Mining Equipment For the Weekend Prospector

Most persons just getting into weekend gold prospecting don’t know about how to get started especially when gathering the tools that they might need.  So I am going to get you thinking about mining equipment you might want to take with you when looking for gold.

First of course are digging tools.  Most of us have an old shovel laying around along with some garden tools like a pick for loosening hard ground and some type of short handled scoop.  In the old days a pick Axe and a shovel and an old iron skillet or gold pan were what the old timers used to dig gold bearing materials out of the ground to pan.

Today we have a lot more mining tools than the donkey prospector.  We have many modern gold pans from around the world. .Some of them are better than others.  I have tried them all and have a favorite of my own.  You will find yours too eventually.  

There are picks and scrapers, and tools for digging materials out of cracks in rock.  There are vacuum packs that are essentially a portable vacuum with a 5 gallon bucket attached to the bottom of it for sucking up material out of holes, crevices and cracks on bedrock.  This is an important tool for working a dry wash or an old river bed in gold country.

Then there are high-bankers which have motors that suck water up into a sluice that has a receiver tray at the top that you shovel your materials into.  The water washes the materials down the sluice bed and catches the gold and black sands in the riffles.  The lighter materials wash off the end of the riffles.

Some high bankers have been made into smaller models that fit into its own carrying tub that can contain the water that you recycle through your riffle arrangement.  This allows you to go to remote areas with 5 gallons of water  to recover gold with.

You also can choose a tool called a dry washer that comes in various sizes and can be gasoline motor driven or battery driven.  These work on the principle of vibrating the lighter materials off the riffle bed after you have fed the receiver classifier screen on the unit.

There are gold wheels that are essentially a spiral pan with a receiver hole in the center that dumps gold into a small cup on the backside.  These sit in a rectangular tub and are powered by a battery.  Materials are fed into the unit by hand in smaller amounts and is a slower process, kids love to do this part.

Dredges are floating high-bankers that have a suction nozzle that is used underwater to suck materials up onto the riffles to catch the heavier gold and black sand materials that get dropped in the riffle areas.  This type of equipment is heavier and can require more than one person to operate.  There are however backpacker models that a person can go it alone and hike into a spot to dredge.  I know a guy who dredges in California and who had all of the materials in caught in the riffles assayed…turns out that even though there was no visible gold after he picked the nuggets out. The assay stated he had 12 ounces of gold per ton of his riffle materials.

This is why you should always save the black sands you get from your mining efforts for evaluating later.  What to do with your black sands is a whole other topic in itself.

Lastly for the small miner there is metal detecting which is one of my favorite ways to hunt for gold. There are many types of detectors out there.  I like Mine-lab detectors but also use other models.  Detectors with modern technology can locate metals in the ground and can even identify the metal.  

In closing I would like to say that I have been prospecting for many years and have met many wonderful people that have become my friends and who go with me into the field.  We work hard together but we have fun and we do find gold and get some good exercise and sunshine to boot.