Tuesday, November 20, 2012


A blog about prospecting for gold
Gold-lode quartz vein at the Vulture mine, Arizona
A gold mine at the end of the Rainbow - Duncan
gold mine, South Pass, Wyoming
At one time, justice was swift and thieves did not have to wait around on death roll for 20 years. People were a little more honest in those days because thieves were quickly thinned out of the population.
A 7.5 ounce nugget recovered from dredge tailings in Wyoming.

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Gold Processing and Extraction

Visible gold in goethite and quartz, Mary Ellen Mine
If you decide to mine lode gold, you can keep it simple and dig for specimen-grade gold samples from veins and breccias. Although such samples with visible gold are rare and more valuable than the price of gold, if you have the right vein or ore shoot, they are worth pursuing. When ever you see gossans or tawny to brown limonite and goethite in quartz - look for visible gold! Gossans are something prospectors need to learn to recognize.

If you decide to mine your lode using open pit or underground methods - you will need deep pockets to pay for mining as well as permitting. In this case, it may be easier to start looking for a company that has the expertise and deep pockets.

Detrital gold is by for the best type of gold to search for as a prospector as it has already been mined by Mother Nature, and now it is up to you to figure out how to concentrate it. To extract placer (detrital) gold from a creek using a gold pan (not recommended as it will wear out your back), sluice, trommel, dredge or some other concentrating equipment, you will likely need permits from the State or Feds. The government is totally out of touch when it comes to permitting, as in most cases they will try to permit you to death. Some states may even require a permit to operate a gold pan on public property even though this would be as absurd as requiring a permit to operate a fork in a restaurant; however, Democrats were actually talking about this when I left Wyoming. One of the easiest ways to find out rules and regulations for prospecting in your state is to join a local prospecting club. The ICMJ Prospecting and Mining Journal has a number of useful resources you may want to check on.  Many gold prospecting clubs are associated with the Gold Prospectors Association of America: and there are independent groups such as the Wyoming Prospectors Association. When I was in Wyoming, there was a faculty member in the University of Wyoming Geology Department who thought gold panners were polluting Douglas Creek. Obviously, she never tried to operate a gold pan herself, otherwise she would not have made such ridiculous statements.  If you find the right creek, and have a backhoe and trommel, some people can make a nice living.
Gold Panning in the Medicine Bow Mountains. This lady was one of
several who attended one of my field trips to the Medicine Bow Mountains
in the historical Centennial Ridge district. I showed the attendees how to
pan for gold and then let them try their luck in the Middle Fork of the
Little Laramie River. No one found gold at what was known as the
Mother Lode prospect, but some found nice specimens of pyrite (fool's gold)
and several found almandine and pyrope garnet! Pyrope garnet is a
tracer mineral used to find diamond deposits! So, somewhere upstream
(or up-slope) there is an eroding diamond pipe leaking pyrope garnets into
the creek. In addition, many people discovered why it takes a strong back
to pan for gold.
Years ago, I met two prospectors from Lander Wyoming who were working Smith Gulch at South Pass while I was mapping the greenstone belt and old mining districts, and they were recovering about 20 ounces of gold per week (Hausel, 1991). At 1600/ounce, that's only about 32,000 per week. Not bad for two guys.

Often we get used to seeing gold pans filled with gold - this does not really happen in real life; so when we see gold filled pans, remember, the gold was found with some other equipment and placed in the pan for a photo opt.

To assist you in your prospecting, I have several publications that are available for free download on my website.

Panning is an easy process - it just takes a little confidence and a couple of pans full of sand and mud, and soon you will be an expert. Gold has a very high specific gravity (15 to 19.3) which means you are going to have to make a serious effort to wash gold out of your pan. So put a little effort into your panning. If you are ending up with a tablespoon or two of what are known as black sands (mostly magnetite with a few other minerals such as ilmenite, zircon, etc), those have specific gravities of around 4 to 5. Thus gold is going to be 3 to 4 times heavier than those black sands.

Stamp mill at Goldfields, Arizona
While panning for diamonds in California, we recovered a gemstone known as benitoite near Poker Flat and chromian diopside from serpentinites in northern California (Hausel, 1996). In Wyoming, we recovered many gem-quality garnets, some diamonds, and numerous sapphires and rubies from our pan concentrates and found dozens of localities where gold had not been reported before (one was the Laramie City landfill!) (Hausel and others, 1994). In several samples collected in the Laramie Mountains near Vedauwoo, we recovered fluorite (easy to recognize in black sands as it is purple in this area and crushes easily) and many samples with chromian diopside and pyrope garnet in the vicinity of Eagle Rock. This suggests there are undiscovered diamond pipes! While searching for evidence of diamond pipes, we found a distinct, but very small, structurally-controlled vegetation anomaly (41o17'39.96"N; 105o22'46.95"W) along the edge of Eagle Rock. This same area has several beaver ponds to the northwest, any of which could be hiding a diamond pipe.

