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Author Topic: Pros and Cons of a Mom & Pop Hardrock Operation  (Read 31062 times)

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Offline GPEX admin

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Re: Pros and Cons of a Mom & Pop Hardrock Operation
« Reply #10 on: April 02, 2009, 08:16:46 AM »
HARDROCK MINING    - - two words which strike our fancy of wealth coming from the ground, yet, seemingly, a scary figment of dream-nature.

When most think of hardrock mining, thoughts commonly lean toward the vision that “that’s way out of my league.” But actually, is it? Or is it but a myth generated by the evolution of our industry from the small-time operator of yesteryear to the corporate entity hinged on today’s investor stocks?  Why then compact one’s self into a very small segment within the mining industry - - one which does not bear all the blossoms that could come forth? As the topic so indicates, shall we then “fully” explore the merits (the Pros & the Cons) of small-scale hardrock mining. The Mom n’ Pop scale of mining.

In the capacity of that which is hereto inferred, might I suggest we refer to it as surface and/or near-surface hardrock mining?  In the opening stage or stages, this would exclude deep-shaft or extensive tunnel mining. Exploiting the resources more at hand, as in open face, open pit, trenching, and the like. 

Logically, though to a lesser degree when it comes to a M&P operation, a lot of common mining regulations may then come into play, but in some aspects, to a lesser extent than that for large-scale operations. Here in British Columbia, as with most any national or international jurisdiction, for one’s own safety and that of others, a good percentage of Work Safety regulatory would also apply, but in Mom n’ Pop scaled operations, these should prove more minimum than not. Pending the nature of recovery and the nature (and location) of processing, the full extent of environmental issues may or may not come into play. Remediation is also an item to factor into the operation, but hey, right now we are only at the initial exploratory stage so we won’t be conducting any major landscape changes in exploring the property’s true potential.

Another BIG scare-away thought, when it comes to thinking about conducting a Mom n’ Pop hardrock operation is, the Big BOOM !!  The need for dynamiting the deposit to liberate the ore. However, for the scale of which we initiate all this on, let’s bring ourselves up to date on all available technologies.  Instead of “BOOM”, then let us think more in the capacity of “snap.” For those not familiar with all the various products out there, I speak of a non-explosive, controlled expansion demolition agent, which when poured into pre-drilled holes, and upon drying, generates up to 18,000 psi silent expansive cracking, shattering or breaking apart, the hardrock element of your deposit. Dexpan, or similar bentonite-based products are that referred to

While thoughts may now expand like the aforementioned agent, let us keep focus that the initial elements are firstly the acquisition of a promising property, securing any necessary exploration permits and then sampling (and assaying samples from) the deposit. Drilling the holes may be effected as simple as using a small portable rock drill, whether gas powered, pneumatic or electric - - the latter two through using a portable generator, the pneumatic employing an onsite compressor.  Hardrock mining made simple for Mom and for Pop.

Next consideration - - how do we then liberate the target elements from the ore ?  Here, I’m sure, will open a whole new arena and likely deserving of its own thread.  Possibly some of our more affluent on the topic will accept that endeavor. But for a M&P operation, we might start with a small (self-fashioned or otherwise) crusher. And comes forth another topic for the DY’er.  Thence, and yes another topic - - mechanical and/or chemical separation of the target element or elements.


And let us not bear such narrow scope as to preclude the only hardrock mining of value rests in Gold and/or other precious metals, for there remains base metals and other valuable mineral deposits quite worthy of considering. All of which bear value in their own perspective.

When it comes to advancing to underground operations, lest we not overlook the fact that a M&P operation could develop into an attractive package of which the big boys might then take interest in. Facilitating either a sell-out or a royalty package.

So, as small-time miners, or should we say, the Mom n’ Pop miners, let us not diminish our existence, importance and value to the mining industry.

This post bears all the earmarks of becoming a   l  o  n  g   and extensive one - - your turn folks!
Somebody said that it couldn't be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That maybe it couldn't but he wouldn't be one
Who'd say so until he had tried.

Offline GPEX admin

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Re: Pros and Cons of a Mom & Pop Hardrock Operation
« Reply #11 on: April 02, 2009, 11:52:37 AM »
Have a question, Mr. Science....

