Throwing Away Gold 101

On one river where I often go and get very small amounts of Gold, there are countless rocks and boulders of quartz smashed along the banks to small pieces. Happy prospectors breaking in their new rock hammers and finding no Gold. The river eventually takes the crumby mass and breaks it into sand over time. The folks go home empty handed after a good work out not realizing they left several ounces of  Gold in their wake that the river will take away forever.

I used to make this same mistake. So for the new folks.......... would you throw away 6, 8,10,12 or 14 Karat gold?

Telluride is NOT a place for snowboarding.

Tellurides are the common form of gold laying around that no one sees. Its not yellow and its not shiny metal, but rather crystal in structure. In the 90s I threw away about 16 pounds of quarts that had about 6-8 oz of gold in it because it wasnt shiny and yellow.

AuTe2, Gold Telluride, and Calaverite are the same.

It ranges from 20-70% total gold and is trapped in lots of rocks you walk by every day. You have very likely picked up, looked at and thrown them down. it will be trapped usually in speckled quartz and look like silver metal yet crackle and crumble if you attempt to remove it with a knife or pointed instrument. But there are numerous types and combinations.

Tellurides are in many different mixes besides just Calaverite. (sound like Calaveras county?) Various forms of metal combinations can be present and each telluride has a different name that reflects what is present. You will need to educate yourself. This is just a little lead article, and you will need to put in the work to learn more.

After you have removed the Magnetic sands:

You may have noticed during finish panning that the first portion of dark black sand pulls away with water very easily and a second crystal sort of black sand is left behind that you have to fight a bit to pull away from the gold. There is a reason. Your normal black sands and magnetic sands run about 5 in specific gravity or lower. Tellurides with a higher level of gold can run 9 or higher in specific gravity. Just enough of a difference for a careful and highly skilled finish panner to see the exact moment when the regular black sands slip away and the crystal sands are left. Many places dont have this second type of black sand, but if your location does, start saving your coffee cans.

Your homework  is to perform specific gravity tests and be able to perform them accurately. This is the indicator in ore that will tell you if a vein is worth digging, borderline or one to skip. So go steal your wife's extra fancy large measuring cup with the ML markings on the side and get it out to the garage. Or just go to a culinary supplier that has them with very high grade markings in ML. And of course a very accurate digital scale. Only certain ones are good enough. They need grams broken by hundred parts and 300 or more gram capacity.

You will notice in the pics on my page there are certain pans that i show Gold that is not all the way clean. These are taken like that so the old timers who know, can see roughly the concentrations of that crystal sand that is coming with the flour. They know exactly what they are looking at.


Self Education: The time you spend educating yourself on the various forms of Gold will pay you back ten fold. Because everyone else just walks on by, or leaves the gold in broken pieces where they first hammered the ore open.

Do yourself a favor. Copy and paste the names here into Google. Same for Google images. Learn to spot this Gold everyone throws away. Then go back to those empty quartz veins and take a second look.

If you hit it big, you can slip a nugget in the mail to thank me. (no really, I can get nuggets in the mail lol)


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  • Thaks Mike you are a big help !! think we're going to have to put you on the payrole ! When I crush up my Ore I get flashes of purple and green, seen through the loop. I've been told that means high consintrations of gold is this true ?  Dennis

    • I could only tell you about the material here that I work with. Here if there is rainbow colors its usually almost always crushed bits of garnet in cons. We have a gemstone here that has all clors from orange to green to blue. I know it has been found with fine gold wires through it but not what we think of as wire gold. Our rock material that has Telluride is gray to a very shiny new mercury color, but cracks up and looks more like black sand. But remember with the right light and surface, prismatic effects are possible also. Google images is your friend when trying to match material. My samples on my shelf are directly tied to what we have here as I found them all. I don't have any from other places.  I do have a tiny piece where the gold is laced in and can be seen at 30x. Its looks like a stack of mica spread with the same tiny gap between each gold flake.

  • Thanks Mike great information the learning never seems to end !

    • The sad part is....everyone throws away far more gold than the shiny stuff they put in the vials.  Something to note however is if your in an area with a high concentration of Tellurides you can target them along with the gold by adjusting your angle and water flow. In the right spots with good pressure I will run a sluice level or head tipped a tiny bit down. This flushes blonde and lets the black sand build up about double of the normal. Once summer comes having enough flow pretty much stops that, as we cant build rock dams here for sluicing without a permit. Other places can though. But it is actually a true form of gold and can be separated with any normal sluice or banker set correctly. There are some people that buy dredge cons from dredgers who are getting tellurides, but who dont know this, and do very well just buying sand.

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