Placer Claim Mined Out?

desertgolddigger

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May 31, 2015
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I belong to a local club that owns a claim. This club has had this claim for many years, and acquired it after the old timers had mined it previously, and others after they commercial outfits closed up.
I walked quite a bit of the 160 acre claim, and noted that just about every wash had been worked. Most of the surface nuggets has also been detected by those with gold detectors. In other words, this place has been picked over and over and over.
But I m a stubborn type of person, and I figured, just watching how people ram their puffer and blower drywashers, that some gold was just being blown through them. maybe not much, but some small stuff that never got a chance to settle behind the riffles.
I know many of you would never go to the effort of digging for three to four hours through the tailings in these washes. Again, I'm a bit stubborn, and anyway, I just wanted to have some fun locally, instead of driving 300 miles roundtrip to something that gives a little more for less effort.
I've spent the last three weeks, digging a few times a week along about 30 yards of wash, and have recovered just about a gram of gold. That might not seem like much, but I have only dug up 5 grams, not counting this one gram in almost 20 years out here drywashing in the desert of southern California.
As you would know, things always seem to go wrong. My gas powered blower motor decided it was time for the repair shop, and haven't heard from the shop in two weeks. So I purchased a WORX WG521 corded electric leaf blower to use with my Royal Large drywasher. I'm using a portable generator to provide the power. And it actually is working better than with my old gas powered blower. I have to run the blower on the lowest speed, or I just blow everything through the riffles. Results are very good, as I am getting gold specks so small that I will have to use the Blue bowl in order to recover them.
I'm not only getting a little gold, I'm having some fun, and I am getting a good workout. I've lost 10 pounds since I started. So things are going well.
I'm still digging test holes around the old time hard rock mines in the hope I will find where the gold has drifted downhill below these mines. So far just a couple specks here and there. I figure I just have to move laterally one way or the other before I get something better Of course, I' don't really know if the old timers stripped the hillsides. Even if they have, they apparently aren't as thorough as I am. I hope that I may be lucky and find a larger piece of gold that the old timers, previous placer miners, and detectorists have missed.
Hope everyone is having as much fun as I have been having.
 
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desertgolddigger

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Hoorah!!!!!!! Today's work paid off.

I finished taking down, what had been a pretty good obstacle, a dry washer tailing pile. The largest pieces yet, came out of the effort.

I only could manage about two five gallon buckets from the huge tailing piles in the wash, but again, nice chunky gold.

Todays take was .225 grams (25 pieces).

My last day for this month will be tomorrow, though we've been getting scattered showers in that general area. Hopefully it will be dry when I get there.

It's amazing that people are running up to three inch rocks off their dry washer grizzly. Based on the gold I've recovered, lots of gold gets knocked off that grizzly, and never gets into the dry washer hopper. That's one reason I never run anything larger than 1/4 inch. The 1/4+ to 1/2 inch I haul home just in case there's gold in it.. I just need a sensitive enough metal detector that can detect about .020 gram nuggets/flakes. I just have to think there are some nuggets in the 3 or 4 tons of gravel I've hauled home.
 
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desertgolddigger

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and then use your metal detector on your waste pile for what might have been missed !
Right now I don't make waste piles. I'm still repairing the storm damage to the roads both going to, and on our claim. So, everything gets looked at, then put into buckets for transport to those locations. Even fist sized rocks are being used where the sand is very thick.

But, yes, the 1/2 inch gravel to 1/8 inch that makes it through my classifiers, will get either run through my dry washer again, or metal detected, eventually.
 
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desertgolddigger

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Since I moved down into the wash, to search the huge tailing piles, I've found a little over 1/2 gram in three outings. Quantity, as is usually in working old tailing piles isn't a lot, bur I'm getting larger flakes, that apparently rode the material in the fast dry washing of those miners right over the riffles. I'm also getting chunkier gold, though that seems to be associated with the heavy gravel shoved off the washer grizzly, though I do get the occasional chunky in the lighter dry washing tailings.

