Finding and retrieving gold of any type is not that easy for most of us. It is especially true for fine and micro gold, which in reality is a good part of what is out there to be recovered.
This was on my mind for some time since I was noticing that all of the gold I am finding, is ¼” and under. (See part 2.) Talking to other Prospectors/Miners about this, I found that recovering the small stuff was more the rule – not the exception, and the smaller the gold – the more difficult it was to capture easily. I really liked my present Sluice (see part 2.), but what if I’m missing out on extra gold and don’t even know it? Also, just what size is considered Fine and Micro gold anyway? Looking at the MESH TO MICRON CONVERSION CHART (go here), and knowing that a good eye can only resolve to around 270 Mesh, I settled on anything beyond 200 Mesh to be micro gold. “So how can I get these small particles and what’s out there to do it with?”- I wondered. Starting to research the subject, the first device I came across was called a Miller Table.
A Miller Table is basically a flat roughened plain that you put on a slant, and then run a certain amount of water down this surface with your fine gold and gravels being poured onto it. As the water moves the lighter material away, the gold, being heavier, gets caught up on the roughened surface. The original Miller Tables were made of Slate and were used by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians to process powered hard rock and also by the Old Timers of yesterday.. Though this system has some success at gathering fine and micro gold, it lacks speed to get the job done in a timely way with any bulk volume of concentrates. In spite of this problem, Miller Table like devices, going under many fancy names, are still used today, but by mostly recreational type miners processing small amounts of gravels.
Another approach I found to claiming fine and micro gold in a Sluice was to use a knurly type material. This technique goes way back to probably one of the first ways humans sluiced for gold in a commercial sense. Remember Jason and the Golden Fleece? (Probably sheep skin.) This story goes way back to BC. Times and no one really knows just how old it is, but it seems to me that the reality of the story is set in symbolism and fact. Surprisingly, the idea of the Golden Fleece relating to gold collecting is still alive and well today and survives in the Caucasus Mountains of Georgia. In fact there is a Touring company there in Georgia that will take you into the Mountains where the locals are using this traditional method to capture the gold just like in ancient times. Pretty cool I think. See more here: Explore Outdoor. Other cultures have also used knurly materials like for instance Hemp and Cotton bring used for Sluices in Japan, Burlap used by the Chinese in the Snake and Columbia Rivers of the U.S.A. and elsewhere, including Blankets used by many different cultures as well. In modern times many miners use Miners Moss, Carpeting, Astroturf and various Belting in an effort to catch fine and micro gold.
At this point I should mention another method that was very popular for many years, but is now mostly phased out by Law, was to coat Copper Plates with Mercury then run crushed gravels or beach sands down the plates with water which are held within a Sluice. When finished, the Mercury was scraped off the Plates, then they Retorted, Shammed or “Potato-ed” the Mercury from the gold.
All of these methods work to one degree or another, but with most systems, they have various drawbacks. After careful consideration I decided to see if perhaps there was a way to make a Miller Table work at a faster rate so to make it more commercially acceptable. To this endeavor I spent a lot of my time seeing if it was possible. I was slowly making progress with this project when one day while I was demonstrating (like the video below) the Pyramid Pro Production and Maverick Finishing Pans at a Gold Show in Salem. Oregon, this very large man came up to me and changed my life by saying “Would you like to see something?”
To be continued…….
The Fossicker 2015
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