Not too far from Eagle Rock, we identified other possible diamond pipes that remain a mystery. These included what I originally called the Bowling Pin Anomaly (41o11'15.39"N; 105o19'34.67"W), a circular depression with carbonate in soils that had a couple of bowling pins in the depression when I first visited it several years ago. The entire area has many such anomalies including the HJ17 depression (41o12'01.92"N; 105o19'10.46"W).  Further south (actually just south of the interstate) I also identified 42 highly suspicious cryptovolcanic structures of which anyone of them could be a kimberlite (diamond) pipe. All of these anomalies remain untested due to various access problems.

Arrastra gold concentrator. This was a very primitive grinder with large rocks
attached to a pivot at the center. A mule would walk around in circles pulling
a lever that would continue to drag the boulders over a trough where gold-
bearing quartz would be placed to be crushed.
Other minerals of interest that I found while panning included a lot of white material that was impossible to pan out. It was too heavy! So I stuck it under a black light and with short wave ultraviolet light, it exhibited strong blue fluorescence - it was scheelite (a tungsten ore)! This was recovered from samples (along with some gem-quality iolite) near the old strong mine along the 9th street road in the Laramie Mountains.

And what else did I find in my panned samples - at one location in extreme northwestern Colorado, I recovered 4 diamonds, 17 rubies and 24 pyrope garnets while dry panning. Wow, what a find!  Actually, this was the site of the historical 1872 diamond hoax fraud which occurred near what is now called Diamond Peak (Hausel and Stahl, 1995). This great diamond hoax was amazing as it was an outcrop that was salted in 1871 and 1872 and the prospectors scammed some US Senators (first time in history that scam artists scammed scam artists).

A primitive roller mill displayed at the Douglas Museum, Jerome, Arizona.
Eric Hausel stands adjacent to the mill.
Well, got to go, I hear my wife yelling at me. Until next time, happy prospecting from the GemHunter. You can also follow some of my thoughts on Facebook. And if you are interested in breaking rocks - and what rock hound isn't - you can follow me on my other Facebook pages at Arizona and International.

References Cited

Hausel, W.D., 1991, Economic geology of the South Pass granite-greenstone belt, Wind River Mountains, western Wyoming: Geological Survey of Wyoming Report of Investigations 44, 129 p.

Hausel, W.D., 1996, Pacific Coast diamonds-an unconventional source terrane in Coyner, A.R., and Fahey, P.L., eds., Geology and ore deposits of the American Cordillera, Geological Society of Nevada Symposium Proceedings, Reno/Sparks, Nevada, p. 925-934.
Hausel, W.D., and Stahl, S., 1995, The great diamond hoax of 1872: Wyoming Geological Association Resources of Southwestern Wyoming Guidebook, p. 13-27.
Hausel, W.D., Marlatt, G.G., Nielsen, E.L., and Gregory, R.W., 1994, Study of metals and precious stones in southern Wyoming: Geological Survey of Wyoming Open File Report 94-2, 61 p.

Gold from Douglas Creek Wyoming. Photo shows gold recovered with the black sands removed (the penny is just used for scale). To remove black sands, simply wait until your panned concentrates are dry. Get a large and strong magnet, cover it with a paper towel and slowly sweep over the concentrates - whamo - nearly all of the black sands will be removed. What you have left is a little gold, garnets, mica and if you look close, you may even find diamond indicator minerals such as pyrope garnet, chromian diopside, picroilmenite, chromite and/or diamond. Diamond has a specific gravity of 3.5 and will often end up in the black sand concentrates. Much of the lighter colored material will be removed during panning: most of which will be quartz with a little feldspar. Quartz has a specific gravity of only 2.7.

Mining on Douglas Creek using a long tom and a
dredge on a rotating platform with shovel.

Gold nuggets in gold pan. The nuggets from Julian
Creek were recovered using a sluice and long tom
and not recovered in the pan.

Gold mined from Smith Gulch at South Pass using a backhoe and trommel.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Some of my Favorite Gold and Base Metal Prospects

Miners Delight mine, South Pass, Wyoming
Underground in the Carissa mine, South Pass, WY
Last night I was thinking about all of the gold, platinum-group metal, base and precious stone deposits I've looked at or studied. If one were rich and could get some senators in their pocket, they might be able to make a few mines. Anyway, these are my choices for some good properties.

