Chat about anything you want.
#9669 by rocket
Mon Jul 19, 2010 4:43 pm
i would like to hear opinions. i have met a few that tried and failed. i personally would like to make at least a fair portion of my income from prospecting if possible. the question is.. has it become just a biz for big boys with big money and toys?... have the "they" in shadow places of "government" made it impossible?.. has too much of the low lying fruit been picked clean? ... give your thoughts


#9681 by 4theluvofgold
Tue Jul 20, 2010 10:39 am
If you can ration the good times with the low times. Lower the standards at which you expect to live by. Study geology emmensly and learn history very thoroughly in both meteorological and mining. Then there is a chance.

I did it back in 2002 when gold was between 280 and 300 an oz. Lived cheap. Plenty of the local foods around me were used. Crawdads, berries and fish too. The fish head went in the crawdad trap.

I enjoyed every minute of it even the low times. I traded with the gold before just selling it.

You will need to have your idea of how much you need in a certain time. Then will need to get a way to get that in the time. Luck helps to. Plus packing further then everyone else would.

Tools of a variety will help but efficiency will to fines will add up to pay even if its nuggets we want.
#9691 by Umpqua_E
Tue Jul 20, 2010 3:49 pm
Once, my dad said to my grandmother, "you couldn't raise a family of four these days, on the wage grandpa earned in the 40's".

And her reply was, "well, you might be able to do it if you were willing to live the way we did."

Which or venison for many meals (fishing was incomparably more productive back then), every spare moment in the summer spent berry picking, etc., a family of four in a 2-room shack, one very used car in the driveway, almost every home improvement home-made or traded for with another handy neighbor, etc. No insurance, or little, and a dream of owning a home.....any home.......

Plus, they didn't usually live a lifestyle exclusively focused around one money-making activity. You might look for mushrooms in the fall, make a little moonshine for spending cash, grandpa would take a cougar for the $50 bounty, and trade his carpentry skills frequently for other work or for cash. If you lived as a diverse generalist, a living could probably be had, although you might be in violation of law for periods of time (or maybe not), and your standards would be greatly changed (for the better maybe?)
#9741 by spilsnthrils
Thu Jul 22, 2010 9:39 pm
Reality... there are easier ways to make a living. I can make 10 times the money sitting at home on the internet than I could in a creek with a dredge.
#9748 by kerbyjackson
Fri Jul 23, 2010 2:40 am
I started posting on this before, then lost it.

It is possible to make a good living mining, however, as Spils pointed out, it's not easy.

The first thing to consider is that there is a learning curve. You just can't jump in a creek and pull out a quarter ounce of gold. Mining is a science and you have to learn all you can about that science. You have to learn where the gold is, why it's there, how it acts and where it deposits. Some people catch on quick and seem to have a knack for it, others have to work at it. Study Dave McCracken's books and get yourself ahead.

Second, you need a place to mine. You need a claim and it needs to be a good one.

Third, you need the right equipment. In my opinion, the smallest piece of equipment you can get by on is a 4" "dredge". Though a 3" is pretty good for sampling, anything smaller is kind of a bath tub toy. You can dig faster than a 2.5", though these small machines are pretty good at cleaning bedrock. Something like a 3" combo would also be valuable, since it allows you the ability to not only dig and highbank, but also use the nozzle to clean the bedrock. You also need to learn how to use that equipment and other equipment (like come-alongs, winches, etc.) in conjunction with it. Here again, study McCracken's books and learn the right way.

If you do everything right, have the right gear, work hard and are in a good area, 8 times out of 10, it's not hard to get a dwt or two of gold in a day. Some days you'll do a lot better and these will balance the other days out. You won't make A LOT, but you'll get by - in theory.

This is where we hit the hardest part of mining. It's the daily expense involved and the big consideration is fuel.

For starters, depending on the fuel economy of your equipment, you're going to spend $5 to $10 a day in gas. That's not so bad.

The real killer is the fuel you require getting to/from your claim. In my situation, I am relatively "close" to the claim, but it's still 46 miles round trip. Obviously, if you own a big gas guzzling 4 X 4 that is considered the "Ultimate Mining Vehicle", it's going to cost $20 bucks to hit your claim. Add to that your equipment fuel and you're spending at least $25 a day. Times that by 30 days and at current gold prices, you need almost 3/4 of an ounce just to cover the cost of fuel each month.

A better way would be to haul all your equipment in your big mining vehicle, pack it in and leave it there until you need to move it again. Though there's risk involved, you'll just have to do your best to protect it with locks and chains. Done this way, you save time each not having to pack gear in and out, which means you can right to mining. In this situation, a motorcyle is your best choice for getting to and and from your claim, though you might be riding around with 5 gallons of gas on your back. They can go anywhere and would probably only use $1 in gas each day instead of $20. If you're not a bike guy, your best bet would be a cheap Geo Metro that gets 50 mpg. Too bad they don't make a version that is lifted high enough off the ground to climb through ruts in the roads.

But if you don't have the resources for all that, you can pretty much count on the necessity of spending more time on that claim. Most of the people I know who did this for a living either live on their claim, or at least spend half their time on the claim. Living there much in the way that Umpqua or 4theloveofgold describes would certainly bring the cost way down, though it's all very frowned upon these days in the guise of the political correctness that has slowly taken our rights away. But that's the key, bringing your expenses down to insure that you keep mining. Some people might consider it a negative to do without certain things that others have, such as a refrigerator, a stove, phone, lights, TV, microwave dinners, etc. and trading it for creekwater and fresh venison, but it all depends on your outlook and personal responsibilties. My personal outlook is that I would have no real issue with that, but at the same time, I have certain responsibilties that prevent me from doing anything like that.

Unless you can figure out a way to get to/from the claim very economically, you can pretty much count on spending at least a few days straight on the claim every week and really busting your ass to get enough gold to head back to town for 2 or 3 days each week.

One more thing to consider. You need a contingency fund for emergencies. Things happen. Remember, if you blow the pump on your machine, you are out of business until it's fixed or replaced, so you MUST have either cash or gold put away for just in case.

As for the low hanging fruit, there is still enough gold out there that if a guy had a good claim, lived on it, lived very simply and busted his ass every day, he could get by with a stream sluice, a pick and a couple shovels, buckets, classifiers and a pan. As long as you are out there every day, know what you're doing and willing to work, you can find at least a half dwt on most days and you will have some really good days to offset the meager days. An ounce or more a month isn't out of line and you can live pretty well if you're roughing it and don't have to spend money on crap.

The problem with most of us is, we don't get out there enough and spend enough time digging.
#9753 by mendoAu
Fri Jul 23, 2010 10:16 am
....and about those months that are raining buckets with wind and lightning and ripping water. Muddy roads in the winter, dusty baking sun in the summer. Pretty hard to mine year around even without "in water" times. Gone are the days of finding a spot to set up with a guarentee not to be harrassed by someone.'s awful inviting....
#9807 by spilsnthrils
Mon Jul 26, 2010 7:50 pm
Just ask Dawgmining about mining for a living. He will tell you strait up what it takes, winters summer and all, aint no picnic or weekend camping trip.
#9811 by Auquester
Mon Jul 26, 2010 10:25 pm
Learn the basics here, close to home, as the others have said. Then if you think you can handle spending 3 months dredging in Alaska.. Get a claim up there and an 8-10" dredge to go with it. I speak with no authority here, just another opinion.

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