I assume you already hold knowledge of the Dexpan type expansion products, so, in that I already hold a number of Bentonite claims, if I were to consider using some of the the mineral for preparing such demolition (rock fracturing) agent, myself, might you know it's formula?  I assume in a pulverized or powdered state, but would there be any additives or special preparation ?  And what grade of Bentonite would be best ?
Somebody said that it couldn't be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That maybe it couldn't but he wouldn't be one
Who'd say so until he had tried.

Offline GollyMrScience

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Re: Pros and Cons of a Mom & Pop Hardrock Operation
« Reply #12 on: April 02, 2009, 01:42:25 PM »
Dexpan has not really caught on for underground work yet. While it has potential it can only do one of the jobs in a blast that explosives do.
In an underground blast you want to break the rock in a predictable manner to create both an opening and a certain size of muck (broken rock) with fracturing in the broken rock from blast shock that will help with crushing (not a requirement but a happy result) and heave the broken rock out from the face for propping your jackleg on and/or loading.
The expansion products can only break rock and they need someplace to break it to.
In a tunnel situation you can imagine all the expansion forces moving out from the holes filled with product. But as the rock is surrounded on all sides the expansion forces just prop each other and against the sidewalls. The only way to get around that is to use relief holes that will give some under force so a crack can propagate properly. Relief holes are common in explosives blasting too and they can be an excellent way to control breakage and can save explosives use too.
For quarry work there is a lot of potential especially in decorative rock etc where you want to preserve large blocks without having fracturing from blast shock. It is a nice, gentle heave and if done right will split a rock like using wedge and feathers (a metal wedge shaped chisel that is hammered between two metal shims)
The temperature specific formulas that are used can be problematic but are certainly manageable.
I don't know what they are using in the dexpan formula but I will do some checking.
The time frame is a factor for some. The product looks real handy as a replacement for mud packing to break up boulders but the wait for up to 48 hours compared to just a few minutes with explosives plus the need to drill holes rather than just place explosives on top and pile mud or dirt over them to get the job done can affect the decision.
It is no doubt a valuable product in the right place though.
What the heck - lets just keep mixin' stuff together till it blows up or smells REALLY bad!

ClickTheYellowChick

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Re: Pros and Cons of a Mom & Pop Hardrock Operation
« Reply #13 on: April 02, 2009, 04:16:48 PM »
Yup - Nova Scotia is still part of Canada no matter what THEY say.  <-laugh->
I knew that they had a solid history of gold but was not sware that anyone was actively mining on a small scale.
What can you tell us about their operation Megan?

Well, not a whole lot, Tom, since I last corresponded with them in Feb this year.

He did send me the following photo...which is the kind of stuff I enjoy buying from him in small quantities.  He's got a grrrrreat camera <-yes_>  I tease him about his Paul Bunyan thumbs, however. <-good_> Those are indeed a working miner's hands, a.k.a., HONEST DIRT!   <-yes_>


I wrote him t'day to see if he was willing to share more info than what I've felt safe in saying prior.  As you know, the gold business is a touchy business, and I don't want to get the reputation of either saying something wrong, or telling tales out of school. 

I've never personally seen their operation, except in photographs he's shared across the years.  Altho', I've known of him and his operation in N.S. for oh, about 5 years I'd guess,  I'm standing by for his reply. 

ClickTheYellowChick

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Re: Pros and Cons of a Mom & Pop Hardrock Operation
« Reply #14 on: April 02, 2009, 04:54:13 PM »
Have a question, Mr. Science....

I assume you already hold knowledge of the Dexpan type expansion products, so, in that I already hold a number of Bentonite claims, if I were to consider using some of the the mineral for preparing such demolition (rock fracturing) agent, myself, might you know it's formula?  I assume in a pulverized or powdered state, but would there be any additives or special preparation ?  And what grade of Bentonite would be best ?

Hello, Larry,

I can cut down on Tom's research time if you'll let me...  Here's the formula info I found on DEXPAN!




