About Placer Mining
Making Money Placer Mining?
If you can afford to purchase a profitable, operating mine, you
can make money.
For the rest of us, the truth is that only a small proportion of
placer miners make money placer mining. But there are a aspects...
It may be a long shot but people have been looking for gold for
thousands of years. There is always the chance of striking it rich.
Many placer miners do find gold that they value. It may not be enough
to make their mining profitable but it makes the placer mining worthwhile.
It is a great hobby that supports great dreams for many people.
The most basic aspect is that many placer miners simply keep trying.
If no one ever kept trying to get ahead in life just because the odds
were against them, we would still be living in caves.
Unless an operating mine is purchased, placer mining is like
starting a new business. Most new businesses fail. In any kind
of situation, if there is an obvious way to make money, someone
will already be doing it. If the situation is speculative, there
are risks. Most placer miners are
folks who are willing to accept some risk for the possibility
of successful placer mining (however success is defined).
Prospecting Versus Existing Claims
Many placer miners are fundamentally prospectors. They may own
one or more claims, but they are exploring - testing in different
locations, looking for an opportunity to mine profitably. The
goal may be to mine or to sell the claims. But finding a good
location is the hard part.
Another approach is to try to find an existing placer claim
where you make a deal with the owner. The deal might be a
percentage of the gold recovered or an option to purchase the
claim. But, again, finding a good location is the hard part.
A lot of fine (as opposed to coarse) gold was missed, lost and/or
ignored, particularly during the gold rushes. Nuggets are great
but often most of the (remaining) gold in an area is fine.
A sluice box can capture
fine gold. It is very important to ensure that all clay is broken
up and suspended in the moving water. Balls of clay can roll
down the sluice and pick up ("steal") the fine gold that has
already been caught.
Modern technology can be used on creeks that are past-producers
(recognized by the fact that they are covered with claims even if
few or none are being worked). Portable
water pumps and
it a whole new game compared to the the 1800s or even the
1930s or 1950s. This is particularly true for benches well above
The best Placer Areas can be the
ones that were the best in the past. Alternatively, more obscure areas
can be good because they haven't had the attention of the more famous
areas. There are many areas and many theories.
Locations that can now be reached by modern forestry roads can be of
particular interest to prospectors because they were so hard to reach
before the roads were put in.
The "Casino" Aspect
There is an aspect to placer mining (usually during gold rushes) that
also applies to casinos. In a casino, the house has an advantage, but
they could generally make money even if they didn't. Some people come
in and lose money. Some people come in and win money. Usually, however,
winners keep playing until they, too, have lost money. Few people
quit while they are ahead. The author finds this interesting but he is
not sure how to apply it to placer mining over the long run.
Copyright 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
by Brian Marshall
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