The Jenkins Mine Project Pt III -- Site Selection
October 2010 by David
“Gold is where you find it.” This is one of the most common phrases spoken in regard to gold prospecting. Well of course gold is where you find it, but where is the “correct” place to look?
This feeling of complete helplessness started to subside when I took the time to walk the property, study the terrain and maps, and write everything down.
After observing the incredible flood that occurred in April 2008, I was able to make some amateur sense of the evidence I was finding up on the banks and along the tree lines. I climbed up into the biggest trees to get birds-eye views of the creek.
I spent months breaking brush and pulling thorns out of my shins, and my legs looked like they had been used to separate a fight between two mountain lions. I was finally ready to dig test holes.
Contrary Creek, located in Mineral, Virginia, is only a few miles long. The creek drains into man-made Lake Anna. There is a private gold prospecting lease on the last mile of the creek, and this is where the project was to take place.
I started at the top of the lease and worked my way down, over a mile, towards the lake. Before testing began, I vowed not to take too much time in each location, and no matter what the results were, I was to keep moving downstream and continue testing.
I began my testing project by first dividing my one-mile “master map” into 5 consecutive zones. Zone 1 was at the upstream boundary of the lease, and Zone 5 was at the bottom by the lake. Each zone was broken down into 10 Regions. Testing included working both in and out of the current stream channel. I used pans and classifiers, stream sluices, high bankers, and dredges.
I did not want to limit each test based on the size of the hole because I did not know how deep these areas were. Instead, I limited myself to 2 hours of work at each site. Two hours was enough time to gather enough material for further evaluation. Gravels were screened down to 8-, 12- and 20-mesh, on site. All -20 materials were taken home and further screened down to -30 and -50.
Each sample was carefully evaluated by slow panning, and then recorded. This sampling program was painfully tedious, and I’ve still got the calluses and embedded shovel splinters to prove it. But completing that testing program validated certain areas of the creek and eliminated others. This helped narrow down the locations for the project.
With my goals in mind, and having completed what I considered to be a detailed 4-month amateur analysis of the entire creek, my choices were narrowed down to three locations. Each location had pros and cons, and all three had excellent testing results.
I chose Zone 5 with specific targets of Regions 2-6. This was about 250 feet of creek, and these specific regions within this zone met every criteria set during the analysis, mapping, and testing phases of the project. Two other locations also met the same exact criteria, but I ended up choosing this one for a few reasons.
This location was at the very bottom of the creek and ensured I would not be covering massive lengths of potentially rich virgin ground with a year’s worth of tails. Next, I figured that gold deposition would be of a higher concentration if I was below all of the gold-bearing feeder streams.
These regions were also directly downstream of one of the only sharp bends in the entire creek. There were obvious low pressure bars after the bend, and definitely signs of material deposition with a drastic change in water speed, direction, and pressure.
Finally, this location was at the very bottom of the lease. I felt I could conduct the project without being worried about another prospector coming in and potentially skewing the results of some intense recovery documentation, which I’ll discuss in my conclusion next issue.
I was finally ready to move my equipment to the location and start moving material. With less than a week before starting, I experienced some delays due to requirements at work—the job that pays the bills. I was so excited about starting the project that I began to dream up excuses to take a month of leave. I know most of you can relate to this excitement. Calmer heads prevailed (wife), and I started recovery operations in early September.
Autumn was slowly setting in, and golden leaves had already begun their descent from the circling breezes into the calm pools on the creek. Recovery operations were about to commence, and I was ready to put all my hard research to the test.
© ICMJ's Prospecting and Mining Journal, CMJ Inc.