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Has anyone ever reprocessed Mill Tailings ???


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There is a very old, and very large old gold mine Stamp Mill I am interested in reprocessing some of their tailings. I am thinking about gathering some 5 gallon buckets of it, and running it through my 5 gallon tumbler with a few crushing balls, and mercury. Then retorting the mercury. The mine dates back to 1900, and they used a cyanide leaching process. I remember reading somewhere old time cyanide techniques were not very efficient, recovering only around 50% to 60%. Has anyone tried this? Or have any more information on this? I have used my tumbler and mercury on black sands I save from drywashing with good results.


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Have never done this although I know how. Just thinking about your situtation, you would be wise to have an assay done before you do anything. The tailings would have to be pretty rich for it to pay off and could save you some work. imho If you do decide to send a sample(s) out, make sure you get a good one. That's one of the most critical steps in any type of operation,large or small.

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Not keen on messing with any thing that could have cyanide in the mix but I would do it. If I had a place like that I would do the hand Pan and if it had color I would Do the best I could that way. After that I may think about Amalgamation.

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DD great idea that I've seen done many dozens of times up here in redding kalif. Bad crush ,sulfides,not strong enough cyanide,too short a leach has proven to be quite a gold mine in itself. Your recrush and mercury treat is great. Then you'll know the truth. Don't hygrade samples if you decide to do a assay as then you totally waste your cash as whole pile reality is what ya seek. I'd crush and use cyanide as the safest,easiest cheapest way to treat ores but if you have enough mercury to test with then run what ya brung. I took a cement mixer and welded/jb weld/siliconed it and utilized it for crushing with big ol'ball bearrrings because my 1 gallon tumbler was just too small. Ol'red is inside a mine right now,sold years ago,and making my bud cash still. Cube is worthless for what your doing unless your going to try and run mercury through it after crush,but bowl or wheels much better and quicker for this type of op to eliminate spill dangers and contamination. Definately do at least 3-5 , 5 gallon buckets 1 from the top,2 middle 180 degrees apart,rotate 180 degrees and do bottom-mark to know location on pile. Hope ya find poundage-John

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Dave, I can't go in to detail because of partners involved but we do just that in our spare time on weekends, using Hoser Johns method we buy mine tails and have them hauled to our processing site and run then through a homebuilt trommel and them amalgamate the black sand in a cement mixer converted to use a different container. The results are retorted using the borax method.

We buy the tailings from a contract hauler and is catch as catch can, we get 45 tons a load and average in the neighborhood of 8 Oz per load when things go good, when they don't and you get a load that has Moly in it you don't get anything, this is just a backyard hobby thing and not meant to be a serious mining operation. It came about just to prove the Nay Sayers wrong about the whole process. when I posted about Borax refining I was soundly critiezed for promoting a dangerous process so I just shut up on the forums and after all the highway is the most dangerous thing all of us do. The entire process is carried out in the open air by Experienced miners who make there living in the mining industry and there is danger in working any kind of equipment.

So if you have the time any money and opportunity I say go for it, needless to say this is a winter time operation here in AZ. I wouldn't worry about the cyanide as the Found Dutchman says.



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Thanks everyone for your help. It seems with all the work already done by the ol timers, mining, removing the ore, hauling, and crushing, it could be beneficial.

H-2 Charlie- I have a 4 stage gold cube, but this gold is fine, so the cube would not capture to much of it. But its great on dry washer concentrates.

John- Thank you for the advice, I will have to also look into the cyanide process, I do have about a pound of mercury left for the ball mill. :brows:

Dutchman- I do belong to the GPAA, and I believe they give you one or two free assays a year, thanks for reminding me of that... will have to send them some for evaluation.

Max- Your always a wealth of info, will you be at Gold Basin during the next outing, would love to pick your brain if you don't mind... :D


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Dave this sounds like a fun project. I agree with John ,Max and the other guys.

There is lots of people working old tailings,either with mercury,or leaching,and some

of them do pretty well. A little research and testing up front will help a lot.

Is your ore from an old heap leach,or from a tailings pond? Some of the old mines

only got a 30 percent recovery rate with cyanide. This is not because cyanide has

problems ,but because of the ore type,and process used.

