Problems You Will Have To Deal With When Placer Hand Mining

Problems You Will have to Deal with When Placer Handmining 

There are a few operational problems should be considered when looking at going placer handmining, these relate to the physical nature of placer materials and the environmental  conditions under which they will be found in.

 Streams with steep gradients often have poorly sorted sands and gravels, meaning a wide range of size will be encountered, up to cobbles and large, irregularly shaped boulders. Other debris and tree roots may be present too. Gravels and materials that have lain in place for long periods of times become compacted
(that is, bound up tightly by matrix or with clay, and cemented sometimes with leach minerals and sulphides, almost to the point of being solid rock), which makes them really hard to break up with water alone. Irregularities in the bedrock or clay surface underlying placer materials become important in mining as this is the area where the richest gold values are usually found.  Be prepared to run into large cobbles and boulders as these will be present in gravels that contain gold values, it takes a fair amount of water to move gold, the same is to be said of the cobbles and boulders, you can’t have one without the other.

Handling Boulders

For handling boulders, you will be needing some specialized tools and equipment, pry bars, chains, ropes, cables, heavy duty pulleys, snatch blocks, and winches or come-a-longs, have found that a set of heavy pickup tire chains work real good for cradling rocks and boulders when attempting to winch them along.  A lot better than trying to make a harness out of ropes or cables, extra weight to pack in but will last almost forever and can be fixed with Quik-Links in a snap. 


Try to take the time to plan your work area, look it over and figure out where you are going to really start and plan to move you boulder into that area after working as much of the paying gravel as possible.  This actually does three things at one time, you work the gravels, which leaves you with a hole to find, generally it is easier to move rocks downhill into a hole, which you are now have available, it is far easier to pull, skid roll a rock or boulder into a hole than uphill or even across level ground.  Now by moving your boulders into the hole you have started the reclamation work that is at some time required to be completed.  There by, now opening up new gravels to process in your sluice box, highbanker or whatever gold recovery device you are using. 


For moving large rocks or small boulders at times it is possible to just roll then across the ground, or even use a wheel barrow if there is room for this and the rocks are light enough to safely pickup without wrenching your back.  For larger rocks I would look at using a longer pry bar and a cobble rock to lever these small boulders over and around, use physics to your advantage. 


One thing to point out to people is that never put yourself downhill/below the boulder you are trying to move if at all possible, if the rock decides to roll when you are in that spot, well it will hurt, main or kill you, get the picture.  Use the pulleys or snatch block, so that you are off to the side of direction of pull/movement, takes a bit more time to rig all this up but well worth it in the long run.  Using snatch blocks and pulleys, with a simple little come- a-long you can easily move boulders up to 1000 to 2000 kgs or 2000 or 4000 lbs.

Planning and forethought will make for better working conditions and gold recovery, so plan to play it safe out there.



























Trouble With Clays and Cemented Gravels 

Clay  must be broken up quite thoroughly before passing through the grizzly on any gold-recovery equipment because of the capacity of clay to still be holding fine gold nuggets and particles within the matrix itself.  Clay also has a wonderful ability to to imbed itself with gold particles and carry the gold out with the discharge.


The breaking of clays can be accomplished using a couple of things, one is a puddling box (clay material is shovelled into this box and then broken up with the use of water, and a hoe or rake before being allowed to pass into the sluice. The next most common equipment used is a hopper on a highbanker that gives a hand miner the room for effective washing of the clay bound gravels and gold. The larger mechanical operations use heavy duty large trommels, slow turning circular tubes with spray bars for washing and classifying screens at the lower end for sizing the gravels before proceeding into the sluice boxes.


When working with clay heavy gravels, a slow steady material feed to higher water flow rate is best for optimal gold recovery, as a heavy clay water mixture can and will load up the riffles and reduce the gold recovery of the sluice box.

Cleaning Bedrock


Cleaning bedrock, now here’s where it gets interesting, as most of the richest ground has just about always been found on bedrock, so once we get to the exposed stuff well this is where it’s at.  The softer the bedrock the better, now this may sound like a kinda odd statement, soft bedrock, well this is any bedrock that is fractured, weathered and can be readily broken apart with simple hand tools or by ripping with a cat crawler or excavator.  It doesn’t need to be blasted!!


So once you’re down to bedrock, more or less, it’s time to get dirty, knee pads are a must have item, as well pry bars, hand picks , trowels and a bucket is mainly all you’ll need.  A gasoline powered vacuum will make cleaning the bedrock much easier as well, one real interesting item that has come along  lately, and appears that it would work real good for cleaning bedrock, is the Hydro Force 250, a dryland suction nozzle, haven’t used one yet, but the video does like promising.


Will continue this another day........Greywolf








To contact us: www.greywolfhighbanker.com


E-mail   greywolfminer@yahoo.ca

Sometime you will have to move boulders uphill to get at the gold bearing gravels and clays underneath, use you head and not your back, build a ramp!!!









Plain and simple to do, yes it takes a bit of time, but then Rome wasn’t built in a day either, even the Egyptians used ramps to move heavy objects.



    Breaking Clay Gravels in Pudding Box

  Panning for Gold ,along the Fraser River

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