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Gold Prospecting Forums - General => General Gold Prospecting Forum => Topic started by: sunshine on December 19, 2012, 04:00:22 PM

Title: How much dirt can a man realistically move?
Post by: sunshine on December 19, 2012, 04:00:22 PM
I was going thought some of my old notes and found this to use as rules of thumb in the field. 

How much dirt can one man move?  Or maybe, if the guys name were Chuck, how much muck would Chuck chuck if Chuck wanted to chuck muck?

Simple answer is: it depends. 

There are about 400 of the standard large plastic gold pans to the yard.  A yard is 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet or about the amount that would fill a utility trailer or back of a pickup truck.  A more exact calculation would need to consider how full the pan and its exact size to determine the volume, whereby there are 46,656 cubic inches in a cubic yard.

All things being equal, someone with a pan and classifier can process about 0.2 yards per day.  That is a full day and hard work.  .  That does not include the time needed for digging away overburden or moving big rocks, long lunches or wandering around. 

That same person could shovel all day into a sluice or rocker and process about one yard if the dirt is properly classified.  This does not include the time to handle the resulting concentrates.

Dredges come with different hose sizes.  The production volume advertized is typically calculated based upon sand or other finely classified material and not the reality of the gold creek.  Also the efficiency of the operator and quantity of helpers makes a huge difference.  It takes time to move away rocks, clear plug ups, move equipment, etc.  When the gravel is hard packed, it also takes time to suck the silt and small rocks around larger rocks to loosen them up.  Also, it is prudent to slow down whenever good gravel near bedrock is accessed, so not to overload the sluice.  That said, rule of thumb is 1 yard per day for a two inch dredge and the volume will double with every one inch increase in hose size.  Therefore, a 5 inch dredge ought to process about 4 yards per day.   

Example calculations:

Suppose sampling finds a pay streak in assorted hard pack gravel.  Using a standard gold pan there are an average of 3 fine gold (40 mesh) particles and 1 medium gold (16 mesh) particle per pan.
   Fine gold       = 3 pieces x .03 grains   = 0.09 grains
   Medium gold = 1 pieces x 1 grains    = 1.00 grains
    Total weight            = 1.09 grains.
With 400 pans to the yard, the grade would be 1.09 x 400 or 436 grains/yd.  With 480 grains in the troy oz, the grade can also be expressed as .0908 oz/yard.  A small 5 yard gravel bar would then yield 4.54 oz of gold.  A person with a pan and shovel would be getting under 0.2 oz per day.  However, with a sluice or rocker box the production increases to almost an oz per day and the pay streak is cleaned out in less than a week.

What typically happens with a beginner is they fail to sample fully and get excited about a little bit of float gold.  For example, three 0.012 grain colors in a pans of overburden, may look interesting.  Likely, the grade improves within the bottom 6 inches (above and within) the bedrock.  They immediately set up production on the overburden too because they “don’t want to miss a single piece of gold”.  How do they do now?
Overburden float gold = (0.012 x 3 x 400) = 14.4 grains/yard or .03 oz/yard.  If they can get paid $1,300/oz for their gold, they will be achieving $39/day before expenses for a sluicing operation on the overburden.  Should they process the overburden – NO!

Title: Re: How much dirt can a man realistically move?
Post by: ebuyc on December 19, 2012, 04:22:41 PM
I was going thought some of my old notes and found this to use as rules of thumb in the field.  

How much dirt can one man move?  Or maybe, if the guys name were Chuck, how much muck would Chuck chuck if Chuck wanted to chuck muck?

Simple answer is: it depends.  

There are about 400 of the standard large plastic gold pans to the yard.  A yard is 3 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet or about the amount that would fill a utility trailer or back of a pickup truck.  A more exact calculation would need to consider how full the pan and its exact size to determine the volume, whereby there are 46,656 cubic inches in a cubic yard.

All things being equal, someone with a pan and classifier can process about 0.2 yards per day.  That is a full day and hard work.  .  That does not include the time needed for digging away overburden or moving big rocks, long lunches or wandering around.  

