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Author Topic: Dry panning for gold ?  (Read 5067 times)
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mariner
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« on: July 05, 2009, 01:49:53 PM »

Hi Guys,

I am curious to see if any of you try dry panning? I have seen the Garret DVD on panning etc. and the guy shows it being done but in very dry conditions.
I know of several places here in BC Cariboo area, where there are considerable gravel deposits - nearly all sitting on the upper regions of hilly ground, with no water nearby. This is in an area that has a good placer gold history going back to 1850's where a 2lb 6 oz nugget was found just a few miles away.
Anyway, the point of this posting is to see what you guys might do if you wanted to sample the gravel and dirt (not bone dry, but more dry than wet for sure), which incidently has what appears to be black sand mixed in. I am just trying to get a feel for how to go about sampling without spending a lot of money on equipment (just yet).
I know that gold is being recoverd all around this immediate area, but that is from using water i.e. in creeks etc. The gold migrates from being in water, usuall downhill. So I think you can see where I am coming from on this - it stands to reason that there could very well be gold at higher elevations. Also, scattered around the gravel are rocks penetrating through (I have no idea what they are) a hard blue/grey/black colour to some of them.

Anyway, I am new to this hobby and would like to hear opinions from you more informed members.

Thanks for your patience and advice offered.

mariner
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« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2009, 02:07:27 PM »

I think the best use of drypanning would be to reduce your sample size to be processed later with water methods. Dry panning would reduce the amount of lighter material but won't show you gold right away. Don't know how it would work if you are not getting material with some larger sized gold? Would think it would have to be at least +20 mesh to work? Would be a cheap way to find out though.
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« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2009, 02:55:10 PM »

theirs really no good way to recovery gold without water, water dissolves clays and separates small gold particles from rocks


Heres a mock-up of what i would use if i was prospecting in a place where there was no water source nearby.


the diagram is self explanatory. to carry the water i would just throw a small water tank in the back of my truck

Google recirculating sluice, to find out more info on how to build something similar to my sketchup.

or you could dry wash.... it pretty much a sluice with out water.

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« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2009, 06:58:38 AM »

Hi,

Thanks guys, for your input.
The places I am talking about are often quite a hike from a track or dirt road (2 or 3 km) and on high ground. I do know that these places are right in the Cariboo gold producing area (quite a big overall area) and just may be worth looking at. Being new to this I am just trying to work out what  might be a feasable way of checking. I am sure that a metal detector would be a big help - maybe that might be the way to do the initial checking. Worry about digging and sampling if I get a good signal with a detector. And yes, the sites I have in mind are just a few km away from gold bearing streams, creeks and river. The gold had to travel (downwards and along) - it is a matter of finding where it came from.
Again. if anyone can offer pointers or advice, I sure would appreciate it. If my thinking is wrong then I would appreciate knowing also.

Thx

mariner
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« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2009, 09:07:37 AM »

Dry panning will be disappointing I think as the material will be damp. Dry panning likes dry, dry, DRY material and anyplace in the Cariboo is going to be damp enough to gum up the works. It may work to a limited degree but I'm thinking you will be disappointed with it.
If it is an area that you have your heart set on your first look should be a casual recon of the general area prospecting for the gravels you are seeking, finding best access and prospecting for nearby water. Even a tiny spring would be enough to help big time.
With just a few gallons of water you can pan, rotapan, or rocker for some time. Packing said water to the area at 10 pounds per gallon will wear a guy out fast.
One technique that is do-able is to take in classifier screens. A 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, and maybe a 12 mesh though it gets hard to screen well in the finer size if the material is the least amount damp. For a complete approach to this system the largest plastic gold pan you can find or even a large flat bottomed plastic pan from the dollar store or better quality perhaps Walmart. Say 16 inches flat bottom and a metal detector. If no detector then forget the big pan and rely on visual sorting at that step.
If you take a look at a typical stream deposited gravel bed there is an awful lot of stuff in the plus 1/2 inch size. While I can't speak for your particular deposit I would hazard that half the weight of a sample from that gravel would be plus 1/2 on average.
The idea is to reduce a sample by as much as possible so for example using weight as the measure we take a 50 pound raw sample. By screening on the 1/2 inch that sample is now 25 pounds, by screening further you can likely get that 50 pound sample down to 12 or 15 pounds.
If you have a metal detector the oversize is tossed into the large pan and spread out and a nugget check is done with the detector along with a visual inspection to check the character of the gravel. No signal toss it. You can metal detect with a medium sized coil pretty safely on a thin layer of material down to 1/8 inch nuggets and maybe down to the 12 mesh.
The minus sized sample is bagged for transport out.
Ok more detail next post.
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« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2009, 09:17:04 AM »

I'd advise you to beg, borrow, buy or steal (maybe not steal) a good metal detector, preferably a "Pulse Induction" type.  If you find a nugget or two the next step would then be to invest in some kind of a dry-washer to recover the fine gold Yahoo!!
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« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2009, 09:21:39 AM »

