I just came across a public notice of fact sheets available from the State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources. Although it’s an updated list, included in the repository is a fact sheet outlining Time-Saving Tips for Prospective Gold Seekers published in 2009. Within the sheet, there is one warning for would-be gold miners that is still good advice today and marked in bold lettering: “Check first!”
Land status is perhaps the most important item confronting the would-be miner or prospector — and oftentimes the most frustrating. State, Federal, Native, and private land ownership all affect the miner. Mineral closings could exist. Check first! Again, the mining information offices are a good place to start.
There are plenty of other warnings to the recreational gold miners of Alaska, including comments on permits, claims, and regulations. And ‘check first’ is good advice when it comes to any of these items.
Check first is also good advice for the professional mining industry.
From a volatile commodities market to financing, safety, and employment issues, the pressure on mining companies to increase efficiency and productivity has never been greater. With a fierce competitive landscape and substantial capital investments at stake, mining companies need to quickly identify and recover the most economically viable resources.
Miners seek solutions for rapid geochemical analysis that will enable them to increase discovery success rates, identify drill targets quickly, make on-site decisions about whether to stop or continue drilling, and decide where to focus on the grid. One solution is to check first with handheld X-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers. These portable mining analyzers provide rapid, on-site qualitative screening directly in-situ or lab-quality quantitative analysis on prepared samples, bypassing the costly and time-consuming process of sending samples to off-site laboratories and waiting days, or even months, for critical data. With rapid sample analysis, you get real-time geochemical data to guide drilling decisions, enable high-productivity operations, and gain a competitive advantage.
For underground mining, geologists perform ore grade control to figure out where the most profitable ore bodies are, in terms of location and mineral concentration variability. There is a need to check first as ore deposits are inconsistent in nature, having high concentrations of metals in one area but much lower concentrations in others. XRF instruments provide fast acquisition of geochemical data for ore deposit modeling, easily determining elemental constituents for most natural low concentration samples, as well as high grade ore concentrates. Ore-grade assessment helps manage blasting, excavation, and hauling activities, optimizing the site blend provided to the concentrator while preventing grade dilution or the erroneous transport of ore to the waste dump.
Additionally, handheld XRF analyzers can help check for pathfinder elements, which are very important in facilitating the exploration of various types of ore deposits including precious metal mineralization. In most instances – such as mining, ore grade control, and exploration of rich zones – precious metals (including gold) can be detected directly. In other occurrences – where very low concentrations of these metals are under exploration – pathfinder elements, which can be enriched with precious metals, are used to locate potential zones. These pathfinder elements have a genetic relationship with the precious metals, and, therefore, can successfully be used as exploration tools.
Another way to use handheld XRF analyzers in gold mining is to check the mineral sample … and make sure it’s not pyrite you’re actually seeing. Pyrite is called “Fool’s Gold” because it resembles gold to the untrained eye. While pyrite has a brass-yellow color and metallic luster similar to gold, pyrite is brittle and will break rather than bend as gold does. Gold leaves a yellow streak, while pyrite’s streak is brownish black. Pyrite is a mineral with the chemical formula FeS2 and it does not contain any precious metals, whatsoever. Therefore, any direct differentiation between the two should be fairly easy with portable x-ray fluorescence (XRF) analyzers. However, if the pyrite mineral is covered with a layer of another substance, then it really is a question of what that other substance is and how thick is the layer.
The best way to tell if you have found gold is to check first.