As featured in the 2018 Nov/Dec Gold Prospectors Magazine
By Dominic Ricci
(Photos by Dominic Ricci)
How would you feel if you were running good gold bearing material, and not getting any pickers when you are in material known to have pickers? The material tests proved it only days before. Now, the fines were great, but where did the pickers go?
The prospecting and testing of material in the weeks and days prior to the 2018 Digger’s Dirt Party – 5-Day Common Dig Outing proved very nice. What suddenly changed?
With nearly 100 participants chomping at the bit to process the gold bearing material, the Dirt Party got started. The Gray Ghost Trommel, Keene High Production Power Sluices, Gold Hog Raptor, Summit Mining Zig Zag Highbanker, Proline Highbanker, D & K Highbanker, the Gold Monster Trommel and two J & E Products Centrifuges were our partners in crime for capturing the gold.
Participants started classifying down material to ½” and bringing buckets of ready to process dirt to all the equipment. Soon we should be capturing the GOLD!
Crew were testing all equipment to make sure we were not losing any gold off the ends of the sluices. Anticipation of the gold was on everybody’s minds.
Rocks that didn’t pass thru the classifiers were stacked in “waste” piles that later Jim Haney (Burnt River Camp Caretaker) would scoop up and relocate to other areas of the camp. (Hint: remember the waste piles!)
Three hours later after running strong it was time to shut down for lunch. Finally, it was time to do our first clean ups. The Gold Recovery station was waiting so they could do a final processing and show the gold during the short afternoon shift.
The concentrates were processed and that’s when it was noticed that the “pickers” were not present. What happened? Where were they? This is big gold country in eastern Oregon. We all have heard, “Big rocks means big gold!”
Time to assess what had happened. Jim, Roy (Gold Recovery Station) and I reviewed the operation and we identified the potential thief of pickers. It was time to change up the process. It was up to me, the “Dirt Master” to change the Party up.
Day #2 started with a morning meeting as usual. When I addressed the participants, I eagerly told them, and showed the final Day #1 pan, that they captured good gold, but what was missing?
“I need to call an audible. Today we are going to run Audible 32!” as I looked on a crowd of blank faces trying to figure out what I was talking about. “We need about twelve people, 30 buckets, picks and shovels and two Uber Dirt drivers. Why? I’m moving part of the Party across the Burnt River and we are going to George “Buzzard” Massie Pick & Shovel People on the Cave Creek (LDMA owns 32 acres of patented property almost right next to the Burnt River Camp) Property. We are going to bucket brigade back to a few select machines to process.”
Shortly after I explained that many participants worked the previous day on classifying material. “Where do the pickers hide?” I asked. “usually attached to the larger rocks!” At that point I encouraged the team of participants to stop classifying except for what was being brought to the two centrifuges. All the other machines can handle rocks up to 4” easy. Plus, we need to Re-Run all the “waste” rocks from yesterday. Rock washers only need to do the larger than 4” rocks.
There is a reason they call Oregon “trommel country!” Grizzly the 6” rocks out and run the rest. We pushed the Gray Ghost Trommel to the limit to clean all the material and rocks that were dumped into it. The plan was in full swing and people were excited to see the new outcome of gold recovery.
Cave Creek had 20+ people gathering material and four Uber Dirt drivers going back and forth. At the end of the day, the “audible 32” was the answer. We reclaimed our lost pickers after rerunning the rocks. They ran more new material from both the original material and the Cave Creek material. YES! The gold came back to were it belonged … in the final clean up pan.
The excitement grew as we really wanted to see the gold after all the changes. As further motivation, I kept saying, “Don’t Leave Any Gold Behind!” Participants laughed, but ac knowledge that they were going to get it all. After all, why let someone else come and get it?
The next few days we processed a lot of material. Good gold bearing material. When we were done, we left dirt and rocks. We captured the gold!
There was excitement on an area (Cave Creek) that had not been touched in years. Members that were staying after the outing was over had “claimed” and area on the Cave Creek property to find their gold.
What did we learn?
Know your material.
Don’t over classify your material.
Know what and how to process material on your equipment (what can it handle).
And finally, . . . Don’t Leave Any Gold Behind!
Dirt party participants really did learn a lot during the common operation, and during some of the fun and games.
“Parties” are more than just finding the mineral gold. You will meet many other people from all over the country. Sharing experiences, lessons, stories and making memories that will last a lifetime.
All I can ask, is do your best, to not leave any gold behind.
Hope to see you "in the dirt", and around a campfire real soon!
Dominic Ricci is the Executive Director of Operations for GPAA/LDMA and can be reached at 800-551-9707 extension 163 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.