Offline GollyMrScience

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Re: Pros and Cons of a Mom & Pop Hardrock Operation
« Reply #15 on: April 02, 2009, 05:30:50 PM »
Thanks Megan.
So what we are dealing with is likely an unrefined lime or quicklime.
The stuff is caustic and it will expand with heat when water is added.
It does not look like they are adding anything to add to the hydraulic effect. Some other hydraulic agent - perhaps an expanding clay for instance.
Can't see it from the formula at least.
I have been trying to see if the name Dexpan could stand for some critical addition to make it work even better.
So far no luck.
I guess the name quicklime was taken......a couple thousand years ago..
What the heck - lets just keep mixin' stuff together till it blows up or smells REALLY bad!

Offline geophizz

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Re: Pros and Cons of a Mom & Pop Hardrock Operation
« Reply #16 on: April 02, 2009, 06:10:35 PM »
Here's an interview I came across a couple years ago with a friend of mine, Dr. Keith Barron.  He's discussing the gold market and, if you read between the lines, it looks like there's a lot of potential for very small operations.  With the majors only focusing on very (very) rare five million ounce (plus) deposits, and juniors forced by the markets to follow their lead, it's possible that a lot of very small, high grade orebodies could be ignored.

Cheers..

Offline GPEX admin

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Re: Pros and Cons of a Mom & Pop Hardrock Operation
« Reply #17 on: April 02, 2009, 09:43:26 PM »
Thanks for the formula Megan, I don't know how my mind passed by the lime aspect, I should have been able to put that piece into the puzzle. Many years ago (in Nova Scotia) my ex's father told of the old times when they used to use rock lime, packed tightly in a weighted bottle with a few nail holes in the lid, for dropping into pools on the river in their neighboring efforts to get the year's supply of salmon. They used to get it from the old Corchrane Hill gold mine in central Guysborough County.  Never tried it myself but he swore it worked ever as good as dynamite, and much safer to handle. An underwater boom and everyone with dip-nets downstream. Quite probably the lime then constitutes a major component of the Dexpan type-products.

Also, an impressive showing of gold in the sample.  It would also be about 5 to 6 years ago that I conversed with a chap in Nova Scotia who had been actively involved with a M&P operation.... possibly they are one of the same.  I do forget the name now, but I think their deposit might have been down in Shelburne County.  When I get time I will have to search out the old-time database. There's some good deposits down in Nova Scotia.... I held four titles down there in the early 80's.

Do believe you’re on target geophizz.

I’d prepared the following so may as well insert it into this posting, as follows:

Such an excellent address Mr. Science. However, I wonder if my reference to Dexpan-type agents somewhat shifted the primary focus away from the actual aspect of M&P operations. Saving that all remains within that perspective, and where a large daily tonnage is not the perceived (in at least the onset), possibly we could touch on various facets that might be of help to individuals contemplating, or otherwise desiring, a hardrock venture.

In that the M&P venturist (new word) is not equipped with high-tech exploration gear and relies primarily on one’s visual capabilities and judgmental senses, our tool chest may now be augmented with today’s gold detector capabilities, so possibly we may look closer into proving out prospects suspect of carrying commercial values. My use of the words “commercial values” in place of “precious metal content” was purposely placed so as to not narrow the scope of what the small miner may come across in the field. If we program our minds into looking specifically for gold, then generally, that’s all we’ll see, so then, even though gold may be the primary target, let us leave that door in our minds with an open crack.

To enhance upon the aforesaid, whether or not most know, larger mining companies have scoured our lands with some of the most sophisticated devices known to mankind, and they are always striving to enhance upon mineral identification capabilities. But do most know that such said companies have discovered and mapped out, virtually countless deposits (many of which are high-grade), yet, such said discoveries were not of sufficient size to attract the multimillion to multibillion dollar size mining operations that (generally) public-traded companies seek out. Lord only knows (and those mining companies) how many one million to two million dollar gold deposits there actually are, which dot our landscape like chicken-pox. Small for them, large for us. Certainly enough to keep Molly n’ Pete in bread and butter for many years to come, not to mention the adventure of getting out there enjoying Mother Nature, healthy exercise and achieving something most folks would envy.

