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Dec 31, 2012

"Gold is where you find it"

Firstly a little bit of an introduction, I've been prospecting for about six months now and recently started posting progress on the chat thread over in AI. I find a bit of gold near on every day as well as other interesting things like old coins.
The area I'm in is one of the most nugget rich areas in the entire world and has produced the Welcome stranger, the Hand of Faith and many other very large nuggets. Apparently some bloke just run the Stranger over with his cart, I'm not that lucky but I know a bit.

First things first, laws and safety:
Check your local laws if you want to go out prospecting, around here they're pretty simple; get a miners right, dig everything by hand, no power tools allowed, refill your holes and no dredging. There's more detail than that but it pretty much covers it. Your local mines department or forestries or someone like that should be able to point you in the right direction, provide information on where you can go and so on.

Safety: DON'T loving gently caress WITH MINEHOLES!!

Well not unless you know what you're doing anyway.

Look there's lots of dangers out in the bush, snakes and so on, if you're not sure what you're doing then take someone who knows. Specific to prospecting though is mine hole subsidence, basically people wanted nice smooth ground instead of a moonscape with bloody great holes in it so they pushed the dirt back in the holes, the holes are still there, you just can't see them anymore, here watch this video.

If a hole starts to open up nearby don't poke it, just back away slowly. Some of them are more than 100 feet deep. Don't get too close to the edge and watch where you're walking not all holes have big piles around them, you won't see them until you're right on top.

Alright then, on to the good poo poo.
Tools and Methods of prospecting in the 21st century:
The basics are a pair of eyes, half a brain and strangely a computer. You're not going to get far if you don't read up on where you intend to go, as the geology and location of gold differs all over the world.
For the average prospector there are four basic methods; specking, wet, dry and electronic.
Specking is simple, you crawl around nose down arse up looking for gold on the surface. Sounds unlikely, but apparently there a people around here who get good gold doing it. I've never really tried though and don't know all that much about it, but I can probably find out if you're interested.
Dry involves the same basic ideas as wet but uses air to move lighter material, usually a dry washer is used. Again, I donít know a huge amount about this area but can find out more.
Anyway thatís it for today, If people seem interested I'll pump out some posts on my own methods and finds, or go into more detail about wet prospecting and detecting. Sorry this is a bit short I'm kind of busy right now but I'll do my best to answer any questions, and I'll add some pictures too, just as soon as Imgur lets me actually upload the blasted things.


Mar 20, 2009

Interesting topic. I guess the current price of gold makes this feasible. What's the rough value of gold you'd find in a month? How so you ensure you sell it for a good price?

Dec 31, 2012

The rough amount of gold can be anywhere between 0 and about a troy ounce (31 grams), the value is variable depending on the type of gold. A nice nugget can go for significantly more than its worth by weight, people use them as jewelry.
There are a few ways to sell by weight, firstly just go to to the local prospecting shop they usually pay spot price (the current gold value) less about 10-20%. Otherwise some banks buy it for similar figures or you can send it to a refiners, who buy at spot price less a fixed processing fee usually a couple of hundred dollars.

Selling jewelry grade pieces is a different matter, the best way is to try and cultivate a regular buyer. doing this can get a regular 20-30% over spot price. Otherwise you can try Ebay, I've seen smaller pieces go for twice spot value. I'l dig some photos up later today and put together a post on gold types.

Orange Sunshine
May 10, 2011

If you were to add up the hours you've spent prospecting (not including in the very beginning when you probably didn't know what you were doing), and the money you've made from it, how much are you actually making per hour?

Lord Windy
Mar 26, 2010

Do you do it for fun or for profit?

Dec 31, 2012

I do it for both, at the moment I'm actually still getting my own methods down.Up until the last month or so the hourly would have been measured in cents, however I've recently changed my approach and yesterday would probably have been about 10-15 an hour.
One of the reasons I started this thread is that the best way to refine your thoughts on a subject once you reach a certain point is to teach other people what you know.
I'm off to put together a couple of posts and hopefully teach you guys a bit about finding some gold.

