Getting Gold: a practical treatise for prospectors, miners and students eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 155 pages of information about Getting Gold.

We will now assume that our miners have found their lode payable, and have some hundreds of tons of good gold-bearing stone in sight or at the surface.  They must next provide a reducing plant.  Of means for crushing or triturating quartz there is no lack, and every year gives us fresh inventions for the purpose, each one better than that which preceded it, according to its inventor.  Most practical men, however, prefer to continue the use of the stamper battery, which is virtually a pestle and mortar on a large scale.  Why we adhere to this form of pulverising machine is that, though somewhat wasteful of power, it is easily understood, its wearing parts are cheaply and expeditiously replaced, and it is so strong that even the most perversely stupid workman cannot easily break it or put it out of order.

The stone, being pounded into sand of such degree of fineness as the gold requires, passes through a perforated iron plate called a “grating,” or “screen,” on to an inclined surface of copper plates faced with mercury, having small troughs, or “riffles,” containing mercury, placed at certain distances apart.

The crushed quartz is carried over these copper “tables,” as they are termed, thence over the blanket tables—­that is, inclined planes covered with coarse serge, blankets, or other flocculent material—­so that the heavy particles may be caught in the hairs, or is passed over vanners or concentrating machines.  The resulting “concentrates” are washed off from time to time and reserved for secondary treatment.

To begin with, they are roasted to get rid of the sulphur, arsenic, etc., which would interfere with the amalgamation or lixiviation, and then either ground to impalpable fineness in one of the many triturating pans with mercury, or treated by chlorine or potassium cyanide.

If, however, we are merely amalgamating, then at stated periods the battery and pans are cleaned out, the amalgam rubbed or scraped from the copper plates and raised from the troughs and riffles.  It is then squeezed through chamois leather, or good calico will do as well, and retorted in a large iron retort, the nozzle of which is kept in water so as to convert the mercury vapour again to the metallic form.  The result is a spongy cake of gold, which is either sold as “retorted” gold or smelted into bars.

The other and more scientific methods of extracting the precious metal from its matrices, such as lixiviation or leaching, by means of solvents (chlorine, cyanogen, hyposulphite of soda, etc.), will be more fully described later on.

CHAPTER II

GOLD PROSPECTING—­ALLUVIAL AND GENERAL

It is purposed in this chapter to deal specially with the operation of searching for valuable mineral by individuals or small working parties.

It is well known that much disappointment and loss accrue through lack of knowledge by prospectors, who with all their enterprise and energy are often very ignorant, not only of the probable locality, mode of occurrence, and widely differing appearance of the various valuable minerals, but also of the best means of locating and testing the ores when found.  It is for the information of such as these that this chapter is mainly intended, not for scientists or miners of large experience.

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Getting Gold: a practical treatise for prospectors, miners and students from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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