That same person could shovel all day into a sluice or rocker and process about one yard if the dirt is properly classified.  This does not include the time to handle the resulting concentrates.

Dredges come with different hose sizes.  The production volume advertized is typically calculated based upon sand or other finely classified material and not the reality of the gold creek.  Also the efficiency of the operator and quantity of helpers makes a huge difference.  It takes time to move away rocks, clear plug ups, move equipment, etc.  When the gravel is hard packed, it also takes time to suck the silt and small rocks around larger rocks to loosen them up.  Also, it is prudent to slow down whenever good gravel near bedrock is accessed, so not to overload the sluice.  That said, rule of thumb is 1 yard per day for a two inch dredge and the volume will double with every one inch increase in hose size.  Therefore, a 5 inch dredge ought to process about 4 yards per day.    

Example calculations:

Suppose sampling finds a pay streak in assorted hard pack gravel.  Using a standard gold pan there are an average of 3 fine gold (40 mesh) particles and 1 medium gold (16 mesh) particle per pan.
   Fine gold       = 3 pieces x .03 grains   = 0.09 grains
   Medium gold = 1 pieces x 1 grains    = 1.00 grains
    Total weight            = 1.09 grains.
With 400 pans to the yard, the grade would be 1.09 x 400 or 436 grains/yd.  With 480 grains in the troy oz, the grade can also be expressed as .0908 oz/yard.  A small 5 yard gravel bar would then yield 4.54 oz of gold.  A person with a pan and shovel would be getting under 0.2 oz per day.  However, with a sluice or rocker box the production increases to almost an oz per day and the pay streak is cleaned out in less than a week.

What typically happens with a beginner is they fail to sample fully and get excited about a little bit of float gold.  For example, three 0.012 grain colors in a pans of overburden, may look interesting.  Likely, the grade improves within the bottom 6 inches (above and within) the bedrock.  They immediately set up production on the overburden too because they “don’t want to miss a single piece of gold”.  How do they do now?
Overburden float gold = (0.012 x 3 x 400) = 14.4 grains/yard or .03 oz/yard.  If they can get paid $1,300/oz for their gold, they will be achieving $39/day before expenses for a sluicing operation on the overburden.  Should they process the overburden – NO!



Some interesting numbers. Some seem a little low though - only 4 yards a day on a 5" dredge? I could dig and classify down to 1/4" and fill my truck bed in a full day (assuming I was working next to it.) I would want a 6 pack afterwords though! I usually work half that much as not to kill myself!
Also a full sized truck can hold 2-3 yards of material. My truck bed is approximately 8' x 5' x 2' = 80/27 = 2.9 yards.
Chuck wants to muck... Yeah that would be me probably, work all the overburden and then scratch my head when the float gold disappears! All because I was too afraid to lose a single flake... haha I am getting better though  {-applause-}


Good thing for me is I don't prospect for profit, just entertainment and the chance of purty yeller gold. If I prospected for profit it would feel to much like a gamble to me. I don't gamble, but I do dig holes for the exercise and to say I did it?! If I wasn't prospecting I would be looking for mushrooms or a rubber boa or who knows. I would still be in the woods and I am not a big hunter or fisherman. I go hunting and I like to fish, but I like hiking and exploring like you posted about in the partnership thread. I have had a rock collection since I was old enough to remember and my wife has a serious rock garden! HAHA


My 2 bits...

 {[update}]

I did want to add, in case I haven't said so yet; thanks for being on the forum. Your expertise shows and your experience and stories are a great asset to this forum. I am not trying to argue with your numbers, just seemed a little low in my mind. But of course I always put more on my plate then I should!
I also fill my 5 gal buckets 2/3 full usually I can't seem to stop at 1/2... go figure!





Title: Re: How much dirt can a man realistically move?
Post by: IdahoBob on December 19, 2012, 04:56:05 PM
I'll attest to Chance's 2/3 full...more like 3/4...then he RUNS them up to this rig and meets me half way back on my first crawl to the truck carrying 1/3 to 1/2 buckets.
I swear the guy has a 40" stride !