Dec 31, 2012

16 Grams, the first nugget I ever found.

alright so this post is on metal detecting, otherwise known as nugget shooting or electronic prospecting, firstly types of metal detectors you might find around the place and what the strengths and weaknesses are.
PI metal detectors:

This is one of my detectors, the venerable and ancient (mid 80s) Minelab SD2000. At the time of its release these units actually started a small gold rush of their own, the capabilities being that much better for australian soils than anything that had come before.
This is known as a pulse induction metal detector and handles mineralised soils, hot rocks and things like that very well, it operates by sending powerful, short bursts of current through a coil of wire. Each pulse generates a brief magnetic field. When the pulse ends, the magnetic field reverses polarity and collapses very suddenly, resulting in a sharp electrical spike. This spike lasts a few microseconds and causes another current to run through the coil. This current is called the reflected pulse and is extremely short, lasting only about 30 microseconds. Another pulse is then sent and the process repeats. A typical PI-based metal detector sends about 100 pulses, if the metal detector is over a metal object, the pulse creates an opposite magnetic field in the object. When the pulse's magnetic field collapses, causing the reflected pulse, the magnetic field of the object makes it take longer for the reflected pulse to completely disappear. This process works something like echoes: If you yell in a room with only a few hard surfaces, you probably hear only a very brief echo, or you may not hear one at all; but if you yell in a room with a lot of hard surfaces, the echo lasts longer.

unfortunately these have very little effective discrimination, which means you spend a lot of time digging stuff like this:

Although occasionally you also find things like this:

a 1917 silver florin, which brings me to the other common type of detector, Very low frequency.
VLF detectors:

My other detector,a discovery 3300, which I'm still waiting for delivery on. Generally these detectors are used for relic hunting, they don't have the depth capacity of PI machines, especially in Australias highly mineralised soils. however, they have there place in gold prospecting as they tend to be very sensitive to small, shallow gold which the PI units cant see. They can also be used for electronic loaming which is the primary reason I bought this one, and I'll explain how that works when I cover loaming later on.

Where to go detecting:
The best place to start would be somewhere gold is known to be, so look for old diggings for a start. The old timers missed huge amounts of gold and you'll find it in and around there diggings, check the mulloch heaps (the piles of materials they pulled out of the holes) and the surrounding areas.Moving out from there, start looking for flat areas on hillsides, dry creekbeds and areas of exposed reef or bedrock.
Swing slowly and keep the detectors coil as close to the ground as you can and when you find a target, move around 90 degrees and check again to pinpoint its location before you dig. As you dig, regularly check your hole (every six inches to a foot) until the targets in the pile beside the hole. When you've got the target out of the hole, pass your detector over the pile, garb the bit that beeps and run it over the top of your coil, slowly reducing the amount of material until you know whether its a nail or a piece of gold, then put it in your pocket and refill your hole. Don't chuck trash back down the hole, you'll just end up finding it again months later.

Super Aggro Crag
Apr 23, 2008

Miatas suck...

This is sweet. After I saw your post in AI and I did a little research and it looks like the only gold found here is glaciel gold and it is few and far between.

Aggressive pricing
Feb 25, 2008

Is there much competition over spots? I can imagine going out and finding a cantankerous old cout with a blunderbuss warning me to "Git off mah claim!"

Dec 31, 2012

Their's a bit of secrecy, but not too much competition around my area at least. Occasionally you get people watching you trying to figure out your spot so they can clean it out after you're gone but mostly people tend to be pretty good about it.

Super Aggro Crag posted:

This is sweet. After I saw your post in AI and I did a little research and it looks like the only gold found here is glaciel gold and it is few and far between.

I actually came across a bit of information on glacial gold last night, don't know if you saw this in your research or not . It's from 1905, texts like these are usually really useful if you're prospecting. Sometime in the next day or two I'm going to put up a post on building a cradle, which would probably be a pretty good retrieval tool for glacial gold. You should give a local prospecting club a call, there's usually someone happy to take interested people out for a day or two and help them get started.

Lincoln`s Wax
Apr 30, 2000
Take Ģe blode of hym and do no gode.

