Thursday, September 12, 2019

Gold and Diamond Indicator Minerals Discovered in Wyoming's Seminoe Mountains

The Bradly Peak Hilton in the Seminoe Mountains, Wyoming
I met Charlie and Donna Kortes at my front door step of my tent on Bradley Peak in the Seminoe Mountains greenstone belt in Wyoming. I was awakened by a knock at my door (of my tent). Usually, people don't find me in the middle of nowhere, and the only one's who ever knock before were coyotes wanting to share some songs around the campfire.

So, I unzipped my door, and there were two people standing there I had never seen before. They introduced themselves as Charlie and Donna Kortes - and yes, much of the state of Wyoming in this region has place names using their namesake, such as the Kortes Dam on the North Platte River, or Charlie's prospect in the Seminoe Mountains. We, these two lovely people were ranchers and rock hounds - a great combination, and they wanted me out of my sleeping bag so they could first show me the Sunday Morning mine (often referred to as the Sunday Morning prospect). We went to the mine adit (entrance) and Charlie used bailing wire to put two ladders together to lower me down into the workings. For some reason, the old miners who dug this tunnel, went straight in for a few yards and then decided to continue the tunnel about 10 to 12 feet lower, requiring the use of a ladder. After that, he sent me in by myself. My thoughts included - did he know that there was something dangerous in here? Or was he going to steal my prized field office and leave me here to die? Actually, it was neither, he was just being very neighborly and gave me an opportunity to see this mine. It didn't have much of anything in it, other than a milky quartz vein with some cuprite - and in two samples, I believe I got most of the ore body.

Massive red cuprite with green malachite and black tenorite, Sunday
Morning prospect, Seminoe Mountains
Charlie and Donna next wanted to show me a gold deposit in the valley to the north of the Seminoe Mountains near the North Platte River. In this area, they claimed was nothing more than dirt and sagebrush with lots of gold - so they proceeded to show me an extensive, previously unknown, dry gold placer, which I later wrote about in my Gold Book, and called it the Kortes placer in honor of my two new friends. 

We left Bradley Peak and drove under a power line (42°11'54"N; 106°52'43"W) built into an old alluvial surface that originated from the adjacent Seminoe Mountains. We dug out some dirt and took it to the bank of the North Platte River and panned tiny gold flakes out of the dirt. It didn't matter where we dug in this old alluvial fan, it had gold! My gold pan also retained some tiny, purple, pyrope garnets!

Red cuprite in milky quartz from Sunday Morning prospect
I was interested in the gold as well as the new found garnets. Over the years, I had been working not only in gold, but also in diamonds. And sometime earlier, I had met a contact from Russia who had access to an electron microprobe research facility in Russia that could be used to test chemistry (the Wyoming Geological Survey had such a tiny budget, we couldn't afford to do this ourselves). So I gave my Russian colleague the garnets and $20 from my pocket, and weeks later received news that all of the garnets were G10 pyropes. G10 pyropes have the same chemistry as pyrope garnets found as diamond inclusions, and thus likely came from the diamond-stability field where the earth makes diamonds.

Gold in milky quartz (circled) from the Penn mines. A rule of thumb - whenever you see a hand specimen like these with
 visible gold, they will assay more than 1.0 ounce per tonne.
Some years later, I was able to get funding for a mapping project in the Seminoes and did additional tests on other garnets I collected from the Kortes placer. Every garnet tested as G10. This is unheard of and suggests there is one heck of a rich diamond deposit in this region. Typically, garnets collected from diamond-bearing kimberlites contain many G9 garnets derived from too shallow depth for diamond, and lesser G10 garnets. But never nothing but G10s. But I suspect this may have been a result of selective sampling, but in my opinion, the Wyoming Geological Survey in Laramie should wake up and conduct research on this dry placer and determine where the gold and garnets are coming from and how extensive is this placer?

