For most of the world, 2020 has been an absolute “dumpster fire” of a year. First the Amazon was burning, then Australia. A short time later COVID-19 made its way around the globe and changed the world as we know it. Hospitals are at capacity, supplies are in short order, people have been ordered to social distance themselves from each other and the economy is about to hit a proverbial iceberg.
Chances are that if you’re reading this you were never much for socializing. As a prospector, you probably much prefer the company of wide, open spaces. When others were lining up at Costco for toilet paper you were probably already stocked up and headed for the hills just like you do every spring. Often thought of as being self-sufficient, tougher than a railroad spike and as hard than the hammer that crosses it, prospectors are a unique breed. And while the outside world doesn’t usually have a huge impact on a prospector’s day to day, I think the current global situation has some pretty serious implications with regard to the future of prospecting.
Good, bad, or indifferent. It should come as no surprise that when the economy takes a turn for the worst, the price of gold (and many other precious metals/minerals) usually reach new highs. Mines that were closed will begin to open, finding work for all the folks who weren’t deemed “vitally necessary”. Roads to the mines will need improved, processing plants will operate in full swing and manufacturing plants will have the materials necessary to make the world turn again.
Every time the price of gold starts to climb, the recreational prospector (myself included) gets a bit more motivated to seek out their fortune and people who’ve never prospected before might be wondering aimlessly through your backyard looking for their piece of the pie. They might even just be trying to take the family out for a fun distraction while maintaining social distancing.
The solitude you once found on your claims might require you to be a bit more vigilant about clearly identifying your boundaries. It’s all honkey dory at the gold shows and club meets, but the fact of the matter is gold has been known to bring out the crazy in people. We’ve been encouraging the “Weekend Joe” to sign up, bring the kids and get involved for years and when they do, I hope that we maintain the same enthusiasm we once had for them to become a part of our industry. I’m writing this to remind you that we all preach to keep the right to mine in the free world and if you want to keep doing so, the industry as whole will need your help to educate “Weekend Joe” and in a friendly and welcoming manner. Of course, this means instilling our core values of being respectful of each other’s space/claims, teaching them the ropes of pursuing happiness while abiding by the law and conserving our great public lands.
When time comes (and it will), take the opportunity to encourage and empower the green horns so that they might someday uphold our code of ethics. One day, it might provide the votes needed to keep our right to prospect! In the time of Tesla’s and Eco-consciousness, it’s also important that we do our part to show the strides we’ve taken to innovate environmentally-friendly mining solutions and to remind the good people that if it’s not mined or farmed… it doesn’t exist. If we turn our backs on the next generations, they will surely cause more damage to the recreational prospecting and mining industry than ever before.
So, remember; you can socially distance and socially influence at the same time. Everyone deserves the right to prospect and power in numbers will secure our future for generations to come.
Brandon Ray Neice
Visit me on YouTube at DrTones24k and be sure to check out my book “The Metal Detecting Bible” available on Amazon or through your local book stores.