The screen and haul dry is a compromise system but consider that you have reduced 50 pounds down to 15 pounds so for the equivalent weight to carry you can carry three samples representing 150 pounds of raw gravel. Take smaller samples of raw and you can extend that.
You could say that you want to take two pans of gravel as a test. If each normal pan has 10 pounds of gravel to start then by screening you can take a two pan bank run sample from the original 20 pounds down to perhaps 6 pounds. since you are carrying it you decide if you want more samples over a bigger area or fewer samples but bigger to get a more representative final sample.
So - your choice - cart water in or sample out? Realistically over rough terain 3 gallons of water plus the rest of your kit is about it.
So you cart 3 gallons IN to the gravel or the equivalent of around 100 pounds of raw gravel OUT to the water.
If you decide that you want to haul water in then still use the dry screening as panning only the 1/4 inch material will preserve water.
If you do not have a metal detector then you can do a bastardized dry pan of the oversize.
Put the oversize in a pan and give the pan some real good shaking like you would do if it was wet. Then keep shaking as you tilt the pan.
For the first of it with a full pan you can get away with slowly tipping it up and letting just a thin layer of gravel slip over the edge. Do it over another gold pan and watch carefully. If the shaking worked your gold should be low enough in the pile that the top layer can be safely dumped off - but watch anyway. You do it over another pan because usually by the time the eyes and brain get their act together to say Holy Smokes there goes a nugget you can't get the signal fast enough to the hands and the nugget is buried. Much easier to chase it if it is in another pan.Since the dry shaking will not work as well as wet you can only go so far before you get to the point that tipping and shaking in a standard gold pan will be tough as the smooth sides will allow nuggest to slip along under the layer and along the tilted side as you shake risking gold loss. A heavy riffle textured pan like the Garrett or Le Trap or Fossikers would likely save the day but if you don't have one then you can only do the shake and tip for so long till the layer in the pan is too small to work well. You could bag it as is for later panning but if it is small enough sample and course gravel then the fastest is to spread it across a pan and take a look see. Not perfect but better than tossing the oversize. Sometimes you can do the shake move to move the sample to the bottom "corner" of a pan - not tipping anything over and just rake a thin layer ot over the edge to keep working the sample of screened oversize down. I do it in two rakes - the first scrapes the top layer off and spreads it across the long side of the pan. A quick check visually then the second scopps that stuff over the edge. Shake - scrape -repeat till you are down to just a small amount to spread out and look through. One the 12 mesh sizes I will often use a different technique.
Next I will give you some tips on using the pan like a vibrating table.
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« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2009, 10:20:56 AM »

I am assuming round pan here but the square pans will do this too
On the finer of the oversize - 8 or 12 mesh.
Tilt the pan to one side and shake everything down into the "corner".
This is gonna be hard to explain -
Lay the pan on your forearm (wear a shirt or your arm will take some punishment).
The side with the material in it is away from you.
The top edge of the pan that is away from you should be just at your hand in a way that you can just curl your hand and your fingers will go over the edge to secure the pan.
As you grasp the pan this way the pan's bottom will lift away from your arm - thats a good thing.
Holding tightly like that you take your other hand and smack your lower palm against the edge closest to you.
You start a rythmic bumping action with the free hand and play with the angle a bit with your other and you will see the material on the far side trying to "walk" up the pan towards the bumping hand. Try to keep the pan held pretty rigid so your supporting arm and hand are like a stiff spring. Some experience and practice with this action and you will be able to control the material so that the heaviest stuff works its way to the bottom of the pile and then once it hits the bottom of the pan it will work its way to the edge of the pile closest to your bumping hand. Keep the pan tilted so that nothing comes walking all the way up but just sort of hovers on that upper edge. You will see the character of the pile change as the heavies build up and at a point in the proceedings you tilt the pan down just enough that some of the heavies start to walk almost to the top edge where you are bumping. Watch for gold walking along at that point. The material walks up and then sort of falls away back to the leading edge in a circulating layer of heavies.
Work with less than 1/4 of a pan of material so you have enough room to see things happening and to get a good action going. If you see a piece of gold the nice thing is that you can freeze everything right where it is by stopping the bumping so you can reach in with the bumping hand and pick that little golden prize out.  Yahoo!!
Once you get really cocky you can further work it down by setting up the bed as discussed and slowly tilting the far edge down so that some material is going over the edge as you bump. As long as you have first established that edge of heavies towards the bumping side your gold should be safe on the good side or buried in the pile so that you can let some material get away.
Don't be too quick to start dumping stuff as you should be able to do most of the gold recovery right in the pan. I usually do the tilt to dump process after I am pretty sure that I have all the gold and more as a final hurrah before dumping it all. A last check never hurts so preserving the heavies as you tilt off the lighter stuff can only help.
Once you have reduced that last stuff to just a few spoonfuls tip the pan back and some careful bumping should bring the heavies up again and spread everything out to get a good look - just in case.
If you have gotten a little too ambitious with loading the pan you can use the tipping earlier in the process to reduce the volume before you start the serious recovery effort in the pan but be sure to really give stuff a good shaking down and only a thin layer over the edge as you tip. Keep up the bumping all along the way.
This technique works pretty darn good when you get the hang of it. Best to use on classified material as the material in the 12 mesh and up will not glue together as easily with a bit of damp like the fines will.
It is hard on the back and wrist and the palm of your bumping hand - especially at first till you learn not to put too much in the pan and not to get all fired ambitious in smacking the pan with the tender parts of your hand. Just a gentle thudding bump is all you need. It should not be smack smack smack but more a dull thud thud thud.
After over 40 years of martial arts my hands can take some beating but an hour of this and it will take its toll.
Keep it up over a prolonged period and you will start to look like Popeye!  Laugh
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« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2009, 07:14:25 PM »

To dry wash you will need the dirt to be at least 98% dry
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« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2009, 08:31:16 AM »

Thanks everyone for answering my question. Just looking at alternatives to "humping" 5 gallon pails  of gravel etc., over good hillside hikes. Sure seems  you gotta work at it to get the prize.

Many thanks to GollyMr.Science for taking the time and effort to explain - it is very much appreciated not only by me, but other newbees as well.

This forum is a wealth of knowledge and experience - I spend hours just reading (and dreamin  Grin Grin Grin).

Cheers

mariner
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