Had a very close family friend that was big into prospecting. He was a member of the GPAA (for folks in the US- you get a pretty handy catalog of areas to hunt and other stuff. The guys that run the GPAA have a show on the outdoor channel called Gold Fever, it's a pretty cute and light-hearted show about prospecting that also happens to be really informative). He did most of his work around northern georgia, following streams and creeks and did okay enough but before he passed away I asked him about it being enough to live on and he said that 90% of the younger people who get a few thousand dollars worth of gear and plan to make their living prospecting usually wind up living out of their cars and dead broke- that's why you can find used gear for really good prices. He said the others he had met that actually make a living at it basically write the books on roughing it and if living in a pop-up camper eating canned beans while busting your rear end for 16 hours a day seems ideal, go for it. He was single and retired and geology and prospecting were hobbies for him.

The most interesting stuff was his stories about going out west and I guess that the mines out there deteriorate at a much slower rate so crazy people still regularly go into them and I guess that as far as competitive/secrecy goes, there were some really bad characters out there (at least in the 80's) that would not hesitate to kill someone if they got too close to their mine. I'm hoping it's not the same now but I'm sure there are still some crazies out there.

If you're on the east coast of the US and anywhere near northern Georgia, there are lots of places to try panning and actual mining camps that rent out rooms. He had some high end detectors but digging dirt out from bedrock and panning it was really fun for me.

Super Aggro Crag
Apr 23, 2008

Miatas suck...

I sent an email to my local GPAA chapter to see if they could show me the ropes. What kind of tools and materials do yiu generally use? I saw a cool wet/dry gold pump online for $300+ but I can't really afford that.

Dec 31, 2012

Start with a pan, a pick and a shovel. If you can cover it Garrett has a pretty good pan called the super sluice pan, should be about 30 over there. The gold recovery pumps are usually just yabby pumps, you can make them out of PVC pipe with a tennis ball for the plunger.
If you're going crevicing take a long wire hook for scraping at the bottom of the crevice, and little prybar you can hammer on for opening them out. Don't forget to take something to pick up material from smaller crevices either, a spoon or a garden trowel or whatever's handy should do.
This is a pretty good video on panning (well he's a lot better at it than I am anyway):
If you're getting someone to take you out, they'll probably bring along anything more specialised for the day, but they'll definitely appreciate if you have some gear of your own. Good luck, I expect to see some colour when you get back.
I'll put up a post on crevicing, and another on building and using a gold cradle tomorrow sometime.

Dec 31, 2012

Lincoln`s Wax posted:

before he passed away I asked him about it being enough to live on and he said that 90% of the younger people who get a few thousand dollars worth of gear and plan to make their living prospecting usually wind up living out of their cars and dead broke- that's why you can find used gear for really good prices. He said the others he had met that actually make a living at it basically write the books on roughing it and if living in a pop-up camper eating canned beans while busting your rear end for 16 hours a day seems ideal, go for it. He was single and retired and geology and prospecting were hobbies for him.

Not too sure about making a living off it, but if you get good at it and find some decent spots it can be a pretty decent income supplement and as you know its actually pretty fun.

Apr 1, 2009

"I swear I never said was the autocorrect!"

Not gonna lie, kind of intrigued. Looking into getting into this as kind of way for meditation you know? I'd want to go to creeks and rivers and pan there, using hand held tools and not paying a shitload of money for this. So I have a couple of questions.

Is it preferable to pan and find a good spot with gold, fill up my buckets and take them home?
How do you find a good spot near rivers and creeks?
Would I need anything besides a pan or two, a shovel and a 5 gallon bucket?
Even though I am not looking to go big, what would be the best advice you could give a beginner?
What do you think of those concentrates you can buy on eBay (spent 2 hours on YouTube and saw that)?
Is the whole process relaxing, or do you find it tedious?

Currently, I have two plans with the gold I hope to find. Melt the gold into enough to make a ring for my wife, and keep the gold and eventually sell it when I want to buy a new toy (see camera lens). But even if I don't find anything I'm Hoping it can give me a sense of relaxation and peace of mind.

Edit: how important is it to classify your pay dirt?