1. Donlin Creek, AK
2. Rattlesnake Hills (Sandy Mountain), WY
3. Carissa, WY
4. Mexican Hat, AZ
5. Gold Coin, AZ
6. Lost Basin, AZ
7. Vulture Mine, AZ
8. Kurtz-Chatterton, WY
9. Bear Lodge, WY
10. Julian Creek, AK
11. Wolf, WY
12. Drum Mountains, UT
Goldfields, Arizona
13. Miners Delight, WY
14. Mineral Hill, WY
15. South Pass City-Atlantic City-Miners Delight shear complex, WY
16. Penn Mine Complex and altered zone, Seminoe Mountains, WY
17. Copper King, WY
18. Ferris-Haggarty, WY
19. Bannack, MT (and dozens of other gold properties in Montana)
20. Alder Gulch, MT
21. Confederate Gulch, MT
22. Whitehall, MT
23. Zortman, MT
24. Kendall, MT
25. Bear Lodge, WY (Au, REE, Th)
26. Puzzler Hill, WY (Au, Cu, Pt, Pd, Ag)
27. Bald Mountain Porphyry, Kirwin WY (Cu, Ag, Au, Pb, Zn)
28. The entire withdrawn Absaroka Volcanic Range, WY, MT (Au, Ag, Cu, Zn, Pb, W, Ti) (this range has $hundreds of billions in resources, reserves and deposits waiting to be found. But the USFS piecemeal withdrew the entire mountain range over the years).
29. Grizzly Creek colored gemstone deposit, WY (iolite, kyanite, ruby, sapphire).
30. Sherman Mountain colored gemstone deposit, WY (iolite, labradorite)
31. Colorado-Montana-Wyoming diamond province (diamond and other gems).
32. Tabor Grand Mine, WY
33. Duncan Mine, WY
34. Stockwork complex south of Sandy Mountain, Rattlesnake Hills, WY
35. Alkalic intrusive stocks in the Rattlesnake Hills, WY
36. Leucite Hills, WY (diamonds)
37. Copper Creek district, AZ (this district appears to have very high potential, but the US Government allows illegals to run freely through nearby federal parks closed to US citizens, makes it very difficult and dangerous to prospect.

Underground at the Mary Ellen mine, South Pass, Wyoming. Note the faulted
gold-bearing quartz vein in metatonalite.

Underground at Superior Arizona

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

GOLD & DIAMOND PROSPECTING - Free downloadable publications.

Coffee before rock hunting - sketch by the Gemhunter
I apologize to those searching this site for free, down-loadable publications. The links for free gold and diamond reports from the Wyoming Geological Survey are constantly changed apparently to keep the public guessing on how to find these free books and papers on gemstones, gold, diamonds, prospecting and jade. Contact your State legislator to file a complaint about this problem.  If these are free, why does the Wyoming Geological Survey have to continue to change the links? Unfortunately, I had to remove about a dozen papers (again) because of the constant link changes. Below are a few links not associated with the Wyoming Geological Survey. So, if some of the old publications are free, what is the Wyoming Geological Survey IT section and State Geologist is trying to hide? Aren't they suppose to be disseminating information on Wyoming's mineral deposits? 



 iolite gemstone deposits.
Paleoplacer gold. This is a stream deposit that has solidified over time. To mine this, one would have to blast. The largest gold deposit in the world is located at the Witwatersrand, South Africa and is in a paleoplacer

GUIDE TO THE SEMINOE MOUNTAINS (this area has significant gold and iron resources and likely has some nice gold in DeWeese Creek. We also identified a large paleoplacer gold deposit along the northern flank of the range near the Miracle Mile as well as evidence for a very rich diamond deposit) .

Underground in the Comstock mine, Sketch by the

Gold Mining Challenges

Shorty (Sketch by the author).
Government may or may not grant permits to explore or mine, water permits, drilling permits, etc. This is their privilege (at least this is what they will tell you) and we have little recourse unless you have a relative in the Senate or a herd of lawyers to milk your bank account dry. Permits can cost a fortune and take years to obtain (if at all).

A friend of mine and his family were granted a small mining permit on an old gold mine at South Pass that already existed and he even decided to avoid using any chemicals just so he could get a permit in a relatively short time - it took 11 years along with bankruptcy. The DEQ rangers in charge of this permit were not competent (they actually called me to ask about the chemicals they detected in the area - arsenic and carbon: arsenic is natural in this environment as a sulfide and carbon proved there was life on earth).

When I ran exploration in the US for diamonds for an Aussie company, we applied for permits to drill 150 feet deep to test a structure for kimberlite (and hopefully for diamonds). It took nearly 5 months to get the permits, but we had to get permits from Larimer County, Colorado State DEQ and the US Forest Service just to drill one shallow hole. Then the permit was delayed again while our company had to wait more than a week for a forest ranger to drive out to the field to inspect the site.

