I would guess that 5% of the gold prospectors and miners find around 95% of the gold.
While most guys have mining equipment collecting dust in their garage, there are a select group of guys that seem to consistently find gold using a variety of methods.
Only a few of these guys are full-time miners, but some of them are able to find enough gold to mine gold for a living, at least for part of the year. I have noticed some similarities between this group of guys. Here are a few things most of them have in common, in no particular order:
They Use Quality Equipment
I have noticed that most successful gold miners use good quality equipment. They are no constantly trying to get worn-out, lousy equipment working all the time. They invest upfront on quality gear so they can get down to the business of finding gold.
The also use higher-end gear. Not necessarily the most expensive, but definitely not the cheapest. Whether this is a well-built gold dredge or a quality Minelab metal detector, they spend some money upfront to ensure they have good gear.
They Travel with the Weather
In the U.S., it is hard to mine year-round in the same area. In the north, harsh winters limit the mining season to just a few months in some areas like Alaska, and as much as 6 months in some of the Rocky Mountain states, but eventually the snow arrives and itís hard to do much mining.
In the Southwest, it is too darn hot in the summer to do much serious mining. In states like Arizona
and New Mexico
, mining is best during the winter months.
Lots of professional miners and prospectors travel with the weather. They spend the summer months up north, and the winters are spent down in Arizona. This allows them to spend maximum time out in the field, rather than sitting around the house waiting for the weather to get better.
They Hit the Gold-Bearing Areas
This should go without saying, but successful gold miners spend their time mining in places where there is gold to be found. They arenít trying to find a bunch of gold in places where it has never been found before. They dedicate time searching the historic gold districts where millions of ounces of gold have already been found.
They Living Modestly in Mining Camp
Most good mining areas are out away from town. Lots of serious miners spend a lot of time in remoting mining camps so they will be close to the gold. They donít spend a lot of time and money driving into remote gold country, they get there and they set up a camp.
Pro Miners vs. Pro Prospectors
There is a difference between mining and prospecting. Lots of guys, some of them who find pounds of gold per years, are always prospecting. They like to move around and explore new locations in search of gold.
Miners find a rich gold deposit and mine it thoroughly. They might spend many years working the same area if it continues to produce gold. This can be more economical because they donít need to constantly be on the search for new gold deposits.
One way isnít necessarily better than the other. Itís all about finding the gold! I know prospectors who would make lousy miners because they get bored of going to the same place all the time and they are always on the move. They still find a lot of gold this way.
The benefit of professional mining is the potential to scale up your operation. Some well-established mines are able to produce hundreds or even thousands of ounces of gold, something that a small-scale prospector is highly unlikely to find.