Lode gold or hard rock gold refers to gold that is found in veins and is recovered using hard rock mining methods. The gold is still locked into its original host rock. Lode gold deposits are much harder to locate than placer deposits and instead of “colors per yard” the prospector becomes concerned with “ounces (or grams) per ton”. Often this done with a fire assay as not all gold veins have large coarse gold in then. In fact, often a gold vein only has sparse gold.
In the picture here, you see some very rich lode gold left in tailings by old timers who “hand cobbled” the ore. What this means is they looked at the ore, did not see any gold in it, or it did not feel heavy enough, and they discarded it. A modern metal detector will find these types of pieces but they are rare. If you want to learn how to prospect for lode gold this article is from a respected member of the gold mining community.
You can hunt old mine talings successfully. Its not as easy as placer gold prospecting but you can enjoy the hunt. I recommend the following articles, Prospecting Mine Tailings and Pocket Gold Prospecting. Remember, research, ask questions and make the best possible decisions. This and your boots on the ground are the real keys to prospecting lode gold. Remember, stay out of old mines. Its risky business at best.
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