Bob
Title: Re: How much dirt can a man realistically move?
Post by: Former Guest on December 19, 2012, 05:04:43 PM
What i do is grab 1 gallon sample and screen down and run over my seperator take results and times by 168 to get value by cubic yard. use imperial gallons which says 168 gallons in a cubic yaard. keep it simple and your in the ball park with your results. or time yourself for 168 shovel fulls over your sluice for cubic yards run that day. keep track of shovel fulls. cheers Ray
Title: Re: How much dirt can a man realistically move?
Post by: overtheedge on December 19, 2012, 05:11:52 PM
Your figures are wrong.

From MIRL#76:
1 particle of 14 mesh at CSF=0.38 weighs 8.89mg or 7.3 particles/grain
1 particle of 30 mesh at CSF=0.30 weighs 887ug or 73/grain

Both the 14 mesh and 30 mesh particles are larger than what you used in your example and weigh 1/7th of the weight you quoted. I also use chunky gold CSF rather than flat.

There are 64.8 milligrams to the grain.
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I'm turning 62 this coming year and I rarely pan less than 1 yard/day using a classifier and a 15" pan. There are right at 165 pans to the yard the way I fill the pan. How do I know? I weigh the pan and it runs just under 10kg plus or minus a skintch. Then I count pans by dropping a pebble in a container.

There are about 1500kgs (3300 pounds) to the yard.

This gets even more interesting when you figure this is yards panned and NOT bank yards processed. If the rock is fist sized or larger, it doesn't go in the pan. Recovery is rated at ounces per bank-run yard.

I've worked a lot of ground locally that ran around 30 pans per bank yard.

I double checked with an article written by Jim Halloran in Nov 2012 ICMJ and by his figures, a 12" steel pan runs 384 pans/yard.
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When highbanking (10" wide), I average about 4.5 yards a day. A full #2 shovel weighs around 4-4.5kgs.

My 2" home-made and 2.5" Keene dredges average about 0.5 yards an hour. Many of the folk in Alaska average 2 yards an hour running 4" dredges (most popular size).
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Quote
... .03 oz/yard.  If they can get paid $1,300/oz for their gold, they will be achieving $39/day before expenses for a sluicing operation on the overburden.  Should they process the overburden – NO!
That is 33.3 yards per ounce. I'll shovel this stuff all day long in a heartbeat.
33.3/4.5 = 4 ounces a month.
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I completely agree with the need for everyone to sample like your life depends on it. If you spend $200 a weekend using $2000 worth of equipment and bring home $6 worth of gold, ... well your spouse will remember that you have to sleep sometime.
eric
Title: Re: How much dirt can a man realistically move?
Post by: coolshivers on December 19, 2012, 06:24:29 PM
I just shovel till I can't move. That's how much a man can move in a day.
Title: Re: How much dirt can a man realistically move?
Post by: Former Guest on December 19, 2012, 06:32:33 PM
About sums that up but i do try to keep count of shovels. Sometimes hard to rember the count so out the window that thery goes lol But usually try to keep track of this my number is around 800 shovel fulls not always reached but try for that number cheers Ray
Title: Re: How much dirt can a man realistically move?
Post by: kodibear on December 19, 2012, 07:03:34 PM
What you are saying is very interesting but I believe some of your figures are way off. As for how much gravel a person can shovel in a day, it varies greatly per person. Someone who has been working gravel for 30 yrs or so will process a lot more per hr than someone with little experience. I saw this 1st hand last summer. I had a couple of 40 yr olds with not much experience on one of my claims for a day with their high banker. The amount of gravel they moved was pretty pitiful but it was obvious after watching them for a few minutes what their problem was. They didn't know how to move material. They didn't even have a pick. It is a long time since I was 40 & I could shovel more gravel by myself in an hour or 2 than they did all day. Technique, technique, technique. Comes with experience. Your dredge figures are off, once again experience. I don't work gravel that has less than 50 colors per pan, prefer much more. The gold around here must be lighter than where you work or I would be rich by now. As for testing I have a wooden box that holds exactly 1 cu ft. Pan that out, weigh gold & multiply by 32 ( # of cu ft of "loosepack" gravel per yd) Please don't take offense by my "opinions". I very much enjoy your posts. We are never to old to learn.
Title: Re: How much dirt can a man realistically move?
Post by: Former Guest on December 19, 2012, 07:24:21 PM
At my age i am still in shape i shovel at a pace for all day, seems few more breaks lol at my age but try to hold my own on a shovel. spent 25 years on drilling rigs dug few holes in my time and was on a farm for many years growing up. Ilearned to set a pace that you can go all day like that. No hurry shoveling into the box just keep at it all day for great gold recovery cheers Ray
Title: Re: How much dirt can a man realistically move?
Post by: sunshine on December 21, 2012, 08:26:08 AM
This is the great thing about this forum.  All statements get a review by one's peers and usually by folks with a great deal of practical experience.  My numbers originated from a couple of articles and books that I read maybe 25 years ago (author Glenn Lever being one of them).  Over time, I decreased the amount I could pratically achieve because of the type of material I normally encountered and the fact that my system potentially did not capture all of the gold.  I used it mostly to get away from "two cents looks like a hundred bucks" when counting colours.  Or one of my first mistakes was doing too few samples and doing some field math on a "paystreak" before getting really excited about the spot.  It took me half a day to get my equipment in place and set up.  I ran full out dawn to dusk the next day and in the cleanup got about $20 of gold.  I backed into the math again and realized I had made some very simple errors.  Every operation runs into problems, such as big rocks that need moving and the time taken is time I was not producing.  My samples were not entirely representative, as I had to make my hole larger than the actual paystreak.  As I dug deeper, some of the barren material from the sides also filled the hole. 

