Many beginning gold prospectors have grand ideas about how much gold they are going to find. They have pictures in their mind of digging up ounces and pounds of gold nuggets, living off the land and getting rich in the process.
In reality, making a living from gold prospecting is pretty tough.
Supplementing your income however, is actually very realistic. You still need to learn the basic skills of gold prospecting and learn how to successfully find gold on a regular basis, but it can certainly be done. I know plenty of guys who do it, and while they aren’t gold mining for a living, they are quite successful and routinely find a few ounces of gold each year, more than enough to pay a few bills or buy some new “toys” every once in a while.
There are some expenses associated with mining however… and if you don’t find a decent amount of gold then you might not even cover the cost of gas.
Here are a few things that I have noticed that some of the more successful gold prospectors are always keeping in mind:
Living Close the the Goldfields
This might be one of the biggest things to consider. You need to live relatively close to a good gold-bearing area. Gas is expensive these days, and if you need to drive hours and hours before you are even ready to start prospecting you are starting way behind the curve. You might need to find a couple grams of gold just to break even with the cost of gas to get there!
Do some research and find a good location that isn’t too far from home. You will find that it is better to prospect close to home at an area that perhaps is only moderately good to an area that might be richer but is several hours from home.
Also Read: Natural Gold Indicators (Part 1)
Learning an Area and Staying Put
The other option is to bring a camp trailer and prospect for an extended period of time. Regardless of how rich an area is, if you are only spending a few days there and then heading home you probably aren’t going to find a whole lot of gold. Staying in an area for weeks at a time is one of the best ways to start piling up the gold. Of course this may not work for you if you have a 9-5 job, but it’s still something to consider when scheduling your prospecting trips. Any way that you can keep costs down and spend more time in the goldfields is a good thing.
The other thing I would recommend is to not only find an area close to home that you can prospect, but take the time to research and learn the area thoroughly. Some prospectors always have the idea that that new area that they have never been is probably loaded with gold, but in all likelihood you will find more gold if you just stay put and learn your area.
Use the Best Equipment for your Location
Along the same lines of learning your area, you need to know what type of equipment will work best for the location that you are gold mining. For efficient gold recovery, it is critical that you have the best equipment for the job.
Are you in an area that has gold nuggets? Then you should probably spend most of your time metal detecting using a good quality detector.
Are you in the desert? Then you will probably need to use a drywasher since you aren’t likely to have access to water.
Is all the gold in your area small, fine textured dust and flakes? Getting good recovery rates on fine gold will make a big impact on your total gold that you find. Researching the right equipment and testing what works best in your areas will help.
Can you Actually Make Money Gold Mining?
I can tell you from personal experience, for the first few years of gold prospecting I didn’t think there was any way that you could actually make a living from prospecting. After spending money on gas, supplies, food, etc. I never covered the cost of expenses. Even when I found a decent amount of gold, it never amounted to more than just a gram or two of gold for a weekends work.
It wasn’t until I met other more experienced and successful gold prospectors that I realized that indeed many of them were finding a good amount of gold, and could certainly make some money at this hobby. Not only were they doing something that they loved, but they were easily paying expenses and finding enough gold to have some extra money too.
So the answer to whether or not you can make a profit from small-scale gold mining is a resounding YES, but you need to be realistic about your expectations and also take the time to learn how it is done. Keeping your expenses low is one of the key factors.
Consider a few of the points made in this article and you can most definitely make some money at gold prospecting. Ultimately however, you need to learn how to find the gold! The gold is what pays the bills at the end of the day.