What exactly is gold ore? Have you ever purchased what looked like a huge piece of gold, possibly on eBay, marketed as rich gold ore? Did you assume you were buying a large piece of solid gold, or maybe a chunk of rock filled with quartz veins?
Many people have little to no clue what gold ore actually is, and are quite often overpaying for something of very little value. It happens all the time online, commonly on auction sites like eBay. Unscrupulous sellers are marketing nearly worthless rock as gold ore, and are often selling it for ridiculously high prices, compared to its nearly worthless mineral value. To help you avoid these scammers, lets talk a bit about what gold ore actually is, and what it is worth.
First, lets look at the textbook definition of ore. Ore is defined as “a naturally occurring mineral containing a valuable constituent (as metal) for which it is mined and worked”. In other word, ore is the most basic raw form of a mineral, which requires additional processing for the valuable minerals (gold) to be removed. A single piece of gold ore generally has very little actual gold content. Although a very rich ore may have some visible gold present, the vast majority do not actually have any visible gold present, and only crushing and processing of the ore will release the gold within to host material.
For example, lets say that a mine was processing ore valued at 1 troy ounce of gold per ton. This would generally be considered a very high-grade ore, worth mining in most cases. Using this hypothetical value of 1 ozt./ton, each pound of ore would contain approximately 0.0005 ounces of gold. Now let’s assume that gold is valued at $1500 per ounce. That would make the gold in a one pound ore sample worth approximately 75 cents, and this is assuming that the ore is extremely rich. Many mines can run profitably on much lower grade ores, which might easily reduce the average value of ore down to 25 cents or less per pound.
Another thing to consider, is that the gold within many ores is microscopic particles, which require advanced methods to extract, such as through cyanide leaching. Extracting gold from this type of ore is feasible for multi-million dollar mining companies, but almost impossible for the average person to do. Also consider that gold concentrations in ore is never consistent, often occurring in pockets rather than consistently throughout. So a mine that produces some high-grade ore will also process tons of ore with almost no value. To the naked eye, these ores may look exactly the same.
Click here to see genuine gold in quartz specimens
The purpose of this article is to help folks have a better understanding of what gold ores are, and what their true value actually is. Mines can make money processing ore on a large scale, but we are talking about millions and millions of tons. Individually, the average chunk of ore has very little to no mineral value. Buying a 5 pound piece of ore on eBay is only going to be worth a dollar or two in the BEST CASE scenario, but most likely it is worth almost nothing. Looking at some of the so-called “ore” marketed on eBay, I also suspect that they aren’t even real gold ore samples, but rather they are just average rocks with mica, chalcopyrite, and other shiny minerals, specifically marketed to deceive the buyer into thinking that the “shiny stuff” is gold. These are essentially worthless, yet people are sometimes paying over $100 for chunks of this “gold ore“.
Now keep in mind, this is not to say that there isn’t a collectable value to real gold ore. No doubt there are many mineral collectors who enjoy collecting ore specimens and are willing to pay a premium for them, specifically from famous gold mines that are well know. The key thing to understand is that the value is more as a collectable mineral sample, rather than for the gold value itself. If you are buying a rock on eBay assuming that you can crush it up and make money, I would almost guarantee you will be disappointed.