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Quit your job? Reality?

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Bob, any electrician that works for $12 an hour in your town must do it because they want to or, how can I say it nicely, because they don't know any better.  All they have to do is drive 10 minutes to the east or 30 minutes to the south and be in the money and benefits.....

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Posted (edited)

I got the point. My intent was to illustrate one path to the objective - not the only one.

Just prospecting as a single man is not a paying profession. Prospectors seek and miners remove what prospectors find. Prospecting without the skills involved in mining means you will have to sell your discoveries. To sell those discoveries you need a knowledge of, and credibility, in the industry of mining - my point.

There are at least two prospectors on this forum who make a decent paycheck from the recurring payments received from the mining leases on their prospecting discoveries. Both of those individuals are trained professionals with degrees and practical experience in the industry. Both these individuals also nugget hunt. I doubt either one of them could even pay the grocery bill much less their mortgage, utilities, medical and transportation costs from the gold in hand they get by nugget hunting despite their education and years of experience. That doesn't mean it's impossible to do but if successful pros haven't been able to pull it off ...

There are thousands of professional prospectors working all over the mining states in an industry that generates more than a billion dollars a year. They would be really puzzled by any implication they aren't prospectors or that they work for the big mining companies. These guys and gals actually hike into rugged areas to work long hours in the desert and snow. When not researching potential prospects their working days are spent in the field. They, virtually to the person, love that aspect of their profession. Their job involves real boots on the ground prospecting and not a one of them would consider wearing cowboy boots or Italian shoes while they do their work. Very few of them are dickheads but feel free to call them out on that and see just how tough real professional full time prospectors are. :4chsmu1:

In my profession we deal with a lot of these 2-8 man companies. I think every one of them would tell you that without a real working knowledge of the industry and some intense education and research you can't survive as a prospector in today's world. Sniffing around for nuggets is a great pastime but it doesn't consistently pay the bills. If you are only prospecting for gold you will walk right over valuable prospects for other metals and minerals that could pay your bills while you look for the next nugget. Don't worry though, while you may miss the easy payoff there will be a professional right behind you to prospect, claim, explore and lease those minerals so they can continue paying their bills while prospecting for their next payout.

Prospecting is just one of the skilled jobs in the mining industry. Mining (including prospecting) has been an industry for all of recorded history. Little has changed over that history because like most real professions what actually works doesn't change much over time. Trying to go against the flow of what actually works in mining would be akin to deciding, as an electrician, that the 50 amp leg you are putting in will be fine supported by a 16 gauge solid aluminum wire. You just can't fool mother nature - the real world will always come back to smack you into sense if you survive your hubris. Mining is a well developed group of professional jobs that work together to bring metals and minerals to market at a profit. Even the smallest prospector will eventually have to engage other members of the mining profession if only to take advantage of the existing market structure and quality assurance (assays).

A real paying gold strike of any size is going to require either employees or partners to get the gold out and turn it into money. Just wandering between nugget patches hoping the next patch will feed you long enough is a tough row to hoe. I already wrote that didn't I? Seems to be a recurring theme over the last few thousand years.

A prospector who doesn't think they belong in the mining industry will have to find another profession. Prospecting has been an integral and essential part of the mining business since day one. Pretending you can work outside the industry while hoping to make a living without the education and knowledge to be gained from thousands of years is a formula for failure. I tried to suggest one way to gain the knowledge and experience you will need while transitioning from electrician to full time prospector. I'm sure other professionals can add some real working knowledge of how that might be successfully accomplished. All personal opinions and sartorial suggestions are also welcome. :old:

Edited by clay
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These forums are a type of social media (like YouTube, FaceBook, etc.) where reality is often distorted in the viewers perception. You see a few people posting gold photos consistently and suddenly it seems very easy to accomplish. Same with reality shows. There are far more lurkers than posters and some of the most successful prospectors - detectorists never join a forum or participate in social media. It’s just not their thing. What you don’t know is as meaningful as what you do know, and as Clay noted - aside from gold, there are many other opportunities with natural resources. Knowledge is a big key. 

Finding gold consistently is fairly easy to do with experience. Finding enough to exist is one thing, finding enough to thrive is another. It all circles back to what you want and need, especially with living standards. Many people don’t know what they want other than the fact that they want change and more control over their lives. Deciding to be an independent miner is fundamentally a form of risk assessment. Like a few others here, I’ve done small scale and agree that it’s hard work and risk. You have to treat it like a business, because it is. It can be romantic/legendary in thought and it can make for good memories, especially if you can laugh at hard times. There are plenty of places where good gold still exists, and the bottom line is no one gets it all. Everyone leaves gold. It can be fun to chase crumbs, try to find what others may have overlooked or left behind because of something far better in their sights, or be the first in an area to find the big gold trophy nuggets.

