious that even the smallest difference in the market price of gold is going to affect mining sentiment directly. Considering each major country has gold reserves as part of their financial makeup and those countries have direct control over the interest rates, quantity of currency in circulation and commodities market regulation (including margins) it becomes clear that the price of gold and the resultant profitability of mining are largely controlled by political policy and considerations in each country with a hand in the pie. In my opinion the market pricing of gold is almost strictly a political matter and has very little, if anything, to do with actual supply and demand by consumers and users. Betting on anything other than the general price trend for a political commodity is delusional in my experience. There is no "free market" in gold unless you consider a local market among gold producers and users. As anyone who trades in physical gold knows the COMEX paper market does not represent the market for physical gold in hand. Two different animals.
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    Here's a link to an image of the highbank stratification: - Geowizard
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    Thanks, Joe I'm a real fan of early miners and are fascinated by their equipment, methods and skills, so it's fun to emulate them and keep the mining simple [with a few modern conveniences]. Almost daily I am blown away by the tenacity, work ethic and vision of those guys who went after the gold a hundred years ago. I couldn't stand with them in their ranks but I am honored to be considered of like spirit. Today we passed the 50' mark and still no bottom in sight. When I get weary of jack hammering ice and frozen muck in my cramped little shaft and hoisting bucket after bucket I just think of the guys before me who put down that shaft in the winter using fires to thaw the overburden and ultimately the gravel. My partner just discovered another prospect shaft about 200 yards from where Cobb shaft. First pan from its dump pile was barren but we'll be checking it out more thoroughly later in the summer. And equipment nightmares continue with the loss of my trash pump engine. Fortunately I have another engine that's just waiting for a chance to do some work.
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    We are all taught in school about how the government is here to help us, etc. and in some ways that's true. However the government is mostly about politics and federal politics especially has little to do with actually helping citizens. Its about control of the masses, money for lawyers and politicians, agendas, control of the media, political prestige and recognition, big egos, etc. - nothing of which has anything remotely to do with any aspect of common sense.
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    I called Idaho to get the permit as a resident advised me, and asked if it was ok not to list the specific site I was working and write "ALL OPEN WATERS" and they said no. I told them the permit should be good for anywhere and not what sites I list because I do not know where I will be in rugged terrain or who's claim I may lease. They said in that case I'm supposed to call and notify them. They want to come check on me...I said I'll be fine.....don't bother... What a bunch of BS. So I'm supposed to get verbal approval when I move? I told her nevermind... I'll keep my $30 and mine under the 1872 Mining Law...
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    I feel for K Rose on this one. He asked a specific question. "Anybody out there versed in using iodide as leach? I need a little more info on using an acid buffer during oxidation and precipitation." After reading this thread I also would be feeling like I was getting grilled if I was in his shoes.
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    Arctic... You have hit upon the bane of the suction dredge design. Necessary water need for suction and material handling, but what to do with all that water once it hits the recovery system. It seems to me suction dredges are designed to more material, not for gold recovery. Otherwise they would have a classification system PRIOR to the recovery, not IN the recovery system. If you read Randy Clarkson's original radiotracer study http://www.scribd.com/doc/61880538/The-Clarkson-Study-Fine-Gold-Recovery You will read an important observation on page 14. "Initial Concentration- a high concentration of gold in the first few feet of sluice run is not a good indicator of recovery efficiency. Tracer tests revealed that sluiceboxes with overall recoveries of less than 30% still had most of the recovered gold in the first few feet of the sluice run" So, that tells us this first few feet is critical ! Not 10 feet down the box. You should be thinking " how can I optimize this first few feet" ? Gold wants to settle. You need to give it the chance. That won't be accomplished by adding length to the same turbulent flow. Just my opinion ... but it ought to give you something to chew on.
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    Chris, My wife and I are chomping at the bit to be on our way back to the Fairbanks area to resume working our underground permafrost placer prospect. Spring is coming very slowly up there and we don't want to jump the gun [not sure if that's an acceptable term] and find a frozen, snow covered work site [we're old and a bit wussy], so we're going to shoot for [oh, that's not p.c.]...how 'bout..aim for... that's not good either...Hells bells..we're going to leave end of April from our equally frozen, snowy home at 10,350' in the Colorado Rockies and arrive early May. With the help of my partner, Driftminer Doug Sherrer, we're going to steam pay gravel at two different locations on our claims. The one site is about 60' to bed rock and the smaller prospect is probably about 30' [still deicing the old shaft so I don't know the exact depth]. We'll be posting photos and videos of the progress during the mining season. Stay tuned. Flint