Heavy Metal Prospecting
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Thread: Heavy Metal Prospecting

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  1. #1
    us
    Feb 2021
    Colorado
    9
    18 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Heavy Metal Prospecting

    Hi All,

    I am a rookie prospector. I have been learning what I can do to not destroy myself, and wrote up a summary that might be useful to other beginners, assuming it is reasonably accurate. I'd like to get your feedback. I'm not posting this to generate hysteria, just want to check if my understanding is reasonable and, if so, pass it on.

    Best,
    Lamont

    *** Avoiding Toxic Situations when Prospecting ***

    Gold is heavy metal awesomeness, and it tends to be found with other metals and metalloids, some essential, some harmful, and some both depending on the dose. Handling gold-bearing ores and black sands can be no big deal whenever they are made up of common, chemically stable, or otherwise benign minerals. However, that is not always the case, and many beginner prospectors are not expert mineralogists who know exactly what is in their ores or black sands. Here are some things to consider if you are starting prospecting and prefer to reduce your exposure to harmful stuff. Be aware, not afraid, learn more, and take precautions that make sense to you.

    Here are some examples of elements (and minerals and other stuff) that are found in gold-bearing ores and black sands in Colorado:

    1. Arsenic (arsenopyrite, pearceite, proustite, tennantite)
    2. Mercury (coloradoite, free mercury, mercury-gold amalgam)
    3. Lead (galena, altaite, lead shot)
    4. Antimony (freibergite, miargyrite, polybasite, pyrargyrite, stephanite, tetrahydrite)

    Many of the minerals listed above are not hazardous in isolation. But they can be transformed during ore and black sand processing, and elements can end up taking more toxic forms. Here are some examples of ore and black sand processing activities that can alter minerals:

    1. Digging and crushing ore creates dust. Inhaling the dust from the above minerals is not good because these tiny particles have a relatively high surface area and can stay in your lungs for a long time, both of which promote minerals dissolving. Also, breathing in dust from crushing quartz and various fibrous minerals is not good. If you do this stuff, do it outside, take advantage of a cross breeze, wear a good dust mask, and consider what you’ll do with your dusty clothes.
    2. Roasting ores or black sands, by design, decomposes some of the minerals listed above, creating airborne toxins that can be absorbed through your lungs, not to mention a fierce stink. If you do this stuff, do it outside, taking advantage of a cross breeze, and don’t assume that a dust mask will protect you from toxic gasses.
    3. Soaking ores or black sands in acids, by design, dissolves many of the above minerals, with the dissolution rate depending on the acid type and temperature. These solutions can end up being toxic as well as acidic, and can also release toxic gasses. If you do this stuff, do it outside, wear the right gloves, use the right containers, and dispose the solution thoughtfully.
    4. Soaking ores or black sands in water for weeks to months can cause sulfur bacteria to transform many of the above sulfide minerals, with changes depending on oxygen levels, temperatures, pH, and other factors. You'll know sulfur bacteria are at work if you get a whiff of rotten eggs out of your bucket. After sulfur oxidation and reduction, these solutions can end up being toxic as well as acidic. If you do this stuff, do it outside, wear gloves, and dispose the solution thoughtfully.

    Bottom line:

    1. Don’t get gold-bearing ores or black sands in your eyes, nose, or mouth, and wash your hands as necessary.
    2. Don't inhale dust from digging or crushing ores.
    3. Don't inhale fumes from roasting ores or black sands.
    4. Avoid touching solutions or inhaling fumes when soaking ores and black sands in acid or in water over an extended period.
    5. Dispose spent ores, sands, and solutions thoughtfully.
    Last edited by monte_rivers; Feb 25, 2021 at 10:04 AM.
    Phil and roy2bears like this.

  2. #2
    us
    retired bumb and part time Hobo

    May 2005
    St. Louis, missouri
    6,341
    5284 times
    [QUOTE=monte_rivers;6698409]Hi All,

    I am a rookie recreational prospector. By indicating that your a "recreational " prospector (any time) you eliminate your self from owning a mining claim according to the mining laws and there are lots of people looking on the internet for people makeing these mistakes that could / would have your claim taken from you! Just read the mining laws !
    Fat and monte_rivers like this.

  3. #3
    us
    Feb 2021
    Colorado
    9
    18 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Thanks for noting my rookie mistake, russau. I appreciate it.
    Fat and russau like this.

  4. #4
    us
    retired bumb and part time Hobo

    May 2005
    St. Louis, missouri
    6,341
    5284 times
    I guess we all make that mistake sometime! Good Luck on you adventure !
    monte_rivers likes this.

 

 

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