My daughter recently graduated with her first college degree and is pursuing her second. Before she started college my wife and I asked her to think about what she wanted her days to look like 5, 10, 15, 20, and 30 years from that point in time. It took awhile but she came up with an answer. From there we just needed to apply some ideas about how she could accomplish those states. We knew the end goal, so we began journey planning with that in mind. People change, and their dreams and goals change. Life is short so again, there is nothing wrong with taking a chance if you want to. You can always change course. My point is this, what do you want your working days and your future to look like - construction sites or the gold fields? Are you willing to accept the risks that come with striking out on your own?

I have a friend who was in the construction business for himself here in the lower 48. He really wanted to go to Alaska and try his hand at independent mining, so he pulled up stakes here and went north. A lot of research went into the decision and he ended up being a handyman for a few years, but eventually acquired a few claims. Having prospected Alaska myself, I agree Alaska is vast with huge potential. But it’s not a cakewalk. He still has yet to make a profit and maybe when this season is done he will, I sure hope so. Just because you’re passionate about something does not mean that you won’t suck at it. Avocation vs vocation. 

Other friends of ours wanted to live the “van life”. He and his wife sold their house, 95% of everything they owned, paid off all debt, and hit the road after completing a van build. They kept some cash, made some investments, and now work part time/seasonal jobs to keep their savings as intact as possible. They absolutely love it and never plan on looking back. Now with prospecting you could do the same and give yourself a safety net of sorts. Success, satisfaction, and happiness have different definitions for us all.

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I fully understand the question he was asking. I was just shocked by how much he made being in a skilled profession like that. I would love to live in the mountains full time chasing nuggets and gold but unfortunately i still have many bills like a mortgage and a vehicle payment. Now IF a person was retired and had a set monthly income, then yeah you could probably do it if you didn't burn through your income doing it. Just because you make 400 dollars a week doesn't mean that was enough to pay the bills and be comfortable. Thats the other thing to look at. Now if that was enough to live off of comfortably, then by all means 100 bucks in gold per day should be enough. Good luck!

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1 hour ago, clay said:

In my profession we deal with a lot of these 2-8 man companies. I think every one of them would tell you that without a real working knowledge of the industry and some intense education and research you can't survive as a prospector in today's world. Sniffing around for nuggets is a great pastime but it doesn't consistently pay the bills. If you are only prospecting for gold you will walk right over valuable prospects for other metals and minerals that could pay your bills while you look for the next nugget. Don't worry though, while you may miss the easy payoff there will be a professional right behind you to prospect, claim, explore and lease those minerals so they can continue paying their bills while prospecting for their next payout.

Clay you nailed it right on the head. My family buys and sells/leases mining claims to bigger companies. My wifes uncle is an independent geologist and has made 7 figures doing this. But like you said, without the prospecting, the big mines and mining would not be what they are now. Thats the bad thing about mining/prospecting, the payoff could be great but eventually it runs out and you are stuck with a lot of weeks or months or even years without a steady paycheck. I dont know.

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4 hours ago, LipCa said:

Bob, any electrician that works for $12 an hour in your town must do it because they want to or, how can I say it nicely, because they don't know any better.  All they have to do is drive 10 minutes to the east or 30 minutes to the south and be in the money and benefits.....

They work for those wages because they have to do it to survive here. The problem is a whole lot more complex than just driving ten minutes to find a better job. Wage disparity for skilled tradesmen is one of the most challenging problems in our country today. It is not the tradesman's fault that this situation exists nor does it indicate ignorance or lack of motivation on the part of the tradesman.

 

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Posted (edited)
4 hours ago, clay said:

I got the point. My intent was to illustrate one path to the objective - not the only one.

 

It seems one or the other of us has failed to understand the objective. I thought the objective was to discuss making a living prospecting for placer gold on an individual basis. A far cry from wanting to be a "miner" or "prospector" in the context that you are speaking about.

I understood him to be interested in eking out a living doing what (most of us) are doing for a hobby. Not as a tradesman working for a mining operation or a prospector locating mineable deposits to market to a big mining company.  I thought his "point" was living on his own terms in the placer gold fields. 

Electrician, If a better paying job pulling wire on a mine operation is what sets your soul free then go for it. I understood the post to be about something a lot more philosophical.

