The RP 17 placer mining claim covers 20 acres on federal land managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The claim is located in the Ellsworth District near Salome, Arizona in La Paz County.
The claim has 3,600 feet of washes and vein workings at the northwest end of the claim. The hardrock works are stained with iron-oxide and have multiple pits and trenches to explore.
Initial testing of the area included dry washing and some metal detecting – both were successful (see photos).
The area is highly prospective for both placer gold and small high grade gold veins.
I was originally focused on the hardrock veins in this District and staked some of the historical mines. The entire area is full of narrow high grade gold veins that have eroded into the washes – ideal for a small placer operation.
The Ellsworth District has several high-quality mining and geological reports available – including a Master’s Thesis on the Granite Wash Mountains, geological reports on the mines, assays, and production records. There is also a detailed professional geological map available.
One historical report (King, 1935) documented gold veins running 11 ounces per ton.
Location and Access: From Phoenix, Arizona get on I-10 West and drive for 53 miles. Take Exit 81 for Salome Rd. from I-10 West. Drive on Salome Road to Hall St. for 24 miles. Go west (left) on Hall St. / Hall Ave. for 2.7 miles until you get to dirt roads. Take left fork of dirt road and drive 1.1 miles to the claim.
GPS Coordinates: Lat: 33.784685° Long: -113.686938° (Access Roads Intersection).
Mining and Exploration Potential: The RP 17 placer gold claim has the potential for placer gold at bedrock under the washes, black sand accumulations, and in caliche.
There are 3,600 linear feet of washes in two main drainages running north-south. The washes have meandered (changed course) over the years of accumulation and there is also potential for paleo-placer bodies on the sides of the washes and in the foothills.
Special attention should be given to the iron-oxide/ altered working in the NW part of the claim (see Google Earth image)
The hillsides have potential for elluvial gold sometimes called short-haul gold or hillside gold. This is gold freshly eroded from in-place veins and float and working its way down the hillside.
This area of Arizona is world-famous for nugget hunting and metal detecting. This is a fairly obscure location and once you get off the main roads is very isolated.
Recent rains have increased the gold content of the washes and local detectorists are reporting excellent results even in areas that have previously been detected.
Once you are out in the area and exploring – you could also find some hardrock veins that might be worth mining. Although this claim does not cover hardrock veins – you could easily file a lode claim (I can help you do this).
This claim is ideal for a small operator or hobbyist. Water could be brought into the site from local contractors and recirculated. Dry washing has also been successful. And metal detecting and ‘scraping’ then detecting has also been successful in this area of Arizona.
There is also copper minerals found in the area such as chrysocolla, azurite and turquoise – some lapidary or gem grade.
Ellsworth Mining District – The Ellsworth Mining District situated within the larger Granite Wash Mountains area was first discovered in the 1860’s and began production in the 1880’s. The district had underground mines, placer gold, and open pit mines.
Some of the biggest early producing mines in the District were the Ellsworth, Bonanza, Golden Eagle, Socorro, San Marcos, Hercules, and Hidden Treasure.
Between 1891 and 1929 there was $2.5 million in recorded production (at gold prices of $20 per ounce).
The District became more active when the railroad was completed in 1900.
The largest copper mine in the area was the Yuma Mine which has grades of 2.3% copper. The Desert Queen and True Blue mines produced several thousand tons of mostly gold at grades of 0.4 to 0.6 ounces per ton.
The True Blue Mine was discovered by John Ramsey in 1931 after his car got stuck on the side of the road. Rich telluride ores were discovered in the district which ran 10 opt gold and more.
There were dozens of small mining operations in the 1930’s and 40’s with shafts, adits and workings covering the District. Tungsten was also produced commercially during WWII.
After a flurry of activity in the 1930’s and 40’s the District was dormant until the 1970’s when Tenneco and Bear Creek conducted some limited drill programs for copper in the vicinity of the Yuma Mine.
Some exploration was conducted in the 1980’s mostly centered on the Yuma Mine. There was also a gem quality azurite and malachite mine located in the District.
Regional Geology: The RP 17 placer claim is located within the Basin and Range physiographic province. The Basin and Range province covers the southern and western part of Arizona and consists of narrow NE trending mountain ranges between flat, arid valleys and basins.
The RP 17 claim is located in the Granite Wash Mountains which lie on the intersection of a northeast and north-northwest regional trend.
Like most of the mountain ranges of western Arizona, the Granite Wash Mountains consist of a complex series of stacked, low-angle fault slices of varied rocks units. In general, the rocks are regionally metamorphosed sediments that were intruded by granitic rocks during the Cretaceous.
Local Geology: The RP 17 claim is located on the boundary of a Jurassic volcanic rocks (rhyolitic tuffs) and metasediments (gneiss). There is a quartz monzonite intrusive a quarter-mile to the east which is the likely source of the mineralization in the District. The southern part of the claim is in the rhyolitic tuffs and conglomerate and the northern part of the claim is in the metasediments.
The mineralized conglomerate, sediments to the west is cut by the washes which are the likely source of the placer gold. The contact areas are also productive for gold and some of the narrow high-grade veins are in the metasediments.
