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If your job pays $100 per day, could you find $100 worth of gold daily and quit your "job"?

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Well there are other things you need to look at also, and one of those is having a reliable buyer that pays a good price. Remember,  you very rarely get spot prices for gold, so selling it is a big part.

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You would need to find more than 100 dollars a day worth of gold there are other costs you have to look at like insurance retirement taxes at 100 dollars a day of gold you are going broke

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Gold Placers and Placering in Arizona

"A person not in robust health or one who has not sufficient funds to finance his entire trip runs a splendid chance of starving to death If he tackles placer mining in Arizona"

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Posted (edited)

Electrician,

  If you are an electrician, I have buddys out here in Las Vegas that are electricians, making $35-40 an hour..... I dont know a fully qualified electrician making under $20 an hour.... I would go that route, than $100 a day...

Edited by DolanDave
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12 hours ago, Electrician said:

If your job pays $100 per day, could you find $100 worth of gold daily and quit your "job"?

here are a couple of realities to consider.

Experience. Gold prospecting requires a command of a lot of disciplines. That takes time. It takes skill to make money at any job and gold prospecting is no different. That skill and experience comes with time invested. Without that experience there is no way you can break even much less make money.

Location. Mineable earth that pays in gold value is rare. Any spots that have been found have been claimed and probably worked. You will need to find gold in gravel rich enough to recover $100 a day in a quantity to last you indefinitely. Otherwise you are going to have to find many good spots to work. That takes a lot of unpaid hours of searching and a bunch of knowledge. See the previous paragraph.

I know a whole bunch of "independent miners" and I can tell you exactly zero of them can rub two nickels together. They only actually work a few days a year. The rest of their time is spent welding on some contraption or living in their head.

Guys that come from a farming or mining background that have access to rich ground are the only folks that have a chance at independent placer mining. That is a rare situation that they are most likely born with. 

A guy that has years of experience at prospecting and knows a few good producing areas can make a profitable hobby from it. You have to love it and obsess on gold for years before you can go out and snap up the nuggets. You must live in an area that produces fantastic gold and have access to good ground. You must do your thing in secret or have sole access or someone else is going to work your spot too. If all that lines up you might make $100 a day for your time spent. Maybe.

You can make a whole lot more cash a whole lot easier working at Wal Mart. Sometimes at Wal Mart a hot chick comes around with her boobies falling out. That don't happen when you are digging holes in the old hard ground. And your blisters don't split and bleed from collecting shopping carts either.

So if you are after a hundred frogskins a day I would go to work at Wal Mart part time. You can prospect the cracks in the sidewalk at Wal Mart after work and make more than you can the first year combing the desert for gold.

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First, last time I checked anything the state government published, there is gold being produced in AZ, but it is all Lode gold, and nearly all that comes as a byproduct of copper production.  Does that mean people aren't earning a living off a placer operation? I bet they are.  Out of 6 million people in the state, I bet that there are six people doing what you want, and earning about $100 a day on average.  I'll bet there's 600+ people a year that get into this hobby and spend hundreds to thousands of dollars, never to make it back.

I'm not telling you that you may be the one that is the 1:100 that make it.  I actually don't the odds are worst.

The guy who got me into this, told me of a tale how he went to another state, set up an operation, and pulled 18 ounces out of the ground on a placer op.  I found that very motivating.  What I don't know now, years after he told me the story, is if that's his cut for moving to another state or if he split it with his other two partners.  I also don't know if that is what he paid expenses for.  I do know that a lifetime of part time gold hunting left him a few ounces of gold nuggets he'd found throughout the years, and that one story.  He also had a small military pension that paid a lot of his real bills. 

Most people are not that lucky.  With the few people that open up to what they find, a good average day in central AZ would be a third of a gram, and a super day may be a gram.  A gram would cover the gas it takes to get me to the gold fields, a soda, a bag of chips, some beef jerky, and some lotto tickets.  Very, very few times have I found a gram.