Outcrop of folded banded iron formation near
the Sunday morning prospect.
As rock hounds, we should plan to spend time in the area looking for garnets in anthills. When I did a cursory survey of the area, I couldn't find any anthills. And need to search for diamonds, gold, jade, and banded iron formation.

After searching the area, we found a very nice, circular, depression in the Seminoe Mountains on the east side of the North Platte River. This depression was designated as the Seminoe Mountains cryptovolcanic anomaly (42°9'42"N; 106°52'22"W), and was later drilled by a diamond exploration company. The company later told me that they were puzzled by the anomaly as it appeared as a piston-like graben filled with soil, that bottomed out in granite (Howard Coopersmith, personal communication).

Well, then there is the Bradley Peak gold deposit. Right at the base of Bradley Peak are some old gold mines, known as the Penn mines. These all have small quartz veins with visible gold! In fact, in 1981, I accidentally started a gold rush to the area after finding gold in quartz and in one sample of quartz cutting banded iron formation. After mentioning it to a reporter, the article showed up in the newspaper an soon the Seminoe Mountains were staked by hundreds of mining claims! 

In the area of the Penn mines, some years ago, Dr. Terry Klein of the US Geological Survey identified a large, circular, propylitic alteration zone that also surrounds the gold-bearing veins at the Penn mines. This area is mostly in metamorphosed basalt and includes some banded iron formation, and could potentially host a large disseminated gold deposit with high-grade veins.

Polished banded iron formation sample from Seminoe Mountains.
Spinifex-textured komatiite, Seminoe Mountains, Wyoming.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Gold, Copper, Zinc, Silver found on the Road in Arizona

One day it was warm, the next it was
freezing - isn't Wyoming great!
Just returned from gold consulting projects in Wyoming and California. Really enjoyed my time in Wyoming searching for an offset on a gold deposit I had mapped and investigated many years ago. Typical of Wyoming, there are more cows than people with the country side wide open to a non-stop wind. When I got there in early October, one day it was warm - the next I had to dress like an Eskimo. I sometimes forget how much I love geology and Wyoming, and if it wasn't for my wife Sharon kicking me out of the house periodically, I would probably not get out in the hills. I do have a reputation of finding mineral deposits - something I'm proud of - and this ability I feel is the result of my curiosity to see what is on the other side of the hill and  an optimistic attitude when it comes to searching for mineral deposits.

Exploring the 2 million ounce+ gold-copper deposit
at the Copper King mine, Silver Crown district near
Cheyenne, Wyoming in 2012. This area has very
good gold potential along with possible nearby
diamond deposits.
I love doing geological work, but I have a serious problem with bureaucrats. Don't like them and you can't make me like them. Never could find any use for people who are unproductive and live only to cause problems for those who like to work.

Every time I think of politicians - I laugh (or cry). From the President to the city manager: they are all in somebody's pockets and bow to Chinese and Arab investors - makes one wonder if Darwin was right. Personally, I think Darwin had it all wrong. If he were right, how could those who are least productive in society run our government. Something is wrong with this scenario. Isn't it time we required all persons running for office to have had a least one job - other than a pimp, used car salesman, alien (or woman, etc), and should not be allowed to accept a Noble Peace Prize for doing nothing. If you have the time, email the Noble Prize committee and let them know that you thought they were playing a joke on us by giving Gore and Obama a prize for ...  What was it they did?

If automated lie detectors (ALD) were attached to our TV sets to detect lies by politicians, our TVs would fry every time a president made a speech, or the president's press secretary briefed us on another scandal like Benghazi or Fast & Furious. I didn't like Bush and I don't like Obama. When Obama leaves office, he will have a new skill as a professional golfer and will have left our country so far in debt that we may never recover. If any politician ever told the truth, we should declare a national holiday.
Gold King mine in California in 2012. This was a nifty gold mine.