With such good returns for my efforts, I would love to go out every day, but fuel costs are basically limiting me to to to three days a week. I'll be glad when the high temperature is in the mid 80's. That will allow me to take my boxy camper trailer out for two to three days. Boxy is an Interstate 4x6 Loadmaster trailer I converted a few years ago just for the purpose of extended gold mining outings. I modified it to also take a Hounditioner (kennel) A/C) so if it warms too much, I have a cool refuge in the trailer. Except for the A/C, everything runs off of 12VDC (solar powered). Maybe sometime the middle of the month it may be cool enough to save on fuel by camping a mile from the claim..
 
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desertgolddigger

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Today I decided to try running some of the gravel smaller than 1/4 inch (micro gravel), that I've sifted with my trommel.
The dry washer didn't like gravel without lots of dirt, and caused a lot of difficulty. I ended up putting five half buckets of this material through, and found absolutely nothing. It may be that a dry washer can't separate this material without lots of dirt.

Looks like I'll have to try sluicing this gravel, but not sure a sluice can separate gold out of just pure micro gravel.

So with nothing to show for my efforts, I decided to clean out the bottom of my equipment box, where I store my dry washer riffle assembly. Ended up with 0.130 grams that somehow got past my riffle try into the blower box.

I've continued to go about every third day to the claim. I've been working the wash, and breaking up the disintegrated bedrock has gotten dirt and whatnot in this area. I've also worked hard to scrape the clay from the bedrock.

I got two pieces with clay on them. Soaked them in water. The larger one weighed in at 0.083 grams. It looked kind of strange, so I looked at it with a loupe, and discovered it's another specimen (gold surrounding a piece of quartz).

So far this month my gold take is 2 1/2 grams. It's been a very good start to October, especially when compared to September's paltry slightly over one gram. Maybe the good pay will continue, and I will reach 3 and possibly 4 grams for the month.
 

southfork

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Your month is starting out good some gold for your efforts. I was wondering if you ever just go prospecting out in the desert. Just go out and dig a random spot and run a couple buckets for fun.
 
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desertgolddigger

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Your month is starting out good some gold for your efforts. I was wondering if you ever just go prospecting out in the desert. Just go out and dig a random spot and run a couple buckets for fun.
I prospected, probably 15 years ago, without much success. I did find one place that gave gold, but the stuff was so small, it took hundreds to make 1/10th gram. I actually was thinking of filing a claim, when it got taken by someone else. He brought in equipment and strip mined acres of the place. This is BLM land, and I thought using things like front loaders was illegal. Maybe he obtained a commercial permit. The months I dug never produced anything larger than 1/16 inch.

Anyway, the club claim I'm working is 25 miles away. If I try do look for anything else, it'll be at least another 10 miles, and that 10 miles would mean another 45 minutes travel, as the roads are even worse once past our claim. Our club has another claim an hour farther in, but the few times I dug never produced as much as a speck of even 200 mesh gold.

I'm too old (72 years young) to bother digging out in the desert anymore. I'll settle for prospecting, then mining our claim. I need 3/10ths of a gram just to pay for the fuel for my truck and generator. Yeah, a generator. I now use a 110 volt Worx 800cfm blower powered by that generator. Blower works perfectly on lowest power setting.
 
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desertgolddigger

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I prospected, probably 15 years ago, without much success. I did find one place that gave gold, but the stuff was so small, it took hundreds to make 1/10th gram. I actually was thinking of filing a claim, when it got taken by someone else. He brought in equipment and strip mined acres of the place. This is BLM land, and I thought using things like front loaders was illegal. Maybe he obtained a commercial permit. The months I dug there never produced anything larger than 1/16 inch. so I wonder if he made any money. He was active a coupe months, then shut down.

Anyway, the club claim I'm working is 25 miles away. If I try do look for anything else, it'll be at least another 10 miles, and that 10 miles would mean another 45 minutes travel, as the roads are even worse once past our claim. Our club has another claim an hour farther in, but the few times I dug never produced as much as a speck of even 200 mesh gold.