Edited by Bedrock Bob
Live your dreams man. Life is short and skinny.
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5 hours ago, LipCa said:

"...any electrician that works for $12 an hour in your town must do it because they want to or, how can I say it nicely, because they don't know any better.  All they have to do is drive 10 minutes to the east or 30 minutes to the south and be in the money and benefits.....

If only it were that simple!!! But their are guys that cannot get work anywhere but the low-ballers. Usually due to bad personal decisions or are in-between major projects.

"MY" area goes something like this-

All the major players that pay great money, the requirements are that you are a member of the good ol boys club. These companies are extremely incestuous. Family and friends. The outsiders do ALL the work under the "management" of the club. Pay is great, decent benefits, little to no profit sharing. They do mass layoffs after major projects (1+ year projects) and use temp manpower to do a lot of the manual labor portion for the skilled tradesman.

The next group of good payers, $#!t you out as soon as the project is over. They go after the low hanging fruit, leaving us to hunt work after a few months or more of good pay but NO benefits. Their projects are spaced sporadically, could be a 6 month wait. Can't feed a family like this, maybe good for the young folks that do not have financial skills. 

Low ballers, usually have steady work, but pay crap and little to no benefits. The "skilled" tradesman does ALL the work, usually solo or if your lucky you'll get an apprentice for certain projects. These companies dangle the carrot of "steady" work.

Finding a permanent home as a "commercial/industrial" electrician is difficult. If you're on the residential side, you really should work the service end. It pays well here, in the right company. Commissions on service tickets run 35-65% plus your hourly rate, company truck, gas card, etc. The hours for service folks are HORRID. You're on call 24/7/365. Friends of mine work this side and they take home $95-120K a year. But they're never home, that money just sits in the bank. No vacations, no outings, picnics, get togethers, nada. 

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If you've never worked in the construction trades, it's difficult to wrap your head around how it all works. 

 

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4 minutes ago, Electrician said:

If only it were that simple!!! But their are guys that cannot get work anywhere but the low-ballers. Usually due to bad personal decisions or are in-between major projects.

"MY" area goes something like this-

All the major players that pay great money, the requirements are that you are a member of the good ol boys club. These companies are extremely incestuous. Family and friends. The outsiders do ALL the work under the "management" of the club. Pay is great, decent benefits, little to no profit sharing. They do mass layoffs after major projects (1+ year projects) and use temp manpower to do a lot of the manual labor portion for the skilled tradesman.

The next group of good payers, $#!t you out as soon as the project is over. They go after the low hanging fruit, leaving us to hunt work after a few months or more of good pay but NO benefits. Their projects are spaced sporadically, could be a 6 month wait. Can't feed a family like this, maybe good for the young folks that do not have financial skills. 

Low ballers, usually have steady work, but pay crap and little to no benefits. The "skilled" tradesman does ALL the work, usually solo or if your lucky you'll get an apprentice for certain projects. These companies dangle the carrot of "steady" work.

Finding a permanent home as a "commercial/industrial" electrician is difficult. If you're on the residential side, you really should work the service end. It pays well here, in the right company. Commissions on service tickets run 35-65% plus your hourly rate, company truck, gas card, etc. The hours for service folks are HORRID. You're on call 24/7/365. Friends of mine work this side and they take home $95-120K a year. But they're never home, that money just sits in the bank. No vacations, no outings, picnics, get togethers, nada. 

Sounds like you are living the reality too my friend. I slept in motels, chased jobs all over the southwest and burned a million gallons of gasoline trying to make a career out of it.

Oilfield, mining, and construction is all the same. Only the chosen few can make good permanent careers out of it. The rest do the lions share of the work and have to duct tape their boots together to feed the kids. They live in apartments and trailer parks in towns that most Americans would not live in. They get stuck in the tradesman role due to their financial situation and never make it to supervisory or management positions. As the larger companies cannibalize the smaller ones opportunity shrinks, things get more vertical and situations become even more impossible for the working man. And the work is always boom and bust.

As you pointed out the only sure way to make a good living for your family is to work all the time. Many construction and extraction jobs are super long shifts and strange hours that demand a guy have a whole support crew to handle it. A single man just cant work 30 days straight for 12 hour shifts and still feed and clothe himself. He can't have a life at all. He can only offer a life for someone at home who can back him up. The same living in a motel somewhere on a project that demands your full attention. Or even a local residential contractor. Most have unrealistic expectations of what a man can handle for the compensation he is getting. Often it is not about the money it is about a schedule that balances home life with work and allows at least a day or two per month to relax. This is almost unheard of in positions that pay a living wage now days. 

