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A few questions from a super newbie!


SuperMarc-101

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Greetings to all you prospectors out there!

I am new to this forum and wanted to take a second to introduce myself before jumping into my questions.

Well HI! I'm Marc aka SuperMarc

Good to meet you all,

I live on a small place in rural GA south of Atlanta and can say without a doubt in my mind

that there is gold here. I have invested (what to me is quite a few) dollars in testing and finding out if it

is real or not. You know - to make sure its not fools gold and I don't end up looking like a fool.. LOL

Anyway being that it is GA there is a lot of red clay dirt .

I started with an MD-20 gold detector and have it set to the right settings so it pinpoints the gold

which by the way is very fine flakes. I have bought a few classifiers all the way to 100

I even have a blue bowl...

But when the red dirt goes in it just settles to the bottom with the very fine gold.if I speed the blue bowl up to fast

enough to make the heavy now mud go away the fine gold goes with it.

I constantly check both the dirt in the bowl and the over flow and both have gold in them...

There has to be a simple cost effective way to separate the gold from this red dirt. LOL

Someone mentioned that it needed to be crushed finer than 100 like maybe to 300 or 400 then run and the dirt would float away. LOL

I saw some crushers that will do it to that. Am I off base? is there an easier way.

I have tried several different sluices and all the same result... it all comes back to the red dirt that gets so heavy and turns to mud when it gets wet.

Well I welcome any and all ideas as well as any questions you might have...

Until then

Marc - SuperMarc

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Howdy Marc and welcome to the forums...

Here is some info on dealing with clay,

Clay is a problem to the placer miner in two ways: when trying to separate PM's, the clay often refuses to fully disintegrate; leaving little clumps that rob PM's from the sluice. Later, the clay refuses to settle out of water the miner wishes to return it to the stream; giving him a bad name with the environmentalists.

Why does clay behave as it does? Clay particles, suspended in water, may behave in two different ways. The electrostatic charge on each particle may cause both attraction and repulsion. In an acid environment, the particles are attracted into clumps in a state referred to as "flocculation". In an alkaline environment, the particles are repelled by each other in a state referred to as "deflocculation". This explains why the clay you assumed was broken up into soup was still robbing gold from your sluice; presumably in the form of "micro-clumps".

The science of how deflocculants work is somewhat complex but for the most part the addition of a deflocculant raises the Ph of your recirculating water to the point where clay literally comes apart into its sub-micron particles. The addition of a deflocculant also greatly speeds up the breakdown of clay lumps into soup prior to sluicing.

Some of the more common deflocculants are sodium and potassium carbonate (check out washing soda at the store), sodium and potassium hydroxide, sodium silicate, phosphates and polyphosphates and sodium and ammonium oxalates.

Once the gold bearing clay is reduced to a repulsive slurry, there is another step one could take. It is generally agreed that clay is defined as being below 5 microns in particle size. A micron is 1/1000th of a millimeter and I seriously doubt any of you are attempting to sluice gold anywhere near that small. If one knew the particle size of the smallest pieces of gold (let's say 150 mesh) one was attempting to recover, a vibrating screen or screened centrifuge could be set up that would allow the clay particles to pass through, say, a 200 mesh screen but would retain gold and anything else larger than 200 mesh (or whatever size screen you selected).

Adding a flocculant to the tailings water would, of course, clump all of the clay back together and leave you with clear water. There is a product marketed called "Clay-B-Gone" made just for this purpose.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Ive read that boiling clay will make it act different. If the red dirt is rich enough you could try that. The advice Bill Southern gave about finding out the size of your gold will help you very much. It is very important to know the size of the gold your trying to recover. Once you know the size you can isolate it easier. If its smaller than 100 mesh then you can buy screens at industrial supply stores, even down to -300 mesh. By screening you might get allot of that red dirt out the picture which will put you on the road to recovery faster than you think.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I agree that the water must be too low a pH (acidic) and is re-clumping the clay. You can also get pH increase chemicals in the pool aisle from Walmart and effectively do the same thing. Just be careful and don't use much as a strong base can do a number on you and everything around it (bleach is a strong base at 12.5).

A simple test to figure what end of the pH scale you may be at- acidic water can feel "gritty" in that you can almost feel the ridges of your fingerprints as you gently rub two fingers together while a stong alkaline water will feel smooth to almost oily when doing the same thing. Both of these are heading toward the extreme ends of the scale, but you can learn to notice it if you look for it.

I do like the idea of getting finer mesh screens and washing out the micron-sized clay with a slightly alkaline water. Just make sure you're not just recirculating the same silty clay back through without some method to screen it on your pump. The more alkaline the water, the more the clay will stay suspended in it and your efforts will drive you nuts.

Good question, though.

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