I don't know if the vulture mine is hiring.  I think I saw something advertised a few weeks ago that would pay more than $100 per day.  This link is a year old, but you're more likely to not go bankrupt doing this: https://nuggetshooter.ipbhost.com/topic/32297-vulture-mine-is-hiring/?tab=comments#comment-295988

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The realistic answer to the question is "no." If it were possible you would see a heck of a lot more people out there doing it. In the majority of cases this is a hobby and an expensive one at that. Just the overhead to get to the point of pulling in $100 a day is extensive: the research, the experience, the leg work in the field and the equipment means it will take time to break even. I would keep welding.

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I mined full time for a living for about 7 years and did pretty well financially...But what whooped me and my partners was the crew (37 of them) shutting down the pumps whenever we partners left the mine, and jumping into the sluice...They stole some major big nuggets and the local store owner had a deal to guarantee he'd buy any gold from our operation...We finally went broke after an especially hard wet and snowy winter up in the Klamath Mountains on a North Fork, Salmon River trib... But during my years dredging with a 4" Keene I did average about 1 ozt per week... But when gold prices skyrocketed  every swingin' richard in the country started making finding ground quite difficult...Fortunately, as an experienced local, I knew some of the best hidden and productive places ... Mining was challenging to be consistent but back in the day you could do it...Now, I don't think one out of every thousand folks who try to make it is successful....But you've got to take into consideration  that prospecting and mining is the most fun you can have with your knickers pulled up.....Cheers, Unc

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21 hours ago, Electrician said:

If your job pays $100 per day, could you find $100 worth of gold daily and quit your "job"?

If you're married..... don't even think about it.

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Good question, and smart to ask before you leap. Prospecting full time is not quitting your job, it's trading your current job for another one. The dirt business is hard work.

I’ve met more than one millionaire who were told they would never succeed, and many times that number of people who gave up on their dreams when the road got rocky. There are wealthy people who are miserable, and people who barely eek out a living who are truly happy. Trade your expectations for appreciation and the world will change for you.

We all walk our own path. Live fully, experience the things you want.
Have fun, be different. Everyone screws up so sometime, friends, lovers, partners, just be ready to enjoy the process and allow the lessons to make you better. Good luck!

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Don't consider myself a MINER but I sure am one of those infected with GOLD FEVER. Caught it at Lynx Creek about 15 years ago. Two metal detectors, drywasher, dredge and many accessories plus memberships in three clubs later, I consider the cost as treatment of the fever. I know my gold will never cover the cost. Most of the time the cost of gas is more than the gold I recover. If I had taken up golf the cost of clubs, balls, carts and greens fees or memberships would have been as much or more. I've never calculated the monetary value of the gold I have found but the memories are priceless. Due to age, and summer heat in Az it is getting more difficult to get out but as long as I can stick a shovel in the ground and carry a bucket of paydirt, I'll keep making memories. As for the question of this thread, I suspect most of those individuals who make a living at this are those who sell products or charge fees for services. Without them, I would not have been able to pursue my recreational activities.                                                                                   My gratitude goes out to all those who have supported my endeavors over the years.  Got Questions?  Ask Nuggetshooters !

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21 hours ago, DolanDave said:

Electrician,

  If you are an electrician, I have buddys out here in Las Vegas that are electricians, making $35-40 an hour..... I dont know a fully qualified electrician making under $20 an hour.... I would go that route, than $100 a day...

Yeah DolanDave, I am a 4th year commercial/industrial electrician. I'm barely taking home $400 a week after the fuel and expenses of "working" on multi-million dollar projects (privatizing profits, while wages and benefits are thrown out in the public sector).

This is what prompted my OP, I'm getting older and tired of making others extremely friggin' wealthy from my blood, sweat and tears.

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9 hours ago, FlakMagnet said:

I would keep welding.

Interesting, you're a welder? What industry? 

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13 hours ago, Bedrock Bob said:

I know a whole bunch of "independent miners" and I can tell you exactly zero of them can rub two nickels together. They only actually work a few days a year. The rest of their time is spent welding on some contraption or living in their head.

I was referring to this line from Bob...