Generally, for the small operator, a hardrock consideration is based on surface detection of a suspect ore body, or, from placer work, indicator elements, provided we’re shrewd enough to pick up on them. Either way, the little guy wishing to grow an inch or two, can narrow the odds. Word of advice, don’t dwell on a potential dollar amount that a hardrock mine operation might bring, but rather focus on identifying a deposit worthy of further investigation. For this, chip samples, grab samples and the like. Most often though, such exposed outcrops, etc will have had thousands to millions of years exposure, and natural abrasion, so the veins holding the clearer indicators will likely be cloaked from easy view. Though not always a sure-fire method, run your detector over the suspect feature, you may be surprised with the aid this little bundle of electronic paraphernalia will surrender. However, where our suspicions are mounting and we can’t seem to get deep enough for good samples, this is where a product like Dexpan might come into play. As Mr. Science so indicates, for setting off our little “snap” charge, one would not drill straight in on a rock face to have the forces work against one another, but rather, drill your load holes inward on a tapered cone-shaped pattern - - when the agent dries, it then has a clear avenue in which to force the shattered material outward.  And it is from there we are able to get more responsible samples for our assays.  One way or the other, we have to capture good samples to qualify our further efforts on a suspect deposit.  Step No.1, the prospecting - - Step No. 2, the identification of what we’re looking at.

While all the aforesaid might be elaborated on in greater depth, it should, however, offer the perspective that a small operator can indeed, forge toward a M&P hardrock operation. And that very worthy ore bodies (for the small guy and gal) do exist. Sure, it may not offer the (seemingly) leisure afforded by a placer operation, but where else is it most small operators can set themselves up with a million dollar operation without huge investment?  The discovery - - then work your small deposit to where it is feasible to take it - - and if it does prove out to be a major deposit, farm it out or sell it, and move along to your next hardrock venture.

Much more to come, I’m sure - - so the floor is open for all those with thoughts and questions, and those who wish to offers some of the answers. This is not a technical paper but rather an universal invitation for all members to pass their views and collectively refine some of the pathways and obstacles that may be encountered in a M&P hardrock operation.
Somebody said that it couldn't be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That maybe it couldn't but he wouldn't be one
Who'd say so until he had tried.

Offline GollyMrScience

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Re: Pros and Cons of a Mom & Pop Hardrock Operation
« Reply #18 on: April 03, 2009, 07:26:43 AM »
As with prospecting there is a wide range even in the "mom and pop" scale of mining.

Mom and Pop mining in hardrock in Tanzania would be two guys digging a four by four foot hole straight down in the middle of a maize field till they hit weathered bedrock and then they haul out five gallon pails full of material over the morning. All hand dug. The ore is then pounded in a mortar and pestle made out of a piece of axel steel and a hollowed out stone or another peice of scrap steel or iron. That powder is panned for the gold. Sometimes they use mercury.

In North America we have the benefit of better infrastructure and equipment readily available but that means we are kinda spoiled. It would be a rare person here that would be content with recovering a gram of gold per day from the level of work the african miners put in.

Too often I think professionals in the industry use the term "Mom and Pop" as a put down like they are less professional in their work or knowledge. Like Walmart putting down a corner store owner. It is an unfair characterization as far as I am concerned because what we are talking about is a question of scale. Just because a Nevada gold mine has to move 1,000 tonnes of ore in a day to be profitable does not mean that a Mom and Pop operation that moves ten tonnes is any less worthy and in truth at the end of the day the returns are profitable and sustainable to the satisfaction of the operators.

I think that I am going to refer to Mom and Pop operations as "Small Scale Mining" as I want to break away from any suggestion that they are less than worthy.
Small Scale Mining has a reputation in the industry as being more likely to fail as a mine. This idea comes mostly from the industry watching small scale miners undertake projects without doing their homework or without adequit funding or knowledge. It is the nature of the beast that a person can start up a small scale mine with very little of anything. Knowledge, experience, funding, exploration, equipment, and a host of other real needs become secondary to a person who just wants to get mining.

On the one hand you want to congratulate them on their ambition but you catch yourself shaking your head in wonder when you ask things like "Have you drilled off a mineable reserve?" or "How are you going to get the gold out and make a profit doing so?"

This is part of the move up to small scale miner from hobby miner. While it is possible to small scale mine as a hobby for fun and never make a profit the need to cover the greater costs starts to pull the small scale miner up into rarer air. The expression the Spaniards had about having to own a gold mine to afford a silver mine comes to mind.
Given that the greatest tool for a small scale miner is knowledge I think we have one of the best ways to share that right here.