There are diabase intrusions found throughout the District that seem to be associated with the mineralization. One theory is that the diabase intrusions have shattered the surrounding rocks opening permeable channels which extend all around the dikes. There may also be a geochemical factor in that the higher iron content at the diabase contact may allow gold in solution to precipitate.
There are four main types of hardrock gold deposits in this District: 1) replacement bodies in the carbonates; 2) quartz veins in the fissures and faults; 3) disseminated gold in the quartz monzonite intrusive; and 4) copper-gold skarn metamorphic deposits.
The replacement bodies are in highly altered limestone, fractured quartzite and schist along low angle shear zones. The shear zones are located at the contacts between major rock units. Much of the prospective shears are concealed beneath pediment gravels.
The replacement zones in the limestones in the low angle shears offer the best chances for a bulk tonnage deposit.
The mineralization in the Ellsworth District is strongly associated with calcite. Prior operators would sort ore on the basis of calcite content and obtain grades of up to 100 ounces per ton.
Calcite gangue material is supposedly high in the tellurides. The tellurides are petzite, hessite, sylvanite, and altaite.
Finding the tellurides may take some effort – they may not look like gold bearing rocks on first inspection. However, the quartz vein material is plentiful and easier to locate.
We took one sample of quartz material on the dumps of a nearby hardrock vein and got 0.25% copper, 21 ppm silver, and 0.6 ppm gold.
Corn and Ahern in their 1989 report took samples nearby that ran 12 ppm gold and up to 69 ppm silver.
Gray, the operator of the main True Blue Mine in the 1940’s, shipped ore to the El Paso Smelter that assayed 18.3% copper and 6 opt silver.
The King Report in 1935 detailed the rich veins that had values of up to 11.6 opt gold – with sorted ores much higher.
Ciancanelli, E., ‘Structural Geology of the Western Edge of the Granite Wash Mountains, Yuma County, Arizona’, MS Thesis, University of Arizona, 1965.
Corn, R.M., ‘’Northwestern Granite Wash Mountains Prospect, La Paz County, Arizona’, Corn & Ahern Private Report, 1989.
King, C., ‘The Blue Group of Mining Claims, Yuma County, Arizona’, Private Report for Gorham & Zuver, 1935.
Thompson, J.R., ‘Mineral Resources of the Harquahala Mountains Wilderness Study Area, La Paz and Maricopa Counties, Arizona’, U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1701, 1988.
Arizona is consistently ranked as one of the top mining jurisdictions in the world for being mining-friendly and continuing to produce major discoveries. Arizona is the largest metal mining state in the U.S. and home to many world class copper mines including Morenci, Bagdad, Sierrita, Ray, and Resolution. Arizona also has numerous gold mines and some of the biggest silver-lead-zinc discoveries (Taylor Mine). Arizona is world famous for turquoise and other semi-precious stones and lapidary materials – often found near copper mining areas. Arizona is 38% owned by the federal government and most of this land is available for claim staking. This means some of the best mining ground in the world is open to small prospectors – a very unique situation. There are many mining companies active in Arizona and therefore, multiple potential buyers for any discovery you make. Canadian based junior exploration companies are particularly active in Arizona.
Why Buy a Claim?
Buying a claim is a great way to get started in mining and prospecting. Buying a claim that is professionally staked reduces your upfront work and the risk of making a mistake on your paperwork or in the field. Our claims are in areas with historical mining activity and most have numerous pits, shafts, and adits to explore. Finding these claims takes lots of research that is already done for you. The best place to find gold is where people have already found it!
I have been working in exploration in the southwestern United States and Alaska for 19 years. I have co-founded four junior mining companies and managed numerous drilling and exploration projects. I have worked with large and small mining companies and know what types of projects they are looking for that can be advanced by small prospectors. I have also worked on small hardrock production projects. I usually try to find claims that have known high grade veins that can be produced and that also have some exploration upside. We stand by our claims and fix any problems that come up. We can also help you with your annual filings. All our claims have a BLM serial number and can be found on the U.S. BLM MLRS website database. We hire the same professional claim staking companies that the large mining companies hire and all the claims have professionally drafted and accurate maps.
How is ownership of the claim transferred?
Ownership of mining claims is transferred with a Quit Claim Deed which we prepare. We pay all claim transfer fees and file the claim transfer paperwork with the BLM and La Paz County. The BLM takes about 2-3 weeks to process the claim transfer (Quit Claim) and register the claim in your name. The La Paz County Recorder usually take 1-2 weeks to return the recorded Quit Claim Deed. Once the transfer is complete we will send you all the original documents including the file stamped Quit Claim Deed, the original location notices and claim maps.
How Much are the Annual Claim Fees?
The BLM charges a $165 per claim annual maintenance fee which is due on September 1st each year. The BLM fees can be paid online through their claim management portal. La Paz County requires that a Notice of Intent to Hold form is filed the first year by Nov 1st along with payment of the recording fee of $30.
If you own less than 10 mining claims you can qualify for a waiver of the annual maintenance fee by filing a Small Miner’s Waiver. However, the Small Miner’s Waiver requires that you perform $100 in labor or improvements on the claim each year.
Annual claim maintenance fees for the 2023-24 assessment year have been paid.
International buyers must either have dual US citizenship and US address or have a US entity or company to own the claim.
I accept credit and debit cards, cashier’s check, and wire for payments.