Having a reasonable level of prospecting knowledge is not enough as it takes more than sure determination and an insatiable desire to be successful at finding gold. You need the right tools in your mining equipment inventory that will assure you the greatest overall return for your efforts. Could be that you’re looking for some new high-performance mining equipment like a new gold dredge or a high-banker/power-sluice. If you are, you are not alone. A lot of people these days are new to prospecting having just recently become interested and involved at finding and recovering natural gold.
Yet all too often newcomers who think they know what they need acquire the wrong tools. Some buy a new piece of equipment not fully knowing how best to utilize it effectively. Others purchase the wrong size of equipment for their current and future needs, or rush into a purchase not realizing that over time they did not truly have the sustaining interest required for successful gold prospecting, realizing they have wasted their money.
Here are some tips to help you make the appropriate and common-sense selection of equipment for your unique capabilities, skill and level of interest, so you’ll avoid future disappointment or dissatisfaction.
Today’s 21st Century Gold Rush
Today there are more people out looking for gold then there have been for several decades and for many reasons, the economic recession, greater media awareness, a desire to find adventure, and a few dozen more. And gold mining equipment manufacturers and retailers are selling a lot of high-performance, small-scale mechanical mining gear these days.
All of this renewed interest is also from the dramatic rise in the global demand for gold that has driven its value steadily upward. This has produced a kind of quiet “gold rush” now occurring across the western United States. From Alaska to Arizona, Colorado to California, even within our nation’s historic western gold-bearing sites, we are again finding an increasingly large number of people out there prospecting for and finding naturally occurring gold.
As you are reading this article it’s likely you have acquired a strong and growing interest in gold prospecting and mining. Maybe your interest has become so vivid that you daydream of finding gold nuggets or you’ve discovered a recent passion for gazing at the flow of local rivers and streams. Knowledgeable people simply refer to this as a case of “gold fever”. Small-scale gold mining by individuals just like yourself has gained a new and growing popularity but to newcomers to this enterprise willing to make an investment in larger scale equipment we offer some sound advice. It is…if you are truly dedicated to this gold mining enterprise, take your time, buy smart and buy for the long term. Now here are some helpful tips that may aid you in making the right choice before you spend your hard earned money.
1. Know your specific
mining interests and buy equipment suited for your long term mining needs.
Because you’ve likely seen, and even likely tried. your hand at operating a small-scale gold dredge or a power-sluice, you now realize that both process a significant amount of concentrated material. When compared to your basic gold pan or sluice box, today’s mechanized, high-tech equipment is highly efficient but to recover the gold, all require a depth of knowledge, experience and personal ability along with access to gold bearing areas to get the most back from an often large initial equipment investment. Buying a dredge or other equipment will also commit you to a much larger personal involvement with this enterprise and a good working knowledge of the type of equipment you plan to operate is vital for success. It is important that you ask yourself if you are truly ready for this greater personal level of involvement with gold mining. You should also know that for preference the majority of today’s more serious small-scale miners favor the use of motorized floating suction dredges, from small, portable units “back-packers” to eight-inch commercial rigs. A close second are power-sluices, also known as “concentrators” or “high-bankers”, and both obviously are used in regions where there is an ample supply of water required for their function.
While it’s great you
might be contemplating the purchase of a portable gold dredge or power-sluice,
we often hear of newcomers making the wrong choice or later determine
they own inadequate size of equipment. That’s both unfortunate and
If you have the opportunity try operating different types and sizes and become familiar with the features of each. That’s not you, you say, and that you won’t make these mistakes? And you’ve already tried dredging or even worked on a common operation and shared in the gold recovery. Perhaps you have already made your equipment choice? Well this should still help, so please read on!
Buying the wrong type or size of mining equipment happens all too often. It usually begins after someone finds a little “color” and gets a case of gold fever. They learn of larger and more effective methods of gold recovery, processes like suction dredging or dry-washing. And armed with some basic knowledge of mechanized gold recovery methods they start dreaming of finding those golden riches believing that gold is just waiting out there to be found. While this can be true, it is frankly not just that easy. In my thirty years of dredging I’ll tell you that finding gold is the actual bonus to simply enjoying your search for gold.