While Obama was out golfing, I was talking to a friend (a golfer) who noted that golfing takes an entire day. Wow,  how many working days does 100 equal? If we assume a 5 day work week, Obama spent 5 months of his presidency golfing (and who knows how much more time on vacation). This means, 12% of his presidency has been devoted to golfing while the rest of us are losing savings, homes and being  strangled by obamacare. Think obamacare is good? Well how come every friend of obama has received a waiver along with every congressman or senator. Oh I know, they just want to put us before their needs. So, if obamacare is so good how come nancy pelosi and harry reid are not signing up for this fabulous obamacare? We should all march on Washington and require all of these political scumbags to sign on to obamacare.

Remember Al Gore (or cousin Al as we called him in Laramie) talk about Global Warming, I wished I could have attached that ALD to his ear lobes and watched the TV melt at the Cowboy Bar. Here's a question? What is longer than Nancy Pelosi's nose? That's easy - Harry Reid's nose! Hey, I'm no fan of Bush either, other than I miss all of the Bushisms.

Sign displayed in Tombstone, AZ
When politicians talk about dwindling natural resources, the ALD goes into overtime. These people are just silver-tongue used car salesmen  with little intellect and silver tongues. Their brains are in their mouths. None of them have the foggiest idea of what natural resources are, other than a way to tax people, or to give away our resources to foreign agents and governments for money under the table.

Let's look at our natural resources. Not so long ago, we were running out of oil. But as soon as geologists have money in their pockets, plenty of natural resources are found. It's because we have barely touched our natural resources in the US let alone the world. Take a look at oil and gas - we needed some, so geologists went out and found new deposits. We now have enough to keep us occupied for centuries without having to import anything from the Saudis. So why do we still have to  import? Because government leaders (remember those used car salesmen?) are getting rich by kowtowing to the Saudis at our expense.

COPPER MINE on Interstate - 60
How about copper? Well, every time we turn our backs, someone finds another major copper deposit in Arizona. Thought they were all found? No way! Not even close. I liked telling my students that for every deposit found on the surface, there are likely 20 blind deposits hidden at depth from our view. But who knows, this could be 100 or even a 1,000. All we need is the incentive to search for these not so easy to find deposits. Just last year, my wife and I visited the Resolution copper mine on the edge of the town of Superior Arizona. This is a giant copper-molybdenum with by-product gold and silver deposit.
Standing on the Resolution mine dump looking
at I-60 and all of the rare and unique land.
Now get this: the Superior district in Arizona had silver deposits and a town site known as Superior was developed. This town is only 25 to 30 miles east of the Phoenix valley and sits right along I-60. The town first became known for its silver and especially, copper. Copper was found here in 1874. The Silver Queen mine produced some ore, and years later, this mine was renamed the Magma mine as it began to produce large amounts of copper.  But it (and nearby mines) ran out of ore some time ago, and the town started to turn into a ghost town until someone decided to drill a little deeper to see if anyone missed anything of value. How come they didn't try this sooner? Its because most people are pessimistic. Anyway, someone convinced a CEO somewhere to try drilling a little deeper under the historical Copper Queen/Magma mine and low and behold, they found another ore deposit that has a minimum of 1.6 billion tons of copper-molybdenum-silver-gold ore. This mine is so close to I-60, that you can stand near its head frame and hit the interstate with a rock! But it didn't take long. This long abandoned area was soon to be rare and valuable land that needed to be protected to be sure there were no jobs created. It didn't quite work (almost) and now the mine is being developed (as I write) and will result in several hundred jobs that didn't exist before.

Not too long ago, someone found a giant of a giant copper deposit in Bristol Bay, Alaska. It so big, that if it were ever mined, we could provide electric lighting for the entire solar system. But instead, it will likely be made into wilderness now that it's been discovered. Why does our government keep doing this to us?  What are they saving all of these mineral deposits for? Personally, I think we should send all of our politicians on a luxury liner to China or Saudi Arabia, and fill it completed from top to bottom with copper and see how well it will float.

