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It is a pretty common question.
"What do I do with my mixed gold quartz rocks?"
Most of our samples end up on our coffee tables as show pieces. Showing off to our friends about the "Mother Lode" or just as a general conversation piece. Of course the question inevitably comes up,
"How do you get the gold out?"
Well it isn't easy, but we will get to that later. When you do find quartz and gold together, examine it, Does it have worn edges or are they sharp and well defined? The reason I bring this up is ALL GOLD COMES FROM DEEP WITHIN THE EARTH and is eroded with time, freeing it from it's quartz prison for us to find.
If you start finding quartz and gold pieces when you are mining, I recommend you start looking for the source.
Due to it's weight, gold nuggets will only travel so far down a stream or river. Flake and fine powder can be carried much further. What isn't talked about very often is the distance gold will travel while still suspended in quartz. Of course we are always looking for the source of gold veins even while working a stream.
I think the biggest reason so few miners will try to find the source of placer deposits is convenience.
- It is easier to pan and sluice the water way than it is to "risk" wasting our time looking for a hard rock deposit.
- When you do find quartz with thin (or large) veins of gold throughout it you are faced with how to:
a) Stake a hard rock claim.
b) How do I get this gold out so I can sell it?
However, if you pan or sluice for gold a lot, it is close to inevitable that you fill find a quartz / gold combination soon or later. I am a hard core. I always want to know where the gold comes from. It is nice to have that yellow treasure in your hand but if there is an outcropping half a mile up stream that is the source of all this wealth... I want to know where it is...
I went over what types of colors of rocks and things to look out for in Ancient riverbeds and high benches but the quick and dirty version of finding gold in quartz rocks is to look for rusty, oxide stains knobs located on hillsides. Also look on stained sections of a river or stream bank. These brown / orange sections of ground are typically oxidized iron pyrite formation which are commonly found in quartz with gold. Once you have found this dirty quartz, break off a piece with your hammer (or shovel) and then take your knife blade and do the scratch test on any thin gold lines that may be present.
Three things I need to mention:
1) Not all white quartz will contain gold lines.
2) Gold is also found in non-rusty quartz.
3) Some thicker (cruder) gold lines will be iron pyrite.
The reason we do the scratch test is to determine if we have located gold of golden colored pyrite. Gold will dent and is soft. Anything else that is not a valuable will crumble. There is an outside chance you could find platinum which is silver grey in color. It is much rarer than our favorite yellow metal and the odds are against such a lucky discovery. I should also mention that platinum can occur by itself but is usually found with nickle and copper ores and not in quartz, but hey, you could pick up some smaller pieces or flakes when panning, you never know.
OK, back to the quartz story. Early miners used this quartz / gold combination to find most of the hard rock mines throughout North America, usually near water ways. When they found pieces with rounded edges they would work their way back upstream until:
1) The rock / mineral combination chunks got bigger.
2) These tell tale samples occurred commonly and with sharp unworn edges.
3) Early prospectors used to get really excited when there were only small amounts of "panable" gold in the stream if these samples were present. They know the gold hadn't had time or distance to be eroded free from the quartz so the hard rock location had to be close by.
To some extent, we can follow discovery methods from previous miners. We have the advantage of knowledge however, we have the disadvantage of most of the gold bearing areas have been turned upside down before we get to them. Keep in mind that these turned over areas are almost always focused on the valley bottoms where the water flows and not on hillsides or rocks formations surrounding the lower areas.
I have shown gold veins in white quartz to other prospectors before and very few of them have shown any interest at all or even understood what they are looking at. They go back to shoveling gravel through their sluice boxes looking for large gold nuggets which are quite rare in these well worked areas.
By keeping our eyes open we can learn to notice different minerals or potential hard rock claims. When we do find some very good mineral sign, all that it will cost us to secure our potential fortune is the price of a claim. That is "dirt cheap" for the huge returns a good mine can produce.
Gold mixed with quartz. It has been there all along waiting for you to find.
In Part Two "Gold Mixed with Quartz Extraction" I will show you the most popular and effective ways to extract gold from quartz rock.
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