Common Operations—Small-Scale Mining and Sharing the "Take"
March 2006 by Jim StraightThe “Forty-niners,” known as “Argonauts,” separated the loose gold known as “wet diggin’s” from the river gravels using a wash pan. The pan was made of tin or iron and had a flat bottom and sloping sides.
What a month! It seemed as if one headline after another dwelled on one, and only one subject, that of the environmentalists’ concern over “global warming.” Politicians changed directions, mass demonstrations were held, Al Gore moved to the top of the media hit parade, and lawmakers were warming up to the task of revolutionizing our lives with torrents of new laws, regulations and policies.
Last month we witnessed numerous news items that appear to confirm a new, and perhaps ominous, trend in America’s relationships with the rest of the world. We are referring to a visible increase in America’s vulnerability to foreign actions.
With gold hovering above $650 an ounce, interest in panning and prospecting for the pricey precious metal in northern Idaho’s icy streams and on its rugged mountainsides has enjoyed a mini-boom.
These gifts of nature are all unique to say the least. Any large nugget is an added blessing to the long toiling hours a miner puts in on his claim. Each golden clunker found is an added bonus. And each big one found will be discussed around the dinner table, or the fireplace.
The hair stood up on the back of my neck when I saw this, especially the nice patches of wash in the bottoms of the gullies, a sure sign of an auriferous source being nearby.
Every placer miner has to deal with it in one form or another, and some locations have it far worse than others, but nearly every placer has at least some of it: black sand. It collects in our concentrates and gets in the way of recovering our fine gold.
The Bawl Mill • A Word from the Editor • Basic Geology for the Independent Miner—Part III Understanding Plate Tectonics, Volcanism and Mountain Building • The Fortymile Goldfields • The Rocks that Burn—Part II Is Oil Shale the Answer? • Record Interest at Recent Mining Conventions • Trout Thriving In Treated Mine Water • Company Notes • Melman on Gold & Silver • Mining Stock Quotes and Mineral & Metal Prices