Given that a small scale miner (SSM for short though after seeing the troubles that some have had maybe they are more into S & M) is going to have to cover the entire range from grassroots prospecting to final winning of PROFITABLE returns this is a great thread to cover off "appropriate" technology and approaches to make things profitable.
So we can cover topics as far ranging as prospecting for hardrock to approprately scaled equipment that will process and recover profitable returns.

Notice I keep harping on the word "profitable". That is the benchmark - the desired result. All else flows to that one target. Anyone can mine for a loss - thats a skill that seems to be universal but big companies are better at breaking out of that by throwing a heck of a lot of money at the front end of the work. They are not going to do one blessed thing unless they have already got a darn good idea what they are going to run into for ore and grades and over what area and with so much cost and with such and such equipment to mine and recover.

At the end of their projected day they know how much they will have for profit.

In an Ideal world.

But even they can get caught.

Recognizing that even the big guys with deep pockets and big resources can run into trouble where does the SSM fit into it.

Next post.
Sounds like a Soap Opera lead in.

"As the Drill Turns" kinda thing.
Stay tuned.

We have some great resources in the people we have here so this could get fun!
What the heck - lets just keep mixin' stuff together till it blows up or smells REALLY bad!

Offline GPEX admin

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Re: Pros and Cons of a Mom & Pop Hardrock Operation
« Reply #19 on: April 03, 2009, 10:29:07 AM »
I fully agree the corporate collar execs extend a derogatory view toward the MP miner, but when the bottom line is written, who actually gives a hoot in bananas? Most generally the bigger critics are those who either walk blindly or are too danged jealous that persons beyond their boardrooms can engage in a project and wind up with better figures whether it’s measured by the loss or the profit margin. If the large ticket shareholder were to make their own measure, quite likely they’d see a better investment-return-factor in saddling up with the little guy rather than the mega-spending counterparts. The MP or SS miner by far, enjoys gains that their big brethren can only dream of - - firstly the “hands-on” enjoyments instead of tie-tightening ritual for the next Board meeting, the ability to get out into Mother Nature for a day full of much needed exercise, the excitement of news-sharing around the dinner table when a good lead is discovered, the anticipation of what each tomorrow might bring, so and so forth. Seems to me, the only person or persons who suffer greatest from such warped point of view, are the spiteful people who spend their entire day looking into mirrors. Who cares?  Maybe it’s high time the prestige of the M&P miner is worn with honor, for their footsteps leave far greater imprints than that of any corporate collar I’ve ever met. The small guy in most every fashion is human-like, while the big guy more resembles a robot. And I’m sure, the MP/SS miner wears a higher respect amongst the peer factor.

Bach to our house of business.

In kicking this thing off, let’s try to keep the horse in front of the cart. Such being said, let’s try to prioritize the steps a small miner should be looking at. The majority of minds may then go toward the in-the-field prospecting element, but I feel that which holds greater criteria is the planning aspect - - this being that phase beyond coaxing sweet thing into supporting, or at least, condoning the effort. If one desires to engage in small-scale mining, he/she ought to be drafting a fundamental plan, and one which fits the budget. No. 1 - Seeking out all available knowledge that will help us along our way. Thence might come the very important part of either buying or gearing up, the necessary tools needed to get started with. So - - what all might be in the small miner’s back pack and tool shed? Rock-sample acquisition tools for one, and possibly a small rock crusher for another, even a portable core drill. And the floor is now passed over to other members to hash over which might be the best tools for the trade, how best to acquire these, or make them, and other facets of consideration. Though focused toward one, a 1000 minds are much better than one, yet mutually beneficial to all.

Assuming we have acquired the “bride’s” permission (or groom’s), we now have left, countless empty pages starving to be filled by co-authors. So..................... beyond the normal hand grenades and a flame-thrower for bears (you can see where my love lies) what might that back-pack look like… and what have we got geared up in the shed ? Add-to lists, you might say..... neat little things and ideas. Hey.... the upcoming "CGPF Co-operative Handbook for Small Miners." A free online publication.  That's got a nice ring to it!  Do we have onboard any artisians of the pen?

Back Pack
- white glue
- sticky paper
- loop or pocket magnifier
- ?
- ?
- ?

Tool Shed (? Truck Bed)
- ?
- ?   
Somebody said that it couldn't be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That maybe it couldn't but he wouldn't be one
Who'd say so until he had tried.

 


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