Obamacare is nothing new - miners of the 19th had an equivalent
they circulated in mines.
One property we leased to put into production had an active stream adjacent to the property and also had water in shear zones (faults) associated with our diamond-bearing kimberlites. Our plan was to build a small mill on the property to mine the diamond ore in Colorado. The state and county (even though they were nearly bankrupt) would not allow us to touch any of the water nor build a mill on the property. So we finally found a permitted sand and gravel quarry miles away to haul ore from the kimberlite to the gravel pit (although this would have been very costly). Next, the county told us they would not grant us a permit to use haul trucks as they did not want us to kick up dirt in the area.

I've been asked many times why did I not claim and develop many of the gold and gemstone deposits I found over the years. The answer is easy.

(1) It was considered unethical for me to claim anything I found or anyone else found while I worked at the Wyoming Geological Survey. However, any politician, any University of Wyoming faculty or staff, or any other state employee could file mining claims. I was the only person (besides another geologist - Ray Harris- who lost his life while working at the WGS) in the entire state who could not file a mining claim. But it was fine with me as I loved to search for new mineral deposits and publish reports and maps.

(2) I learned years ago that it required a fortune to put anything in production. Here are some examples:

Note the quartz veins in the back (roof) of the mine.
After I discovered gold in the Rattlesnake Hills, I figured it would be a  year or so before companies began to explore this region and hopefully outline a minable gold deposit in this favorable terrain. Commercial amounts of gold have now been established in this mining district. Yet it has been more than 30 years and there is still no mine in the Rattlesnake Hills. Even so, there is no question that the major gold deposit that has been outlined at Sandy Mountain, is similar to Cripple Creek, Colorado. Some drill intercepts by Canyon Resources, Newmont Gold and more recently by Evolving Gold have shown considerable gold at depth. The geology of this district is extraordinary and amazing that it sat there until I discovered gold in several types of deposits in 1982. It is a greenstone belt. Greenstone belts are terrains of old Precambrian rocks (former volcanic and sedimentary rocks) that have above normal gold content. This belt was intruded by at least 42 Tertiary (volcanics) alkalic volcanoes and dikes that acted as heat engines to mobilize the gold and concentrate it near these volcanic rocks. It is highly likely that this district has many more hidden and blind gold deposits. In addition, there are also gold deposits in exhalites and in stockworks.

In Alaska, a group of geologists (including me) found one of the largest gold deposits in North America - a deposit that has 4 times as much gold mined in the Klondike. This was discovered in 1988, yet it is still not in production. Why? It is simple - the deposit is located in the middle of nowhere. Recently it was reported capitalization for this gold mine would be as much as $7 billion dollars! Seven billion dollars to build the mine, mill, infrastructure and pay for government permits.

Narrow veins everywhere (white). These and the wall rock inbetween should all be sampled for gold content.
Unfortunately, government agencies tend to think most people are morons and then try to protect our lands from us. I observed this while working in Wyoming for 3 decades as the US Forest Service and US Bureau of Land Management piecemeal withdrew public lands every time there was a possibility for a mine. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Feds began taking one of the largest base and precious metal rich regions in the US. The Absaroka Mountains east of Yellowstone were withdrawn, piece by piece to provide a giant protective boundary around Yellowstone National Park. This might be compared to withdrawing the solar system to protect the sun - it just doesn't make sense.

Yellowstone is one of the most caustic geological terrains in the world and why would such a geological environment that is larger than some states need to be protected by a border that is just as big?  The answer - it doesn't.

The Absaroka Mountains likely have many tens of billions in base and precious metals as it includes giant massive, replacement deposits, porphyry copper deposits similar to those mined in Arizona, veins, mineralized breccias and more. Yet over the years, this area was hacked to death by the Feds with wilderness, primitive, roadless, and other types of withdrawals.

I watched the same happen to the volcanogenic massive sulfide deposits in the Sierra Madre Mountains. Enormous resources of copper, zinc, gold, silver, platinum, palladium all withdrawn every time someone made a discovery. Potentially $billions of metals kept from the public.

Now its happening to South Pass. First, a million ounce+ gold deposit was withdrawn by the state. Now the rest of this gold-rich greenstone belt is being piecemeal withdrawn by the State and Federal government. 

Historically, Wyoming should have produced 50 to 200+ times as much gold as it did. But it hasn't. However, there are tremendous gold resources that are now tied up in withdrawals in the Absaroka Mountains, Yellowstone, Sierra Madre and South Pass.

These are just a few of the many problems related to prospecting and mining. The US Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have confiscated public lands. The only solution is to drastically cut government, eliminate the BLM and FS and only vote for politicians who agree to reverse these withdrawals. Our country has incredible natural resources under its public lands that are not open to the public. 

Sketch, by the author