How big is it? Well, its every bit as big as the Bingham mine in Utah (and then some). In 2008, it was estimated (based on limited drilling) that this deposit has 31 million ounces of gold (the great Homestake mine produced only 40 million ounces over a span of a hundred years - and it was just a gold deposit with a little silver). It also has a minimum of 265 million pounds of molybdenum (that stuff that is necessary for making steel) and a minimum of 18.8 billion pounds of copper!  That is 18,800,000,000 pounds. Now this does not include all of the by-product metals (silver, rhenium, palladium, zinc).

We were on our way to visit the United Verde and United Verde Extension Mines in the town of Jerome right adjacent to Highway 89A. This deposit was all mined out and closed in 1953. Or was it? Well, ask anyone - it is all mined out!  Well, not really.

During its heyday, it produced more than 33 million tons of ore from the open pit operation (see below) and more than 81 miles (>427,000 feet) of tunnels and shafts. The ore would be worth more than $14.8 billion at 2012 prices for copper, gold, silver and zinc. And of course, the old miners found everything! Or did they?

United Verde mine - all mined out (?) at Jerome, Arizona.
During mining prior to 1953, some 'blind' deposits were found at depth. One, was the United Verde Extension mine. A group of miners explored for years looking for hidden treasure. When they were ready to shut down due to bankruptcy, they found a very rich deposit hidden at depth.

Bisbee mine - so close to highway 80, you can
see the bottom of the open pit as you drive by
So how many more blind deposit are to be found here? My guess would be a few dozen. If you look at Google Earth (search for Jerome, AZ) you will see a 14-mile long gossan along the western edge of town that runs right through the United Verde open pit mine. Gossans are sort of rusty guides to ore deposits. The United Verde miners looked for only the good ore within the mine. In doing so, they decided not to mine any more zinc than necessary (zinc was not worth much in the old days) and thus left behind all of the low grade ore (sitting in place unmined). This low-grade, at today's prices, is likely very valuable (imagine that, a mined out mine with 2 to 3 times as much ore left behind as was mined).  One resource estimate suggests 115 million tons of low-grade massive sulfide ore and 38 million tons of mineralized black schist was left behind that contains economic grades of copper, zinc, gold and silver. This low grade ore was reported to have at least 400,000 ounces of gold. Some suggest that the gold content may be as high as one million ounces! And what lies beneath?

Then there is Bisbee. Highway 80 runs so close to the Lavendar Open Pit mine, if you are not careful, you could actually drive into the old mine.

In an upcoming blog, I will tell you about hundreds of diamond pipes found along the interstate and US highways, giant opal deposits next to highways, gem labradorite found in road bed material and more.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Diamonds, Diamonds, Diamonds, Everywhere There Are Diamonds

One man's quartz is another man's diamonds.
There was a prospector who called me from the field and wanted to know what he should do with all of the diamonds he had found. I was impressed: "How many did you find?" I asked. 

"There are thousands all over the hill side!" He responded.

Now I knew something was not quite right. I asked him, "how are you verifying these diamonds?"

"I just scratch the windshield of my truck, and most of them leave a nice scratch".

I responded, "Can you see out of your window well enough to drive home?"

By the way, diamonds will scratch windshields, but since glass has a hardness of only 5.5 to 6 on the Moh's scale, many things will scratch your windshield including pyrite, feldspar, corundum and of course quartz. How do you think people get all of those pits you your windshield during sandstorms? 
Then there was the prospector who called and said that he had been diamond hunting for years and never found any diamonds. After talking awhile, he mentioned his method for diamond testing: "I simply put them on an anvil and hit them with a hammer!"

He mentioned he had picked up some octahedral crystals in the Colorado-Wyoming State Line district (where there are several known diamond deposits) but none were diamonds because they failed his test!

I then told him about the difference between hardness and mechanical brittleness and that all diamonds will break when struck with a hammer.

You could hear that sound of ... well, it sounded like muffled swearing in the background as he hung up.

