On Exploration

(Or, How to Grow a Gold Mine – Part 2)

I was laying on my right side, sampling as usual, in the mouldly smelling pit water of an unshored, narrow goldmine tunnel, fifty feet below the African savannah. The air was damp, dull and warm. I was covered in sweat and mud. Reddish soil, sand and stones ran through my fingers in the flickering light of my torch. Every now and then I saw a golden glimmer. I filled a bucket, scoop after scoop with this soil and crawled back to the mineshaft, hung it to a rope and tugged twice. This was our signal to lift it up. After the rope returned it was then for me to follow.

Back home in our ‘furry’ hut I examined the sample. Weighed the bucket, washed the gravel, refined, collected, weighed again and finally calculated the gold. Fourteen PPM, nearly half a troy ounce per metric ton, was my result. Not bad! But also quite unusual for this area. My average samples used to be around three PPM and were from nicely rounded grains to pea size nuggets. These looked more flat and crystalline. It seemed as if I was coming closer to the mother lode or had detected a new and very interesting layer. I wasn’t quite sure about that. Further examinations will have to follow.

Years have passed since I had washed my very first sample of gold with a scooped out calabash in a pollywog puddle. Meanwhile it had become a routine to examine every ant and termite hill, the excavations from toad, mouse and rat holes, runlets, ditches, riverbeds and other mines. I dug holes, drilled holes, marked every position with my GPS and on maps, weighed, measured and calculated every sample in PPM, noted everything including depth of find and the nature of the surrounding ground and rocks in my field diary. On one hand dull daily routine stuff, on the other hand it was exciting to see how the jigsaw puzzle of information slowly turned into an image, a true treasure map that revealed the road the gold took from its source of origin to the actual place where I discovered it. The excitement of the first finds had gone and made space for a newly much deeper joy of knowledge about the mine that is going to grow under the work of my hands.

If I had to name three words for exploration I would call it, sampling, sampling, sampling. That is all. And always be precise!

After prospecting has given you proof of the existance of gold, exploration then tells you how much is there, where it is allocated and what effort you will have to undertake to separate the value from the dirt. This detailed roadmaping and cost analysing is the tool which, then form the base plan for your forthcoming mining.

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