Most trades jobs these days are balls to the wall until it is done. Then you draw unemployment until something else comes along. Either that or you move to Clovis and work on that new pipeline project. Maybe you can get a job for the government contractor but the contract is up for bid next year and they might not get it again. Maybe go off to Kuwait for a 2 year contract and hope your wife and kids still call you daddy when you get back. 

These are the realities in the industrial trades gigs. And it is only getting meaner and more demanding as time goes by.

 

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So im not sure about the mines there Bob, but here 99% of the shift's are a 5-4 schedule. Meaning you rotate between working 5 days on then 4 days off. Then 4 days on and 5 days off. I work Tuesday through Friday and am hourly. The salary folks work Monday through Thursday. The work is as steady as you would ever want and you can do all the OT you want or just work your schedule. The only people around here that work crazy days in a row are exploration companies. Even then the mines are starting to limit their exposure hours "time worked" for safety reasons. There are regular hourly employees that clear 6 digits a year and have 5 days off at a time to play and spend time with the family. Thats only working half a month. Heck even the lower end employees clear $80,000 a year. It is the best industry i have ever been in and I've been at it for almost 13 years now. I have friends that have 4 to 6 years of college and they get what the mining industry pays its entry level folks. It is hard to beat. I wish i could work the hills with my boys and bring in what i make now. Talk about a dream job.

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My current schedule is 5 on 2 off, NO chance for overtime unless there was a PAID holiday prior, then the company still only pays straight time for "actual" work hours on site. The next gig, runs til March 2020, is 4 10s and 2 8s MANDATORY.

If I could pull 2-3 GRAMS a day outta the ground, I'd be happy. No bull riding my @$$ to work faster. No more company BS. No more politics. 

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The last job I had was a salaried position that was supposed to be a 5 day a week job. Managing Haz Mat and asbestos abatement projects for New Mexico State University.  I worked 10-12 hours a day and most of the actual work I supervised was on the weekend. So I wound up working about 60 hours a week and was on site each and every day for weeks on end. It was salaried so I made the same pay no matter how many hours I worked.

Once in a while I would have a lull in jobs and have some free time on a weekday afternoon. I had to take sick leave to get off early no matter how many hours I had worked that pay period. If I rolled in 15 minutes late for lunch I had to take it off my sick leave. If I needed time to get a haircut or go to the bank during business hours I had to get approval to leave the site and take it off my sick leave. I don't know how many times I had 60 hours on my time card and an hour or so sick leave off my balance because I had to run an errand or do some personal business.

Employees got lots of holidays and a nice 11 day winter holiday. But since my gig was asbestos and Haz Mat cleanup my jobs were scheduled over the holidays and long weekends. So while everyone else got those days off I was expected to work. For free. And have that asbestos outta there when they came back from vacation. And if I needed some time off I could take sick leave. I worked two Christmases in a row. I was scheduled to work Christmas number three but didn't quite make it that far.

My boss showed up about three days a week and generally lasted until about lunch unless they were handing out awards in the afternoon. She made a $125K a year and had a car, a big office, a phone and all her internet and computer hardware was paid for by the college. Travel budget, company card and the works. She was a purple blur of silicone, mascara, pills and alcohol. She was a student at the college whose father made a million dollar endowment fund so she could get accepted into a PhD program. She got her PhD and then got a job managing a department. She had been going to that campus every day for 40 years and had never worked anywhere else in her life. 

She has a young hotshot managing her projects now. I'm making a hundred bucks a day in the desert and things are just peachy. 

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Posted (edited)

Just saw this post. I'm going to give you the answer you have been looking for.. The answer is yes you can find 100$ a day in gold assuming the weather is in your favor and you have mastered the basics of finding gold... If you haven't earned many oz s of gold in your mining from trial and error and just expect success look someplace else. 

Edited by boulder dash
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Posted (edited)

Come to the California Sierras....many little towns along the old Motherlode hwy 49....electricians up here make good money..you can prospect part time. If you get your contractor's license you can ask and will get a easy 45 to 55 bucks per hour. Heck just as a handyman electrician doing service work you can command a great hourly rate. My family moved from Chicago..all my uncles are electricians, including myself....actually these days I spend all my time chasing that dream.... :) :barnie:detecting for gold. But reality is I'd make more pulling wire.  But like the rest said..and I agree, its a tough go at the gold game...but not impossible to average out 100 bucks a day throughout the year. 

Edited by Relichunter2016
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Just know that if it were easy everyone would be doing it. Relichunter has it right; have a good vocation as a back-up and then follow your dreams.

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