1. Compile Research
The cheapest way to increase the value of your mining claims is to gather research material on your specific property or the nearby mines and district. Many states have a Bureau of Mining or State Geological Survey that can help you with this. Nevada has one of the best. The Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology – associated with the University of Nevada, Reno has put many of their district files online here: http://www.nbmg.unr.edu/Collections/MiningDistricts/MiningDistricts.html
Also, you can call the state geological surveys and they will likely send you information on your area (if you ask nicely). Recently, I asked for some information on the beryl gemstone areas in western Utah and a geologist at the Utah Geological Survey sent me about 10 reports that saved me hours of time doing research. Utah has one of the best Geological Surveys and they are very nice too!
Another source of materials is junior mining companies that are active in your district. If they are public companies they most likely have a technical report available on their website or online. If the company is listed on the Canadian exchanges, their reports are available on the SEDAR system here: https://www.sedar.com/homepage_en.htm
Arizona is another state with an excellent geological survey. Affiliated with the University of Arizona they make all sorts of geological reports available online. The U of A is one of the best geological departments in the world and has studied nearly every mining district in Arizona. Almost every major mining district in Arizona has multiple, detailed, professional quality reports. Here is the link to the Arizona Geological Survey document repository: http://repository.azgs.az.gov/
Several of my properties have had Master’s or Phd theses written about them. These can save a future operator thousands of dollars and months – or years of time. Finding them creates lots of value.
2. Take Better Pictures
Mineral exploration is very visual and good pictures are the best way to promote or sell a mine. I am guilty of not taking enough pictures when I am out in the field. No matter how many I take – I always wish I took more.
Learn about how to take a good prospecting photo. The best light for outdoor photographs is either early in the morning – just after sunrise – or late in the day just before sunset.
Make sure to photograph the vein material and all the workings – from multiple angles. Keep a notebook so that you don’t forget what the photo is. Get closeup pictures of the rocks. Photograph anything with lots of color – especially blues, greens, and reds.
Get some larger pictures of the landscape – maybe from a hilltop or mountaintop. Sometimes these are the pictures that sell the mine – especially for hobbiest mines.
3. Rock Sampling and Assays
Take a sample of the material you think will have good metal values. If you are exploring for gold – take a sample of the in-place vein. You can also sample dumps, tailings, ore piles and float. In-place veins are the best material because they represent what is actually in the ground – unmined. However, usually old mines will have a small pile of high grade ore near the shaft or adit. Old-timers left these piles here on purpose for testing and to help sell the mine – usually these have good value.
Take good pictures of these samples and then send in to an assay lab. My two favorite assay labs are ALS Global and SGS. Both of these are large laboratories that are widely used (and accepted) by the mining industry. I will have another blog post about assay labs and the pros and cons of various labs. But in general, you should stay with the big labs and the standard tests. When in doubt – just do a gold / silver fire assay and/or 33 element ICP to get the other metals of interest.
If you get good results this will go a long way to generate interest in your prospect. What are good results? 1 ppm (parts per million=gram per metric tonne) for low grade gold or 31 ppm (1 oz/ton) for high grade veins.
4. Add Claims and Increase the Size of Your Property
One of the most straight forward ways to increase the value of a property is to add claims. Staking several claims at once lowers your cost per claim and could increase your profit margins. Also, very few junior mining companies are interested in single claim properties. About 10-20 claims (200-400 acres) is the minimum size that junior mining companies are interested in. Junior mining companies are the best buyers because they have more money and are looking for new projects to increase the value of their stock. Usually these companies are listed on the OTC markets in the US or the TSX exchange in Canada (https://www.tmx.com/).
Recently, I had a customer add 30 claims to a project I sold him in Nevada and he was able to raise the price and get interest from a wide variety of junior miners. He could end up doing very well by just increasing the claim size.
5. Soil Sampling
Most prospectors are 100% focused on deposits with exposed bedrock, but the best of these deposits have already been found and there is greater opportunity finding deposits under soil or gravel cover. 50% of Nevada is under alluvial cover. However, most of Nevada’s operating mines are in areas of exposed rock. Over 200 million ounces of gold has been produced in Nevada in exposed settings and it is estimated that there is another 200 million ounce of gold (or more) under alluvial cover. This is one of the greatest mining opportunities of the 21st Century.
Learning how to explore under cover will separate you from the pack of amatuers and wannabees.
Many types of large deposits (copper porphyries) are almost certainly under cover or they would have been discovered by now. Recent discoveries of deep deposits in Arizona (Resolution Copper and Taylor Zinc) have been massive and generated vast amounts of wealth.
Soil sampling is one of the best methods for finding deposits under cover. Large metal deposits will leave a surface footprint of pathfinder elements such as arsenic or even a very low grade same-metal anomaly.
SGS – the assay laboratory I mentioned above – developed a test known as the Mobile Metal Ion (MMI) test that finds these residual geochemical footprints. Known as “deep seeing” geochemistry, the MMI test uses a weak leach that only samples metal ions that were brought to the surface from capillary action and evaporation. Analyzing the patterns in these metallic ions (copper, gold, moly, lead, etc) can show you where buried deposits are likely to be located.
However, even using conventional soil tests (4 acid leach or Aqua Regia) and looking for pathfinder elements is likely to be successful.
Combine the soil test with geophysics, mapping and other methods and you are on your way to a discovery that a big mining company will pay you for.
6. Geological Mapping
Geophysics such as mag surveys, induced polarization (IP) surveys, ground penetrating radar, or seismic.
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