Soulex fucked around with this message at Aug 3, 2014 around 21:12

Dec 31, 2012

I tend to try and work on the spot as much as possible, you'd be surprised how heavy a bucket of dirt feels by the time you've trekked it two or three k's back to the car. Classifying's always a good idea if you're planning to process more than a pan or two, and you can pick up classifiers that sit on your pan or bucket just don't forget to check for nuggets and specimens before you empty the classifier.

I haven't tried the paydirt you can buy, honestly if you want a guaranteed find try panning material from mullock heaps at old diggings you'll be amazed how much they missed. As far as equipment you've pretty much got it covered, just grab a snuffer bottle, a pair of tweezers, a geologists hammer, a little trowel or something, and something to put your finds in and you're set to go.

Best advice is to take your time and relax, and put a couple of shotgun pellets painted nice and bright in your pan, if you can keep them there then you're doing it right. It's definitely a relaxing process, and they sound like pretty good goals for your gold. I'm slowly putting aside a little bit every time to make wedding rings for my fiance and myself.

Reading a stream, Loaming and Sampling:
Alright, you've asked a big question here, but it's not hard to understand the answer. As well as telling you what I know, I'm going to suggest some more indepth reading material that's aimed at finding the sources of gold and patches in an area.

So, start by looking at the inside of bends in the stream and anywhere else where the water speed or pressure slows down, this is where you're gold will drop out. The important thing to remember here is that gold is heavy, it'll want to drop as soon as it can, good spot are on the lee side of any obstruction (stumps, big rock etc.), anywhere there's a build up of heavier material like gravel bars, the inside of bends, potholes in the stream bed (especially if they're filled with cemented clays and gravel, you may just get onto a bonanza if you can find one of these) and places like that.

Flat benches above the current course are well worth sampling as well, usually the stream or river used to flow through and anything it left behind is landlocked now. I generally use a little nine inch pan for sampling that fits in my bucket as quite often I'm sampling dry creeks and other spots with limited water supplys.

Start by taking samples wherever it looks like the water slows down, if you're creek is flowing then chuck a stick and just watch it for a little while, this'll give you a good idea of whats going on. When you find some colour, start sampling in two or three feet intervals either side of it, and above and below it to determine the edges of the streak. Remember if you're using a little pan then one fleck is roughly equivalent to half a dozen in the larger pan.

Once you've figured out where the gold is, it's time for a bit of hard yakka. Dig down onto the bedrock if you can and start processing, clean out any crevices as far as you can, a geologists hammer and teaspoon are handy for this. The crevices and little potholes will hide the best gold and I've seen nuggets upwards of an ounce come out of crevices that have closed over almost completely and you would have been sure nothing could fit. Another good spot is under any boulders or in amongst tree roots, especially if you find gold near them.

I generally take three or four samples any where that looks likely in a creek or river, on dry land I loam. To loam take along a bucket you can fit your pan in and a bottle of clean water for looking at the last little bit in the bottom of the pan. Start where you put down the bucket, take a shovel full straight off the top, and then a shovel full a meter a meter away in each direction, like so:

here here here

here bucket here

here here here

then move along another couple of meters to the next spot, when you find colour (even just a speck) start working methodically across the slope, marking the extent of the run to either side of you (I shove little flouro tent pegs in the holes where I get colour).
Once you've worked out the horizontal extents do the same thing a meter or so up and down the slope and continue until the colours stop showing. you should end up with something that looks roughly like an inverted U shape with a cluster of holes which show a lot more gold at or near the top ( Gold will actually travel up a slope, so don't forget to look downslope from the initial sample, you'd hate to miss a hundred ounce patch!). This is your patch, or even possibly a reef.

A similar process applies to creek beds, methodically work your way up them looking in likely spots until the gold disappears, then go
back to where you last picked up some gold and start loaming along both banks.

Once I've found a run or patch, I usually go over it with a detector to clear out any bigger stuff, but you don't really need to.

Alright some recommended reading (Yay! homework, I love research):
Streams of gold - A.W. Jackson
Reading a Stream
Loaming for Gold - Sam J. Cash

Start with Reading a stream (it's free), it covers a huge amount on how heavy material works in a stream. As far as finding the source or a patch though Sam Cash's book is basically considered to be a bible, the man found over a hundred mines in Western Aus using the methods I've detailed above.

