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Thread: Phyromining

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  1. #1
    us
    Jan 2019
    Maine
    357
    330 times
    Prospecting

    Phyromining

    I realized I am in an ideal spot to try this, but am curious if others have done so, and what their results were?

    I was thinking about doing a phyromining experiment upon my farm this year. I believe I am in an excellent location for this. I have gold bearing bedrock, yet only a few inches above, I have some fertile soil. I was going to plant a few acres of sunflowers anyway, so treating the soil with a lixiviant just before harvest would not be a big deal. Naturally, being a sheep farm, I have the resources to produce that lixiviant as well.

    My original intent was to harvest the heads for the seeds, and have the stems to be chopped for sheep fodder, but obviously I cannot do the latter if treated with lixiviant. I experimented this year with using corn mixed in my home-heating pellet stove with excellent results, so I thought this year I would experiment with burning sunflower seeds. Yet rather than use the stalks to feed my sheep, I would just burn the stalks and have the resulting ash assayed to see what the gold/Silver/PMG content was. We have grown sunflowers in the past with really good results, so I know sunflowers grow well here, it would just be interesting to see how much they hyperaccumulate gold/silver/pgm's. Really the only technical help I would need is figuring out how much lixiviant I would need to apply per acre to kickstart the hyperaccumulation process.

    I do not know any farm in Maine who is doing this though, mostly because how much gold/silver/pgm areas are located under open farm land?

    It would be an interesting experiment though, and while I doubt it would be a literal gold mine for me, it would be easier than hard rock mining (LOL).

    It might be interesting to see how much remediation could happen to my farm's soils from the high levels of copper and zinc that have accumulated from liquid dairy cow manure applications too. That unto itself has high benefits for since it is such a problem for us farmers; especially sheep farmers! (Anything over 8 ppm in the feed will kill a sheep as they are very susceptible to copper toxicity).

    Heat my home, rid my farm of toxic levels of heavy metals, and gathering up gold all at the same time; it is a very interesting concept.

  2. #2
    Charter Member

    Sep 2014
    Midwest, North of 36°60'
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    I think the big question is- "How many square miles of sunflowers to a gram of metal?".

    Also, when you burn micro sized gold it tends to vaporize. So there is a lot to overcome.

    It'd be cool to have a money tree though!
    KevinInColorado likes this.
    Liberty is the Freedom to do the next Right thing.

    In God We Trust


  3. #3
    Make America Great Again

    Apr 2013
    Oregon
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    probably not worth the effort, might be something on mined lands not farm land.
    https://www.livescience.com/28676-plants-grow-gold.html
    " A pessimist is an optimist with experience "

  4. #4
    us
    Jan 2019
    Maine
    357
    330 times
    Prospecting
    Quote Originally Posted by Duckshot View Post
    I think the big question is- "How many square miles of sunflowers to a gram of metal?".

    Also, when you burn micro sized gold it tends to vaporize. So there is a lot to overcome.

    It'd be cool to have a money tree though!
    I am not sure. They said with Nickel they were getting 88 pounds to the US Acre, but that is not gold either. And I am not sure if that is by assay numbers, or real world numbers at the end of the smelting process.

    At first, I thought that was nonsense reporting, but then as I thought about it, it may not be. I know alfalfa is a hyperaccumulator, and it can drive a root 20 feet down finding its way through cracks in the bedrock. Considering the massive networks of roots, tapping the ground for twenty feet, over an acre of ground...that number actually seems low.

    They said it is cost effective to do, but I am not sure what they started with for gold bearing ground either.

  5. #5
    us
    Apr 2015
    Oshkosh, WI
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    Hemp is a good bio-accumulator for PM's and mercury. The resinous leaves can also be used to capture fine gold.

    Hmmm...Might explain some of the craziness of the libs out in CA.
    DeepseekerADS likes this.

  6. #6

    Mar 2016
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    The illegal marijuana growers around here build large cisterns and mix fertilizer and poisons into the water supply. Carbofuran is popular. The plant absorbs the poison and the animals and insects that touch the plant become poisoned then die.

    Then they harvest the bud and sell it to idiots to smoke. If they only knew how much of the added chemicals are stored in the plant.

    I went to a mining lecture last week and the geologist touched on the topic of farming gold.

    I believe the plant Mullen also absorbs minerals.
    All treasures found with permission on private property or on active mining claims.

  7. #7
    us
    Aug 2010
    Maine USA
    312
    296 times
    Theoretically, this is all possible, but the large scale necessary would probably only be worthwhile by extracting gold as a by product of farming where chaff and waste could be continuously worked. I think the best practical process next to this is the working of moss along streambeds where gold is caught by mechanical action of gold bearing gravel running over the moss.
    nh.nugget and Asmbandits like this.

  8. #8
    gold miner antique collector

    Sep 2013
    e.rochester nh.
    whites, KEENE A52 sluice, 3" dredge
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    Moss is good! I find a lot of gold in moss.
    Some times skill has nothing to do with it!