I'm too old (72 years young) to bother digging out in the desert anymore. I'll settle for prospecting, then mining our claim. I need 3/10ths of a gram just to pay for the fuel for my truck and generator. Yeah, a generator. I now use a 110 volt Worx 800cfm blower powered by that generator. Blower works perfectly on lowest power setting.
 

arizau

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May 2, 2014
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Today I decided to try running some of the gravel smaller than 1/4 inch (micro gravel), that I've sifted with my trommel.
The dry washer didn't like gravel without lots of dirt, and caused a lot of difficulty. I ended up putting five half buckets of this material through, and found absolutely nothing. It may be that a dry washer can't separate this material without lots of dirt.
Just a little physical science for you:
Thin layers of coarse material/gravel leave air gaps/pathways between individual particles. Blown or puffed air, seeking the path of least resistance, goes right through those gaps with minimal effect on the coarse material. The addition of fines/dirt and sand seals the gaps so that forced air has a more pronounced effect on everything in the riffle tray.
I admire your persistence and wish you much good luck!
 
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desertgolddigger

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Just a little physical science for you:
Thin layers of coarse material/gravel leave air gaps/pathways between individual particles. Blown or puffed air, seeking the path of least resistance, goes right through those gaps with minimal effect on the coarse material. The addition of fines/dirt and sand seals the gaps so that forced air has a more pronounced effect on everything in the riffle tray.
I admire your persistence and wish you much good luck!
Actually I know that after 20 years of dry washing. I did put dirt in with the micro pea gravel this morning. It just doesn't work as well as the material that you dig up, then classify, then run through the washer. I'll see if a sluice works on micro pea gravel only. I have basically zero experience with a recirculating sluice, but will try. The only other alternative is to purchase an expensive metal detector that can pick up small pieces of gold lying on a plastic surface. And I don't have much experience with metal detectors either. Any suggestions on a good gold metal detector, for that just in case I need one.

Is the Minelab GOLD MONSTER 1000 any good? Is it as good as the Gold Bug Pro?​

 
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desertgolddigger

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Hi All, I tried digging in a dry washer tailing pile in the wash, yesterday morning. While not great results, that person left me 0.060 grams. I'll leave that pile, and go back to digging in the natural material Mother Nature laid down my next outing.

But we are forecasted to have heavy rain, and other bad weather stuff for the next two or so days. So dry washing may be out for the next week or so.

I used my trommel to classify out my big gravel from the micro stuff this morning, and laid more gravel down in the backyard.

I then broke out my Time Ranger metal detector, with the 4 inch gold coil, put it in Smart TRAC all metal mode, and detected the gravel I've laid so far. No gold, but I found a few pieces of well rusted hardware. I guess it's from the Old timers who worked our claim.

I also detected the regular gravel laid years ago, and got weighed down with all the hardware I found in it. Some were staples or parts of staples. One was about two inches deep, and was about 3/16 long (part of a staple). I hope this means this detector may be able to detect gold at the claim. Anyway, all this detecting was practice for those days when it's too wet to dry wash. Maybe I'll get lucky some day with detecting. Of course I should do what I believe Arizau suggested, and search areas not claimed, bur near Old Timer gold digs.
 

southfork

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Hi All, I tried digging in a dry washer tailing pile in the wash, yesterday morning. While not great results, that person left me 0.060 grams. I'll leave that pile, and go back to digging in the natural material Mother Nature laid down my next outing.

But we are forecasted to have heavy rain, and other bad weather stuff for the next two or so days. So dry washing may be out for the next week or so.

I used my trommel to classify out my big gravel from the micro stuff this morning, and laid more gravel down in the backyard.

I then broke out my Time Ranger metal detector, with the 4 inch gold coil, put it in Smart TRAC all metal mode, and detected the gravel I've laid so far. No gold, but I found a few pieces of well rusted hardware. I guess it's from the Old timers who worked our claim.

I also detected the regular gravel laid years ago, and got weighed down with all the hardware I found in it. Some were staples or parts of staples. One was about two inches deep, and was about 3/16 long (part of a staple). I hope this means this detector may be able to detect gold at the claim. Anyway, all this detecting was practice for those days when it's too wet to dry wash. Maybe I'll get lucky some day with detecting. Of course I should do what I believe Arizau suggested, and search areas not claimed, bur near Old Timer gold digs.
I'm sure someone on this forum could help you with what to buy. The Equinox 800 after a long learning curve finds small gold and big gold in trashy areas like around old mines. I think excellent hearing is a plus to hear the soft tones with small numbers on the screen.
 