Bottom line, I would say that I personally tend to overestimate the value of the gold and the time it will take to get it cleaned out. I don't think I have ever over estimated.  What that means to me is if I am considering going "into production" and the numbers are not good, then I should not go into production on that sport and should continue looking for another with better potential.
Title: Re: How much dirt can a man realistically move?
Post by: ebuyc on December 21, 2012, 08:52:49 AM
I'll attest to Chance's 2/3 full...more like 3/4...then he RUNS them up to this rig and meets me half way back on my first crawl to the truck carrying 1/3 to 1/2 buckets.
I swear the guy has a 40" stride !


Bob

 lol!!!@*  lol!!!@*  lol!!!@* Ok busted!  ;D

Thanks Bob, I didn't realize I was running, but I get that a lot! All those years in the Laborers union I guess!?

I have went out with SpokaneTim a few times too and I am like "we played around at it" and SpokaneTim replies "no we worked our azzes off!"


My daughters can keep up with me, but the wife not so well! I taught both my daughters how to properly run a #2 shovel!!
Both my kids helped me dig a 70' [sewer] trench UNDERNEATH my house in the crawl space with 5 gallon buckets, they made me proud keeping up with my digging!!

Thanks again Bob, I better stay in shape with this reputation forming!

Title: Re: How much dirt can a man realistically move?
Post by: ebuyc on December 21, 2012, 08:59:53 AM

Bottom line, I would say that I personally tend to overestimate the value of the gold and the time it will take to get it cleaned out. I don't think I have ever over estimated.  What that means to me is if I am considering going "into production" and the numbers are not good, then I should not go into production on that sport and should continue looking for another with better potential.

Was that "I don't think I have ever over estimated" or did you mean under estimated?
Title: Re: How much dirt can a man realistically move?
Post by: Former Guest on December 21, 2012, 10:27:21 AM
I just count shovel fulls and if reached and good spot be close in weight, i shoot for 800 shovels a day at least more with 2 ppl working. I have found that much needs to be moved sluicing. In order to make it pay worth it for me. Try it one time you may like this way it works if working steady i will stock pile it till time permits it. With the size here got to move material to make it pay for days work, i am not into working for free so started counting shovels long ago now and stayed with it.  On an average move 800 shovels in a good pay streak and now we are talking some nice gold to be had. cheers Ray
Title: Re: How much dirt can a man realistically move?
Post by: james brown on December 21, 2012, 10:55:33 AM
There are way too many variables for one definitive answer or guesstimation even   <-laugh->

What type of ground, rock sizes,  shovels size, weight, type of handle... size of pry bar, pick etc...