Some fancy diamonds from the Argyle mine, Australia. How valuable are these? Well some of the extraordinary pink to red diamonds are nearly priceless and sell for as much as US$1 million/carat (or many thousands of times more than an equivalent weight of gold).
 Speaking of diamonds. Have you ever heard of the Ekati diamond mine in Canada? Most people are still unaware that Canada is now a giant in diamonds - just like South Africa. The have several diamond mines and just one of them, the Ekati, produces 3 million carats per year.

Friday, June 29, 2012

It's A Diamond, Errr A Gregory?

In South Africa, a ‘Gregory’ is a term applied to a blunder of major proportions. This is all due to James Gregory, a professor from Great Britain. In the mid-1860s, many diamonds were found along the Orange River in South Africa and Professor Gregory purportedly was hired in 1868 by a London diamond dealer to investigate the Orange River diamonds to determine the potential for the region to produce diamonds. After visiting the diamond fields, Gregory published a report in the Journal of Society of Arts, stating he had made a lengthy examination of the new diamond fields and concluded there was no potential for mining diamonds as the stones that had been found had either been ‘salted’ by locals attempting to increase the value of their farms, or had been transported to the Orange River by ostriches. Apparently Gregory never considered where the diamond-laden ostriches were finding their gems. So the story goes, that within a short time, the Orange River region (its placers and kimberlites) became one of the greatest diamond producing regions in the world and produced many of the greatest diamonds ever found on earth including the giant 3,006.75 carat Cullinan diamond.

Two beautiful diamonds from Murfreesboro, Arkansas. Note
the distrinct greasy luster of the raw diamonds (photo
courtesy of Glenn Worthington).
Unfortunately, Professor Gregory will not be the last pessimist. We’ve all known exploration geologists and company CEO’s who should also have namesakes attached to blunders with Gregory in the history books. Comments like … “if there was something of value, it would have already been found”, and “we only look in elephant country” deserve a Gregory awards. Yet these types of comments are made by apparently educated people in the exploration industry every day.  Prospectors on the other hand are optimistic - sometimes overly optimistic.  An example of this optimism led to an interesting event when I was a geologist at the Wyoming Geological Survey at the University of Wyoming. 

Green octahedral diamond - a common crystal habit, although
green diamonds are not common.
I had received a phone call from an individual who thought he had found a large diamond to the west of Cheyenne. According to an unnamed gemologist from Cheyenne, this crystal was pronounced to be diamond. But the gemologist suggested that before the prospector sold all of his belongings and purchased a mansion on the French Riviera that he should visit my office for a second opinion. By this time in my career, I had been developing a reputation as a diamond exploration geologist because of my research on kimberlites and lamproites. At the end of the phone call, I gave him directions to my office. It’s about one hour’s drive from Cheyenne, so I was surprised when he and his three family members came knocking at my door about 30 minutes later, apparently anxious to cash in their millions. 

The finder of the crystal introduced himself as ‘Jack’ and did not give a last name, and without further hesitation, opened a locked brief case chained to his wrist to show me the ‘Star of Cheyenne’. It was fist size, and about the same size as the famous Cullinan diamond. The Cullinan was by far the largest diamond found in history, and was a whopping 3,006 carats, and recovered at the Premier Mine in South Africa. It was priceless and ended up in the Crown Jewels of England. I had met Dr. Arnold Waters, Jr, a few years earlier in my office. Dr. Waters was the former Chief Geologist for DeBeers in South Africa and Arnold told me that when the Cullinan was found, it had a distinct cleaved surface where part of the diamond had been broken in two during its transport to the earth's surface in a kimberlite pipe (volcano). He indicated that the other half of the diamond could have been just a large if not larger than the Cullinan itself! Where it was - was anyone's guess. Did it break off somewhere at great depth and still sitting thousands of feet deep? Did it make it to the surface and was missed by the sorters and ended up in the crusher where it made many little diamonds? 
Geologist examining rock sample with hand lens
The gem in question was gingerly handed to me. As soon as I saw it, I knew what it was, but decided to let the family down slowly, so I made a show of it. First I showed them how to test specific gravity of a mineral by weighing the gem in water then in air. I determined the crystal to have a specific gravity of 2.7 - too light for diamond (diamond's specific gravity is 3.5, heavy enough that it would show up with garnets and black sands in a gold pan). I also tested its hardness by taking a diamond chip and easily cutting a deep notch in the crystal. This resulted in an up-roar and immediate protest from the family as they thought I was scratching their priceless diamond. 