I Haven't actually read Streams of Gold yet (I really need too), but its highly recommended as being the most indepth text on alluvial deposition thats usable by someone who hasn't spent twenty years as a geologist. I haven't, presumably if I had then I could just go "dig here, there's gold" and come up with a thousand ounces, and I'd be too busy getting rich to tell you anything.

Aug 24, 2010

Fun Shoe

Just chiming in to say that I think this is a fascinating hobby and I'm surprised to hear there's still so much gold coming out of the ground in the hands of individual prospectors. I grew up in California Gold Rush country and even tried panning once or twice (at those wild-westy 'historical' spots ), it's fun for an afternoon if anyone just wants to give it a shot. I found a garnet that got turned into some now-lost jewelry. Anyway cool thread OP, thanks.

Dec 31, 2012

Chard posted:

Just chiming in to say that I think this is a fascinating hobby and I'm surprised to hear there's still so much gold coming out of the ground in the hands of individual prospectors. I grew up in California Gold Rush country and even tried panning once or twice (at those wild-westy 'historical' spots ), it's fun for an afternoon if anyone just wants to give it a shot. I found a garnet that got turned into some now-lost jewelry. Anyway cool thread OP, thanks.

It's definitely still out there, yeah. You bring up a good point I should have mentioned earlier, depending on your region other precious metals and minerals are available, you should check for this when you're doing your own research. I could go to Queensland or possibly Gippsland to get diamonds for example.

Edit: diamonds not diomands

bend fucked around with this message at Aug 5, 2014 around 02:24

Super Aggro Crag
Apr 23, 2008

Miatas suck...

Can you tell me about sluicing? I was at a gorge today and talked to a couple dudes sluicing. They said there are some flakes there. I grabbed a couple rocks with flakes in them but IDK if they are gold, pyrite or mica.


Dec 31, 2012

Okay, Sluicing uses the turbulence created by the riffles in the sluice to allow the heavier stuff to drop. Same basic principle as looking ahead of boulders in a stream. Same as panning it's a lot easier if your material's classified, but you can run around 10-20x what you can in a pan in the same amount of time.

The basic technique's pretty simple, you set up your sluice in the stream and start chucking your material on the slick plate at the top, in theory you just keep going until the riffles are filled with gold. Technical considerations are slope (1 inch of run to about a foot of range in most units), water speed (Too fast and the material won't drop out) and as always what to do about the damned clay.

Water speed's easier to handle than you'd think, use rocks to direct the flow coming into the sluice and adjust the slope once it's pretty near the right speed, if you stick your finger in front of a riffle it should feel like a small engine vibrating away.

If you feed too much at once and block the flow you'll lose some heavies, any other disturbances to the flow will lose some as well so be careful of that. Your flow should erode around the sides of the material just gently dragging it away without any great big clumps coming off. To get your gold out put a bucket at the end of the sluice and then tip the whole thing and rinse everything into your bucket, this is your concentrates, consisting of all the heavies (hopefully) out of however much you put through. On a hobby sized sluice it should be about a pans worth for every 20-40 litres of material fed, at least in my experience, then you just pan it off.

Clay needs to be broken up as thoroughly as you can manage, a ball of it going down the sluice absolutely will pick up a huge amount of gold. It behaves like this for the same reason toner stains so badly, the electrostatic charge makes it sticky, you can reduce this effect with various chemicals in a recirculating unit at home, but it's not a good idea in a stream as it tends to stiff up the local ecosystem just a bit flooding it with detergents or worse.

As to your rocks you can do an acid test with hydroflouric or nitric acid or you you can do a hardness test. The hardness test is a much bettter option generally as acid in general tends to be loving dangerous if mishandled. Use the tip of a knife or an awl to press firmly against the flakes, if they bend or dent they're probably gold, if they flake into little pieces they're probably something else. If I'm still not sure I generally take them to a prospecting shop and get their opinion, before I gently caress around with acids. You can also use brickies (hydrochloric) acid (much safer) but ask around before you do, their's a few types of fools gold it won't really do that much too apparently, if their common locally then it may not help you that much though.

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