While every story of an unsatisfied person with a lightly gold dredge for sale might be different, the primary reasons are all pretty common. Some went out and purchased mining equipment, perhaps it was a dredge, only to realize that it was the wrong equipment type or size or that they were not able or physically capable to use it enough to justify their investment, or they quickly outgrew the dredge’s capabilities. Maybe they did not full comprehend the significant amount of time and effort proportionally necessary to become successful at this enterprise. Some even discover that their mining equipment cannot be used in their favorite mining spot, often because of the lack of information of important regulatory limitations.Here it’s critical to determine the applicable regulations within the areas you plan to work. Others did not have a buddy involved with their dredging operation and everyone should know that truly safe dredging requires two people, one to back the other in case of an emergency. I know this firsthand because a dredging partner once got me out of a serious situation that I could not handle alone. Anyway you get the idea here. The end result is that NOT having basic information, knowledge and experience aids in making a bad choice that can sour a newcomer and make him lose interest in gold mining when he only needed some good insight BEFORE making their selection and purchase. For these reasons here is a “check list” that may help you to avoid this problem.
2. Don’t purchase
mining equipment unless you are certain about your involvement.
It will also help if you prepare a plan for your current and future mining interests; we call this an “operating plan”, as you’ll need to become fully comfortable with going beyond your current recreational involvement. This is the basis for your plan and you know exactly what will be required.
Next, be absolutely certain that you can afford to lay out some significant cash for going to this greater level of involvement. Good equipment is not inexpensive and should be considered an investment into your larger, long term involvement and operating plan.
3. Purchase equipment
manufactured for your specific mining process.
If it is dredging and you have friends involved or you can participate in a club’s common dredging operation, that’s great, and this experience will help you also gain basic knowledge of diving and an understanding of the process. Working underwater is a pre-requisite for effective diving.
If you live in an arid climate consider the equipment most effective for that region such as a “dry-washer” or a metal detector. Be certain to compare the different equipment models, brands, efficiencies, prices and sizes. Ask a dealer about equipment prices and features and compare models and the capabilities of each to more clearly understand what you want AND need so you can become proficient at its operation.
Make absolutely certain that you clearly know your personal and physical limitations even asking yourself if you are truly right for this kind of dedicated enterprise. Part-time mining requires a substantial commitment of time, travel and involvement beyond a recreational interest. If you only can spend a few days or less then a week each year at gold mining ask yourself if you can afford to invest the money necessary to purchase a dredge or other piece of mechanical mining equipment and get at best, only a limited return.
4. Understand your
personal and physical limitations.
The truth is that dredging and power-sluicing are different methods but both require a lot of physical effort and stamina. Are you up to the challenges and do you have the physical capabilities necessary for suction dredging because your personal abilities should really determine the size selection of your mining equipment?
You also need to determine what equipment size is truly best for your “long term” requirements. Why purchase a two-inch dredge when you might quickly outgrow this size, say within a year or two, and later wish you had purchased a larger and more productive model. This happened to me when I just first got involved and I purchased a smaller-sized dredge. My interests quickly exceeded my dredge’s capabilities and I went on to purchase a larger unit only a year after buying my smaller unit. The opposite here might also apply and I’ve seen where someone buys equipment much larger then they could operate. So I urge you, please do not buy a large dredge strictly upon a dream of finding large amounts of gold. The end result is always the same with the person becoming disillusioned and disappointed.
One example is an ambitious new gold dredger who decided that “bigger is better”. After only a couple of attempts at working a common dredging operation on a summer vacation, he became convinced that he could become successful at using larger equipment. He purchased a six-inch dredge only to realize that he could not operate it by himself, and since he did not want a partner to share in the operation, had restrictive limitations for his time dredging AND lived several hundred miles east from his access to gold-bearing rivers, it was only a short time before his equipment was up for sale.
5. Get some hands-on
training and personal experience first.
If you decide that dredging is what you prefer, ask yourself whether you would feel comfortable and proficient in working underwater for long periods of time using a face mask and an air regulator? Have you had prior training in using underwater breathing (hookah) gear? If you are still inclined to pursue a dredge but lack the experience, enroll in one of your local mining association dredging classes or purchase a week’s education by an experienced teacher in one of those larger scale operations that offers summer dredging classes. Better yet, locate a partner who already knows how to dredge, and learn from him. The same goes for all other mining methods.
Here is another consideration. Check to see if your state has restrictive regulations that prohibit dredging. Then decide if you are still willing to travel to more distant gold bearing rivers and streams for your dredging operations?
6. Ask for advice.
We cannot overstate that it is most important to have the knowledge of the type of mining you intend to pursue, the right size of equipment especially selected for your needs, and a clear understanding of the required time and money necessary to realizing your golden dream.
Here is another source for help before you purchase. Call the experts at Keene Engineering. Ask them specific questions about type and sizes of equipment, efficiency and productivity AND most importantly, ask them what might be right for your unique interests and requirements.
While it is true there is still lots of gold waiting to be recovered, finding it and recovering it requires knowledge, time, patience, dedication, having the right equipment AND a commitment to the overall effort (make that hard work). And we hope you too find your golden riches.
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