Prospecting and Mining Old Mine Sites
December 2016 by Alex DolbeareIn some places valuable ores can be found within the waste material of mine dumps, sorted ore piles, and detrital vein matter at the surface. Though many of these old mine sites can be an excellent source of gold, not all are created equal.
Potholes in bedrock can trap placer minerals and even be glory holes. They are, at least, interesting geologic phenomena, and at best, a treasure trove of gold nuggets.
We chose this particular area because an old channel had run here at one point and had been heavily worked on top of a mountain hilltop. Erosion patterns cut deeply on each side, leaving the channel exposed. The erosion cut sharply, dropping into ravines far below.
For the last two years we’ve held a hands-on prospectors training session in the Iowa Hill district of California’s Mother Lode country as a part of our Gold Prospecting and Mining Summit event. Because of this, I thought it might be good to take a look at the history, geology and opportunities that the Iowa Hill district still offers to the individual prospector.
One of his friends had 700 feet of small-gauge mine track and a hundred-year-old track bender laying out in his back 40; plus he also wanted to join the team. Perfect.
The biggest obstacle is that like many streams on the Kenai Peninsula, high water during the summer months from snow melt and rain can make dredging nearly impossible. The best dredging is in the colder months of the year.
I have smaller pans for cleaning black sand concentrates, big pans for taking large samples, pans with corners for pouring out materials, and pans with lots of special riffles. This variation is why I have so many pans—they each have their specialty.
The Bawl Mill • Our Readers Say • Ask the Experts: What type of wetsuit do I need? • Prospector's Guide to Rock Breaking and Blasting • MMAC Update • Pros and Cons of Big Detector Coils • Detecting Strategies for Heavily Forested Areas • Mining Districts and Community Outreach • Alaskan Gold Adventure • Learning the Game and the Power to Change It • Central Idaho Federal Employees Back to Work With Local Help • Mining Stock Quotes and Mineral & Metal Prices • Melman on Gold & Silver