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Posted (edited)

Nearly 1/4 million people mine full time for a living in the United States. Mining can be a very profitable profession. Trained journeyman and master electricians (IBEW?) are an employable group in mining. The wages and benefits are better than most other skilled professions.

Prospecting on the other hand is a highly technical and speculative profession that can pay off very well occasionally. If you are prepared for long periods between paychecks in an interesting job with a significant risk profile prospecting might work for you.

The problem with a lone individual making a living prospecting is that you will be in competition with some seriously smart, educated, motivated and experienced professionals with financing. Mostly exploration geologists working in groups of three to eight or so. That business is highly competitive right now due to the squeeze the big mining companies are experiencing and the lack of available financing from skittish stock markets.

Prospectors by the very nature of their profession do not mine - they sell, partner or lease the mineral deposits they have discovered and defined. It really helps to understand the current market and company needs as well as having some inside contacts if you want to go that route. A degree from a good mining school is also a good idea. Untrained and unknown prospectors with even a fantastic discovery are going to have a very difficult time getting in the door of a potential mining partner these days.

If you are thinking of prospecting/mining as a single person job you've got a tough row to hoe. The knowledge base, skill set and physical requirements are much greater than mining for a living or prospecting. In Arizona, on BLM managed lands, there are currently about 25 permitted placer gold mining operations. How many of these are profitable is anyone's guess as that information is kept private but in my experience I would be surprised if more than two or three of those are active, profitable operations at any given time. I guarantee you the profitable ones have paid their dues many times over to get where they are.

I know of a few metal detectorists in Arizona, California, Nevada that could potentially make a reasonable living by full timing  but they all keep their day job. Swinging a detector full time to feed your family is a risky proposition. I do know a few placer and lode miners who manage to feed their families with shovels, breaker bars, sledges, drills, dredges and backbreaking work but I'm sure they would tell you it's not a job that you could ride into retirement age or one that you could continue profitably if you were injured or you had unexpected expenses arise.

Maybe consider keeping your current profession but get a job at a mine as an electrician. Keep your ears and eyes open, learn the business side of mining and make some contacts. Perhaps after a few years working at different mines and you might then know if it's even a profession you would enjoy. If you decide it's the thing for you try to sell your skills to an exploration group or even a junior mining company so you can see how professional prospectors work.  The whole time work to make those ever valuable contacts within the industry. That's just one possible path to work your way into full time prospecting for profit. Hopefully others in the industry can chime in with their point of view.

Edited by clay
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11 hours ago, Uncle Ron said:

I mined full time for a living for about 7 years and did pretty well financially...But what whooped me and my partners was the crew (37 of them) shutting down the pumps whenever we partners left the mine, and jumping into the sluice...They stole some major big nuggets and the local store owner had a deal to guarantee he'd buy any gold from our operation...We finally went broke after an especially hard wet and snowy winter up in the Klamath Mountains on a North Fork, Salmon River trib... But during my years dredging with a 4" Keene I did average about 1 ozt per week... But when gold prices skyrocketed  every swingin' richard in the country started making finding ground quite difficult...Fortunately, as an experienced local, I knew some of the best hidden and productive places ... Mining was challenging to be consistent but back in the day you could do it...Now, I don't think one out of every thousand folks who try to make it is successful....But you've got to take into consideration  that prospecting and mining is the most fun you can have with your knickers pulled up.....Cheers, Unc

Very good point Ron. The majority of paying placer operations that fail do so because of the sticky finger problem.

If the placer deposit is big enough to pay out for a reasonable time you will need to work with employees or working partners. Both are notorious for taking their pay out of the box and "forgetting" about their five finger bonuses when payday comes around. Security takes on a whole new meaning when you are working with friends and partners.

Gold often causes reasonable people do some very unreasonable things.

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10 hours ago, Electrician said:

Yeah DolanDave, I am a 4th year commercial/industrial electrician. I'm barely taking home $400 a week after the fuel and expenses of "working" on multi-million dollar projects (privatizing profits, while wages and benefits are thrown out in the public sector).

This is what prompted my OP, I'm getting older and tired of making others extremely friggin' wealthy from my blood, sweat and tears.