How easy you read the ground as your working it, and how easy and steady you move through stuff  ...  How systematic ?

I would say few yards moved, and processed is a good days work... I mean there are other things eh lol
Title: Re: How much dirt can a man realistically move?
Post by: Former Guest on December 21, 2012, 11:08:35 AM
I use a small handled spade for my shovel. Around here not much bigger than my fist size goes over the sluice. Lots ofb small gravel and more pea gravel then comes the sand. Some places are packed together. hard to break up but softer spots are nice to shovel, i try to stay away from hard ground, so much loose stuff around rgar pays just as well why not stay with softer stuff and softer stuff is this years deposit which is what i am after anyway. Seems to pay the best just my findings over time out cheers Ray
Title: Re: How much dirt can a man realistically move?
Post by: overtheedge on December 21, 2012, 12:08:27 PM
Several folks have brought up the variables at play.

Like ebuyc, I've been a physical laborer for most of my life. Soldier, forest technician, timber faller, farmer and wildland firefighter. I dug my own basement with a #2 shovel and a wheelbarrow until it was large enough to back the tractor in and use the back-blade to move the material out once I broke it up.

But in Alaska, physical work demands slow in the winter. So I trapped, snowshoe and X-country ski. Evenings and colder than -20F are for cerebral activities.

I will say that most people I've seen on the end of the #2 shovel are beating themselves to death. A D-handled shovel is good for dipping out of a wheelbarrow. That is all. Admittedly I occasionally use one for sampling because it is handier to haul.

A long-handled #2 shovel is first, last and always a lever. So folks learn about leverage especially that concept known as a fulcrum. Use the fulcrum.

Bend your knees, not your back. At the beginning of every season, I do a weights and measures test of my equipment. Well, really it is a physical test of me. How much weight can I comfortably lift, move, shake, etc.

Never pivot at the waist under load. My shovel loads are right at 10-10.5 pounds. Have you ever swung a bucket of water on a rope? You gotta lean away from the bucket to counter the centrifugal force right? If you stop rotating, the bucket continues for a bit, eh? When you rotate at the waist under load, the same forces are concentrated at you lower back. Can you spell chiropractor?

Because the deposits locally are in the top 16-20 cm and the material is not boulders, I don't have to dig deep. So I can cycle faster.

When I work a bar, I shovel the easy stuff first. Then I spend a couple hours just moving rocks. Then I shovel the easy stuff again. Specialize for a few hours. Don't permit interruptions in the flow.

When I'm moving rocks, the pump is NOT running, ergo better fuel economy. If you shovel a couple loads, then move a rock or two and shovel again, your pump is wasting fuel and lifespan for what? Keeping the concentrates wet? When I stop feeding the highbanker, concentrates go into a tub, sluice mat replaced and pump re-fueled. Then I move rocks.

To develop efficiency requires proficiency and that demands practice. Practice until it is habit. It will help prevent self-inflicted back and soft tissue injuries.
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In the early stages of mine development, the corporations pay great gobs of money to really smart folks to develop a process flow that will maximize profit potential.  Process flow is those various steps required to move material from in-place to the corporation's product for sale.

Small miners and recreational miners tend to forget that each of us is several components of the process flow. So many spend inordinate amounts of time and money tuning our recovery equipment and fail to tune the engine that drives the whole shebang: Us!! A person in good shape can produce about 75 watts continuously. Each of us has to learn how to use that meager amount of power efficiently. That means no injuries!

Just because a person in good shape can produce a peak power output of 200 watt equivalent is NOT a good reason to try. Around here, people have to haul water from the community well. Many opt for a 500 gallon tank in a 3/4 ton PU. 3/4 ton = 1500 pounds. 500 gallons of water = 4100+ pounds = a bit over 2 tons. Axles and springs break on the frost heaved road. I've seen frames cracked in the winter. So is over-loading a good idea? You decide.

Yah, a bit preachy. What can you expect from someone who's additional duty on many jobs included primary instructor? Oh and don't kid yourself, "help prevent" is NOT the same as prevention. It is an odds game. I just don't get hurt as often.
eric