Sunday, November 22, 2009

Rich Gold Ore

More than 8000 people go into the Superstition mountains every year in search of the famous Lost Dutchman gold mine. This mine is said to be possibly the richest gold mine ever found. At least 80 different people have claimed to have found it, but of course very few had any gold to show, and only one had ore which matched the ore found in the candlebox under the deathbed of Jacob Waltz.

Now the skeptics love to ridicule the whole story and claim that no mine ever existed, there was never any "Dutchman" and so on. At the other end of the spectrum, the "fringe" fanatics hold faith in some of the most outrageous stories. The truth is that there was such a person as the Dutchman, a German named Jacob Waltz, and he had ore which is unique,unlike the ore found in any known source. He got that ore somewhere, and from the ore itself we can conclude that his mine was of a type that is not common - a hypothermal vein, perhaps even one of the rare "chimney" type gold deposits which have historically produced massive amounts of gold, and run to great depths.

Waltz's ore was rich indeed - assayer Joe Porterie did an assay on the ore for Holmes,who got possession of the candlebox, and came up with an astonishing $110,000 in gold per ton of the ore, (gold then priced @ $20.67 per ounce) or some 5300 ounces per ton. Now this is impressive to any prospector or treasure hunter, but let us talk about rich gold ores for a moment. Is this in fact the richest gold ore ever found, or the richest ore from a lost gold mine, for that matter is it even possible?

Another of the famous lost gold mines of the west is the Lost Breyfogle mine, long searched for in Death Valley, Nevada and California. The mine is not really lost,for the Amargosa gold mine was found to have ore which matches existing ore samples from Breyfogle, and it assayed at over $13,000 in gold to the ton. This is rich ore by any standard, but is not even close to the ore of Waltz.

A photo of the famous matchbox made from ore found under the deathbed of Jacob Waltz

The nearly as famous Lost Cement gold mine of California had peculiar ore which looked like a reddish cement, loaded with lumps of gold. No one has ever found this mine since the 1800's, but from the descriptions of people who held and examined samples of this unusual gold ore, it was said to be nearly one-fourth to two-thirds pure gold. Even by the lowest estimate of one-fourth gold, this is roughly $124,000 per ton or 6000 ounces per ton of ore, richer than the Lost Dutchman! At today's prices this Cement ore would be worth over $6,600,000 per ton.

I could cite some examples of silver mines which come close to being this rich, even a few which were found to have pure slabs of native silver. However as we are talking about gold mines and gold ores, I will stick to gold.

Now our professional skeptics will dismiss such rich gold ores as "specimens" that is they were tiny bits of ore, surely not more than a shallow pocket which would have been quickly mined out and nothing remains to be found. This particular argument has been used by a number of claimants to having found the Lost Dutchman, but it simply won't hold water. Rich gold ores do occur in small pockets and tiny specimens, heck in the "old days" a good flim flam artist could go into a played out gold mine and "high grade" it (not the thieving version of highgrading) - carefully chip away rock so as to leave as much gold showing as possible, in order to sell it to speculators who were unaware that hardly any gold remained in the mine. Our skeptics however do not apparently know enough of geology or they would realize that while such small pockets DO occur, it is very possible and natural for extremely rich gold veins to be found in nature, and they have been found.

For example here in the Black Hills, one gold mine which was also found by a Dutchman, had ore which put even the Lost Dutchman and Lost Cement ores to shame. It was 80 percent gold, and in the mine two slabs of pure gold were found. This is nearly $400,000 per ton at the old $20.67 per ounce price, or some 19200 ounces of gold in every ton of ore. Placer miners have found nuggets of gold too, some of enormous size but this is gold which has weathered out of the host rock. *Please don't ask me the name of this particular mine amigos, I have my eye on it myself if it should become available to buy!*

Bottom line here is, these many legends and stories of lost gold, silver, turquoise, diamond mines scattered all over the country are mostly based on fact. There are some real fiction stories in the mix too, and a few of the lost mines are no longer lost, such as the Breyfogle mentioned earlier or the famous Tayopa mine complex in Mexico, but there are literally hundreds of lost mines and ledges that are out there just waiting for some persistent and lucky prospector or treasure hunter to find them and bring that treasure out. Gold veins so rich that a few tons of the ore would make you truly rich and silver lodes too. This is not fantasy but real geology amigos. With all of our high technology today it seems almost unbelievable that such riches could remain un-found, but these mines, veins and ledges are not easy to find, and a very rich vein can take up a remarkably small area - the famous Lost Dutchman referred to earlier for example had an entrance no larger than a barrel, and Waltz did his best to hide even that - so don't go expecting to find some huge tunnels and shafts that a bulldozer could fall into. Get your gold pan, shovel and rock hammer, do some research and learn some basic geology, and you just might "strike it rich"!

Good luck and good hunting amigos, I hope you find the treasures that you seek - and should you find one of those lost mines or ledges, please drop me a note so I can congratulate you.

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