Dude that is rough, especially for a skilled trade like that. I work for the mining industry in northern Nevada and the electricians are the highest paid on the mine sites. Im talking 38 to 45 bucks an hour for a 12.5 hr day. Thats some good pay! Might be worth looking into for ya. 

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9 hours ago, clay said:

Nearly 1/4 million people mine full time for a living in the United States. Mining can be a very profitable profession. Trained journeyman and master electricians (IBEW?) are an employable group in mining. The wages and benefits are better than most other skilled professions.

These are not miners these are tradesmen. These are wage earners working at a corporate mining operation. Only a tiny handful are independent miners and the vast majority of them fail for the reasons outlined above. 

The discussion was about an individual getting out of that rat race and fossicking a hundred bucks a day as an independent. Not getting a corporate job as an electrician in the mining industry.

For all practical purposes mining = construction when you are talking about wages, skilled crafts involved, actual work processes performed, etc. etc. A skilled craftsman can work for peanuts making a contractor wealthy or he can play the corporate game on bigger jobs (or mines) and make Davis Bacon wages or better. Or he can get disgusted with the whole soul sucking scene and strike out on his own.

In other words I don't see the discussion as being about getting a job in the mining industry. Nor "prospecting" as it relates to the mining industry. I don't see the discussion being about the mining industry at all. I see it as a discussion about freedom and doing something more meaningful before you get old. 

An independent prospector is to the mining industry what a deer hunter is to the meat processing business. No one smells the crisp fall air and yearns to get a job pulling the hides off cattle. Likewise an electrician unfulfilled with years of pulling wire for a dickhead in cowboy boots on a construction job does not dream of pulling wire for a dickhead in Italian shoes on a copper mine.

He wants to go out and find some placer gold and be free of all the BS.

At least that is how I see it. 

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I was just going off his trade and wage Bob. Thats what i was comparing. 

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27 minutes ago, Bedrock Bob said:

"...dickhead in cowboy boots..."

I laughed out loud, you must know my past and present leads/foremans 

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We all understand your past…that's a huge reason why we are all here - to evade dickheads in cowboy boots and Italian shoes. 

 

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35 minutes ago, nugget108 said:

I was just going off his trade and wage Bob. Thats what i was comparing. 

I got that. And no doubt most tradesmen are undervalued in the private sector and sometimes grossly overvalued in certain other situations. I have been a tradesman most of my life and supervised skilled trades for the rest of it. I started out in residential construction and had a residential building company for 15 years. Then I went to heavy construction and construction management. I worked for Bechtel, Phelps Dodge, NASA, Ch2M Hill, Freeport McMoRan and also the State of New Mexico.  So I know how the construction/mining industry works and the wage disparity.

Everyone needs to get paid what they are worth. In my town an electrician in the private sector hires on for $12 an hour with no vacation or benefits. Ten miles to the east on a Government job they make $35 per hour with great bennies. Thirty miles to the south they can make $45 per hour. All of them live in the same community and do the same work. Ten percent of them can provide for their families and the rest live in mobile homes and rely on public assistance to take up the slack.

All of them wish they were out in the desert walking around with no responsibilities no matter how much they make. 

I was just pointing out to Clay that his definition of "mining" and "prospecting" was completely different from what the OP as well as most of us here define it. Even if the definition is technically accurate. And that my interpretation of the post was not about the need for getting a job in the mining industry but rather experiencing life before it slips away.

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29 minutes ago, Bedrock Bob said:

Everyone needs to get paid what they are worth. In my town an electrician in the private sector hires on for $12 an hour with no vacation or benefits. Ten miles to the east on a Government job they make $35 per hour with great bennies. Thirty miles to the south they can make $45 per hour. All of them live in the same community and do the same work. Ten percent of them can provide for their families and the rest live in mobile homes and rely on public assistance to take up the slack.

All of them wish they were out in the desert walking around with no responsibilities no matter how much they make. 

THIS, you know your $#!t Bob ...

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45 minutes ago, Bedrock Bob said:

my interpretation of the post was not about the need for getting a job in the mining industry but rather experiencing life before it slips away.

The point...

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