Ask The Experts: Is there a safe DIY alternative to cyanide or mercury for extraction?
September 2016 by Chris Ralph
Q: With safety as a given, what can the average miner, or Joe-blow greenhorn do to identify and extract some metals or minerals with off-the-shelf products or natural ingredients?
Silver refining has been used from ancient times to change the characteristics of the metal. Early metallurgists refined silver by heating it a couple hundred degrees above its melting point and holding the metal at an elevated temperature for a period of time.
It’s accepted knowledge that wet methods will recover more fine gold than dry methods and processing the gravel as a whole will get more gold than only using a metal detector. The question is how much more?
Because these crevices catch and hold gold so well, it's worthwhile to learn how they form, which ones are good for catching gold and which ones are not.
Most small-scale miners want to know how they can set up a system much more cheaply. The difficulty is in the balance of putting together a decent small-scale system at a reasonable cost.
At one time or another, many miners will look seriously at purchasing a mining claim...Usually it’s a significant financial commitment, so how do you know if you are getting a good deal?
This explains the large difference in particle sizes between placers and hydrothermal lode deposits, but also means that while the mining may be similar in some cases, the sampling and recovery techniques are usually quite different.
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