  9. #9
    Make America Great Again

    Apr 2013
    Oregon
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    if you put something in the soil you run the risk of destroying good farm land.
    lixiviant? you have acids and then have to leach the gold out with cyanide
    none of these can be allowed to spill into the environment.
    Last edited by winners58; Apr 16, 2019 at 03:26 PM.
    Clay Diggins likes this.
    " A pessimist is an optimist with experience "

  10. #10

    Mar 2016
    1,560
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    Quote Originally Posted by nh.nugget View Post
    Moss is good! I find a lot of gold in moss.
    Unfortunately I believe that is illegal in most places..considered vegetation.
    Removing vegetation along the banks of the stream is usually prohibited.

    Your right ..the grasses and moss capture a lot of flood gold.

    There are also studies being performed to harvest gold from cultured bacteria I believe.
    All treasures found with permission on private property or on active mining claims.

  11. #11
    us
    Jan 2019
    Maine
    357
    330 times
    Prospecting
    I know it phyromining is beyond theory, as the US Military uses it to clean up contaminated former military bases.

    They use sheep to graze the contaminated acres, the sheep being that they flock close together and can graze a tight area. As the grass is grazed, the plants absorb the munitions and draw it into the grass. With the sheep's four powerful stomachs, they neutralize the munitions with their high acid, and poo it harmlessly out.

    Then the process is repeated.

    Using 30 sheep in rotational grazing, they can process 20 acres a growing season. That is pretty darn good.

    It is cheaper to pay a sheep farmer to bring in his sheep, than it is to excavate, haul off, incinerate, and then regrade the contaminated site. But that is different economics then mining ore, but it is still successful phyromining.

  12. #12
    us
    Jan 2019
    Maine
    357
    330 times
    Prospecting
    A lot of different plants hyperaccumulate, but sadly none hyperaccumulate gold because it is not very water soluble. There are several variety of plants that hyperaccumulate silver for instance, and sunflowers hyperaccumulate copper, all without lixiviants.

    Extracting them would be the problem.

    Part of the answer might not be in going after only one type of mineral, but a host of them, if they could be separated. My soil has high levels of zinc and copper, medium grade gold ore, and low grade silver ore. While it might be doubtful to make enough money on just the gold, maybe producing gold, silver, zinc and copper would be enough?

    I have often wondered if a person could combine phyromining with bioleaching to achieve the separation of plant matter from gold? As I said in my first post, as a sheep farmer I obviously have the raw materials to produce cyanide-ammonia lixiviants in high quantities, but a few other alternatives have occurred to me.

    Biochar is one low-heat alternative that would reduce plant matter, and make the resulting charcoal saturated with heavy metals without volatilization of the gold (I would assume). From there the heavy metals could be leached out.

    Another thought was a biodigester. As a farmer, I obviously know that process well. That might not only enable a person to reduce the plant matter, it would produce a byproduct that would generate electricity or heat. The heavy metals would not be heated high enough (digesters work at 103 degrees) to dissipate, and thus settle out in the resulting sludge. That would then be leached off

    I am a little more inclined to try the biodigester as that is already proven in ore, as the largest copper mine in the world using bioleaching to extract copper sulfides.

    But just so everyone knows; there is no right or wrong answer here, this is just a discussion of a new type of mining that may (or may not) open up new prospecting areas, and allow (or not) micro-miners to succeed.

    I like it because while I do not have the equipment handy to start a hard rock mine, I do have all the equipment to do phyromining and biodigesting, but then again, I am a farmer; this is what I do.
    Duckshot likes this.

  13. #13
    Charter Member

    Sep 2014
    Midwest, North of 36°60'
    2,951
    4467 times
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    Have you looked into using tobacco plants, Ore Cart?

    I recall reading something about tobaccos picking up heavy metals but I can't recall where. They don't have much for a tap root though and root mostly near the surface. But you could leech the nicotine out with plain old water (danger!!! Nicotine can be absorbed through your skin!), dry the plants out and burn the remnants of your tea for your metals, then sell the nicotine too!

    Might not be a long enough growing season in Maine for 120+ day burley tobacco, but the smaller rustica tobaccos ripen in about 90 days.
    Last edited by Duckshot; Apr 16, 2019 at 02:08 PM.
    Liberty is the Freedom to do the next Right thing.

    In God We Trust


  14. #14

    Mar 2014
    NorCal
    Fisher GB2, Bazooka Prospector 36", EZ sluice, Blue Bowl..
    956
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    Sounds like its not worth the trouble. I'll keep my lixiviants on the shelf next to the burlap and fish oil for now.
    winners58 likes this.
    Come check out my California Mother lode Adventures!---->https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC4U...aqFXriPUONmEtw

  15. #15
    us
    Jan 2019
    Maine
    357
    330 times
    Prospecting
    I think I did read that tobacco was a hyperaccumulator, along with others like Rape, Mustard, Sunflowers, etc. Each pulled a different heavy metal from the soil.

    I assume we planted tobacco around here at some point. I know on my farm we grew Hops for years until 1838 when my forefathers plowed it up and started growing potatoes. Throughout that time we also planted a lot of small grains.

    Typically we plant 100 day to 60 day corn; just an indication of our growing season.

 

 
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