June 2021 by Scott Harn
I had the opportunity to attend the Public Lands for the People (PLP) get together near Randsburg, California in late April/early May.
Over 100 prospectors gathered for three days of detecting, drywashing and camaraderie, along with some updates on what PLP has been doing on behalf of miners.
It was a very interesting and historical piece of property of about 140 acres offered up for use by PLP board member Bill Samarin of Mad Mining. Samarin said the property had been thoroughly tested and sampled by the US Army back during WWII for scheelite, the primary ore of tungsten, but even though gold is known to be prevalent in this area, gold content was ignored because that was not the goal at the time. Large equipment was deployed to scrape the area down to bedrock. As a result, there were countless piles of material throughout the property as the Army went through much of the area and sampled for scheelite. It was ultimately determined that the amount of scheelite present was not found in high enough concentrations to continue at the price per ton at that time.
While the Army did not test for potential gold content, that’s been the focus of Samarin’s efforts.
“There’s plenty of gold here,” said Samarin. “They just didn’t test for it. Most of it is fine gold, but there are some small nuggets.”
Samarin pointed to a large, exposed section of bedrock and stated, “You can see they (the US Army)used a really large bucket excavator. The scrapes in that rock are from the bucket’s teeth.”
While attendees attempted to recover gold using their own drywashers and detectors, Samarin set out to testing a version of the new commercial drywashing units he has developed.
Other activities for the three-day event included a small-scale Sierra Blaster demonstration, a kids’ detecting hunt, a huge pot-luck dinner. Afterwards, PLP board members provided an update about their procedures for using suction dredges for reclamation and answered a few questions from members.
The Saturday evening event ended with a raffle. Things became a bit challenging when the hot, dry weather was interrupted by 30mph winds with occasional gusts nearing 50 mph. Everyone jumped in after the raffle to help clean up before the winds could carry everything away.
The group spent three days helping miners with access issues, teaching them how to politely and respectfully educate federal regulators and law enforcement officers, and how to win these issues in court if necessary.
This is the third trip MMAC has made to DC this year, so some of the congressional staff members are gaining a better understanding of the current problems miners face and how MMAC-assisted Mining Districts can alleviate those problems.
The intent is to rein in abuses by rogue agents of the Forest Service who have an anti-mining agenda whereby a miner can get a bad federal agent fired.
There are some miners who are under the impression that an organized Mining District will immediately get the regulatory agencies off their backs so they can start digging or dredging again.
PLP has developed a plan to get dredgers back in the water by embracing the fact that suction gold dredgers can provide a valuable service by reclaiming waterways.
We’ve heard from miners in Arizona about federal agencies closing off historic roads that provide access for miners, and we need your input.
The ESA has become an unwieldy beast that was hijacked by government agencies run amok, and by extreme environmental groups who saw it as a way to lock up public lands and to generate income through exaggerated claims and continuous lawsuits.
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