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desertgolddigger

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Southfork, Since my ears aren't the best, I use headphones. My detector hopefully will work for things down to two inches. I know it can detect about 0.10 gram nuggets, possibly smaller, Like you said, you have to listen carefully, and sweep the ground slowly. I see some of our members detecting who sweep back and forth very quickly. Sometimes I wonder if the small gold sound never hits their ears. I'm patient, as you probably can tell with my Placer mining. Doing things slowly is natural for me.

And yes I keep my eyes peeled for snakes. Years ago I had a run in with a large rattlesnake, I happened to have my shovel, so I kept whacking at it's neck, until I decapitated it. I always carry something with me when out in the desert.
 

southfork

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Southfork, Since my ears aren't the best, I use headphones. My detector hopefully will work for things down to two inches. I know it can detect about 0.10 gram nuggets, possibly smaller, Like you said, you have to listen carefully, and sweep the ground slowly. I see some of our members detecting who sweep back and forth very quickly. Sometimes I wonder if the small gold sound never hits their ears. I'm patient, as you probably can tell with my Placer mining. Doing things slowly is natural for me.

And yes I keep my eyes peeled for snakes. Years ago I had a run in with a large rattlesnake, I happened to have my shovel, so I kept whacking at it's neck, until I decapitated it. I always carry something with me when out in the desert.
The headphones hinder hearing rattlesnakes and other things moving around in my opinion.
 
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desertgolddigger

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I've found the critters, given their druthers, will move away, if you give them a wide berth. I've gone out, and seen plenty of rattlers, and been within several feet of some. I just act calm, back away slowly, so not to frighten them, and then watch, as they slither away. You just need to not move fast. Anyone would get scared of you looked threatening. Anyway, when I detected many years ago, I never detected near anything that interfered with my seeing several yards ahead of me. I stay away from bushes, and any rocky outcrops, until I see that it's uninhabited.
 

DizzyDigger

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I've found the critters, given their druthers, will move away, if you give them a wide berth. I've gone out, and seen plenty of rattlers, and been within several feet of some.

It's the one you don't see that gets ya...

You've also got Mojave Greens down there, and those guys will curl
up on top of some short shrub or weed, and they just disappear into
the background. That, and they often wouldn't move 'til you almost step
on them.
 
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desertgolddigger

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It's the one you don't see that gets ya...

You've also got Mojave Greens down there, and those guys will curl
up on top of some short shrub or weed, and they just disappear into
the background. That, and they often wouldn't move 'til you almost step
on them.
How about I just use a single ear headset. Leaves one ear completely exposed to the environment
 

DizzyDigger

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How about I just use a single ear headset. Leaves one ear completely exposed to the environment

In my experience, MG's don't always rattle, but that would probably be a bit safer.

My right ear is just a decoration..100% out-of-order, so I don't use
headphones at all. No rattlesnakes up here, but we do have plenty
of bears and cougars..:laughing7:
 
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desertgolddigger

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I went out last night so I could beat the possible rain and flooding. I didn't worry about sorting, collecting, and laying the various sizes of rock/gravel, but just sifted for pay dirt. Got 0.130 grams. So the wash in this location isn't paying out like 10 feet below where I worked. I'm hoping to find natural bedrock riffles as I go that will have better pay out.

I processed my material, and then poured the remains on my panning tailing pile. I then cleaned the water basin (kitty litter box), and was going to toss the really dirty fluff that remained in the water basin. I decided to pan this stuff I normally toss, and was astonished I've possibly been throwing -200 mesh gold away.

The reason I never noticed this gold is I wasn't wearing my glasses when using the magnifying loupe, and primarily because I do my after panning processing indoors. Apparently the Sun's light has a quality that makes these little gold pieces stand out, versus my LED lamp I use indoors. I get the feeling my mini cleanup sluice might sort this little stuff out. I will just have to pan out the material until the water isn't dirty, and use Jet Dry when using the sluice, and panning.

I learn something new every day, usually via the school of hard knocks. Wonder how much of that -200 gold I've just tossed since I started working the wash area.
 

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