“Hold on a second,” I exclaimed.  “If this were a diamond, I wouldn’t be able to scratch it with a diamond chip so easily, diamond has a Moh’s hardness of 10 and is the hardest known mineral in nature, and it is very difficult to scratch a diamond with another diamond”.  After I calmed them down and convinced them that all they had was an ordinary piece of rock crystal (transparent massive quartz), they left the office dejected and drove back to Cheyenne with visions of mansions and Porches fading.  And I thought this was over.

The next day, I was contacted by one of our other geologists - Ray Harris (RIP) - who stopped in my office to tell me he had just received a call from a person in Cheyenne who had a probable diamond that he wanted to have verified. The person on the phone explained that he had already talked to me, but he and his gemologist decided that another opinion was necessary. 

Ray went back to his office to await the Cheyenne family. I laughed to myself. Ray was a very good geologist, but he had a reputation as a klutz. He was famous for running into things, breaking things, and if anything could go wrong – leave it up to him. One of my favorite stories about Ray took place at a staff meeting. Ray was holding a cup of coffee in his left hand and another geologist asked him for the time of day. Without hesitation, he rotated his wrist to look at his watch, pouring all of the coffee into his lap. Ray was the Jacques Clouseau of geology.

Raw uncut diamond. Note the distinct trigons (triangular growth plates on
the diamond) this is characteristic of many diamonds.
The Cheyenne family arrived with their gem. They talked about the gemologist’s opinion and their concern about my scratching their diamond. I don't know if Ray had ever seen an diamond in the rough and after examining the fist-size specimen with a hand lens, he decided to get a better look and carried it to his microscope in his adjacent lab. With the family in tow, he lost control of the sample and the specimen crashed onto the floor shattering into dozens of pieces.

The family turned white as ghosts. But Ray consoled them as he was looking down at all of the pieces. “Well, guess it wasn’t a diamond – it has conchoidal fracture”.   The family scooped up the fragments of their precious quartz and went home, never to be seen again. When Ray told me about his encounter – I laughed, and then pointed out to him that diamond (as well as quartz) also has conchoidal fracture. Ray turned white. But, I said, don't worry it was just a piece of quartz.

* This story originally appeared in an article in the ICMJ Prospecting and Mining Journal as

Hausel, W.D., 2000, Diamond Fever: International California Mining Journal, v. 69, no. 6, p. 13-15. At the time, Ray Harris was still alive and a productive member of society. However, within 6 years, he passed away after being harassed endlessly at the Wyoming State Geological Survey. It was a very sad note for a person I admired and respected. Of a very small staff of only about 26 people, 2 died, and about 40% resigned, retired or quit (all covered up by the government & press).

Barbara - you Shouldn't Have

When spring arrives; prospectors comb the hills in search of the yellow metal - GOLD! Many look and find nothing; others find traces of gold, a few find nuggets, others accidentally find hidden treasure: ruby, sapphire, benitoite, garnet, diamond.  And still others find lots of mica - that golden bladed crystal that fools more people than an honest politician.

Then it hits, the illness - an awful incurable disease: GOLD FEVER. It affects many – the inflicted surrender everything including common sense. In local pubs, con-men search out the inflicted to provide opportunities to invest in mines that are too good to be true. It is like Congress and taxes or Obama and stimulus – the more you give, the more they take, and the more they lie - its like a gangster movie that never ends.

