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THE BIG STRIKE

On my way to a hike this morning I came across three crusty Canadians who were mining gold – really. I asked if I could watch. Within fifteen minutes they had me operating a pick and shovel, which is the hardest part of “dry panning.” The process is simple enough: rock and dirt is shoveled onto a vibrating screen. The larger rocks are swept aside by a leather-gloved fellow while the smaller rocks and dirt (and hopefully, gold) fall through. A gasoline powered fan blows away the fine particles while the remainder falls down to a sloped board with ridges. Gold, being denser than rock, is caught behind these ridges and most of the rock tumbles on down and is discarded. After about thirty minutes, a small quantity of material remains in the separator. This material is washed in a pan. The rock is swirled off and gold, if there is any, remains in the pan.

The material that was processed during my half hour with the miners netted about twice as much gold as they had gleaned earlier and collected in the small glass vial (above.) This was to be expected since they had teamed up with “Lief the Lucky.”

I asked the fair-market value of this much gold. “About ten dollars” was their estimate. Let’s see – four men working for half an hour to net ten dollars. If we don’t count overhead, that works out to about five dollars per man per hour.

I moved on.

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THE DRY PART

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THE FINAL (WET) PART

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