I don't know anything about the mine or mill operation ,that you are looking at,but

will throw a few things out to check out. Did the stamp mill use amalgamation plates,

or amalgamation as the first process? Most did use amalgamation in the first phase,

and cyanide as the final extraction for the amalgamation tails. If this is the case with

your project,don't count on much gold. If the tails are course enough to require

grinding then you may have a winner. Also cyanide works slow on larger gold and

course rocks. Leaching course material can leave a lot of gold,that the leach could

not access,or some that did not have enough time to disolve.

From 1880 and on there was some pretty high tech mining in your area,with the

bigger mines. Some were pretty darned efficient for recovery rates too. Check out

the mine dump if you can. Sometimes a lot of good ore never made it to the stamp

mill. A good assay will tell you more than anything. This will tell you just what you are

dealing with. Knowing your ore is the key for tailoring your extraction method. The

ore type defines the process. Some leaches love iron ,copper,arsenic,antimony and,

other stuff,others will be a complete fizzle ,so you need to tailor the process for the

material at hand. Mercury works well for the free milling stuff,down to a certain size,

but it won't extract the locked up gold. Also some of the crap in ores,can play hell

with your mercury too.

I love playing with stuff that fizzes, bubbles,and fumes ,or makes weird colors.I would

sure enjoy talking to Max,about his process too.Good luck and keep us posted on your


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Max is smarter than the average bear!!! Get it on with your bad arse ol'self bud,nuttn' but respect and as always great info-I copied borax process info and have it in library along with Doc Williams RIP info from CR---John

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Hi Guys,

I have been watching this, and thought I would provide somewhat of an answer to the question:

Replying to Has anyone ever reprocessed Mill Tailings ???

Well, yes, and this is one spot in Idaho, that is doing just that.


I was at the Quartzburg site the day that a catskinner acquaintance began re-cutting all the roads on that specific mine site. Another friend and I were the first to go up one of those steep roads, scarcely wider than an old pickup truck, and steep, and a long way to roll if the truck lost its brakes on the way down.

I tried to get the owner to allow me to detect the place, but he said I would have to get in line to do so, if there WERE a line, so I suspect his answer was a definite NO!!

This is a pretty interesting video, and when you see the flatbed with all those bags on it, it is bound for Boise, Idaho, to a secret site (well, not real secret, but secure) At that site there are literally hundreds of those bags of the crushed material, and it is again reprocessed there at the Boise site, as I understand, or surmise...

When you get to this point, you will know about the place as I do. I thought Max would especially would enjoy this, as he likely had his hearing aid turned up, when hearing conversations turning to these areas. :inocent:



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I was well aware of that place but even then it was well guarded, besides I had my own until the owner sold out to the Canadian's for Moly.

I left an old log ore bin half filled with high-grade that assayed 3+ OZ to the ton that I had planed to sack and haul off the mountain with my Chinese side by side and ship to SL City that went with the sale.

I scraped and vacuumed 2 - 5 gallon buckets of spillage from under the foundation of the old ball mill that assayed .26 OZ AU , .56 OZ Silver per 2 gallons, the sulfides cost me dearly though.

The old timers up in that country treat those places like their banks and make withdrawals as necessary.

Well they didn't get it all and some of those old patented mines have lots left, I just never could get financing to go big time but before the Canadians took over I got my 18.56 OZ of fines and nuggets and more later when I got it all processed.

I'll try to post some pictures,




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Dave, I had planed too but its iffy due to Wife's unexpected health problems, I got a new CTX3030 from Bill I am wanting to try out, we'll see!

Check any tailings you are interested in for sulfides and Moly, they will defeat you unless you have deep pockets.

There is a man made Mountain of ore the US Government mined from Black MT. near Wickenburg and stock piled out on US 60 for Moly during WW2, it is high in silver sulfides and they could never recover either metal as recently as about 3 years age the Japanese decided they could process it and shipped tons of it away before they too where defeated, its still piled between the Highway and railroad near Agulia.

Its marked US Government Property and I'll bet they wish someone would do something with it!

We have about 20 tons of tailings that are contaminated with moly, its from our usual spot too! Retort it and you get a nice BLACK ball, hit it with a hammer and instead of flattening out like gold you have BLACK powder!

Good Luck


Max- Your always a wealth of info, will you be at Gold Basin during the next outing, would love to pick your brain if you don't mind... :D


Edited by Gilaoro
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