Mark Twain wrote, ‘a gold mine is a hole in the grown with a liar standing over it,’ in reference to this infliction. I'm reminded of my favorite con-grandma. An elderly lady from Atlantic City. I always enjoyed seeing Barbara (RIP), but then again, I never caught gold fever so I was immune to her scams. Soaking wet, she weighed 98 pounds – a tiny, bent over elderly lady who seemed totally harmless, yet could drink anyone under the table – an important attribute for someone in her line of work. As told by my good friend Steve Gyorvary, she kept contracts in the trunk of her car along with bottles of fool’s gold to sell to the gullible and inflicted. In any gold district, gullible wannabe prospectors are found by the dozens and con-men are there to help them part with their money.

Steve and his family had purchased the Mary Ellen gold mine years ago – this is how I met him. I was mapping the South Pass greenstone belt and all of the historical mines I could get access to. Steve’s Mary Ellen was developed by an incline shaft with levels that followed a vein in a tonalite stock (tonalite is similar to quartz diorite and granite). Steve and I mapped the Mary Ellen mine with my assistant Jay Roberts.

The Mary Ellen shaft is 240 feet deep with 5 levels. The mine was dug on a quartz vein 3 feet wide that narrows to 6 inches in places. In some stopes and drifts, miners only removed as much rock as necessary, characteristic of 19th century hardrock gold mines. Thus Steve, my assistant, and I crawled through these narrow tunnels. And some were very narrow.

Anyway, Steve’s dad decided to visit his son along with the family mine. Unlike the slovenly of the 60s and 70s, his father dressed to travel – wearing a suit to fly from St. Louis to Wyoming to visit Steve and the mine. Upon arriving in Atlantic City, he stopped in the Mercantile, a local pub where everyone sooner or later ended up in this tiny town of 47 people with 30 dogs. Sitting at the bar, Barbara's eyes lit up – anyone who knew her could read her mind – ‘a rich sucker just walked through the door – a man wearing a suit in a gold district with no paved roads had to be rich’.

She latched onto him, bought him a drink and found he did indeed have an interest in gold! “I have a mine to sell. It's rich. I don't want to get rid of it, but have no choice, a family death - you know; thus I can sell it to you at very low price”, she announced. Slamming down the contract for the mine, she continued “all you have to do is sign here, and you'll be the proud owner of the Mary Ellen mine”. Steve’s Dad looked at her in amazement and responded to Barbara, “Why I believe I already own that mine”.

I heard that Barbara periodically sold the same mine or claim 2 or 3 times a year. She met one wannabe prospector who couldn’t believe his luck. A bottle full of gold. “No, I don’t want to sell it, I plan to keep this gold”, she told him. But after many drinks, he was light-headed and Barbara looked as if she would slide under the table. He continued to press her and she finally capitulated and sold the gold for 85% of spot price. Later, proudly displaying his gold in the Mercantile for everyone to see until one knowledgeable prospector pointed out the bottle seemed awful light for gold, and the gold rolled around suspended in the water when agitated.

“It looks like mica to me!" indicated the prospector.

The Atlantic City volunteer fire department later responded to an alarm. Barbara's Cadillac was on fire – someone had poured gas on the car and set it on fire.

Another of the hundreds of stories I enjoyed about Barbara. She lived in a dump of a cabin a very short distance southwest of the Mercantile. But she spent more time in the Mercantile two houses down the street where she ran a bar tab each day and night. By evening, she would get really stewed and walk home a few yards down the dirt road to her cabin. But she had to pass Jim Rutter's cabin along the way where she would pause; lean against his trommel to catch her breath, then make the next couple of yards to her door. This went on all spring and summer.

As Steve tells the story, near the end of July, Jim moved his trommel to his claim. The next evening, Barbara closed down the Mercantile pub again. Started her walk home. Made it to her rest stop and put her arm out to rest against the trommel. Thud! There was no trommel. It took some time, but Barbara finally got up, puzzled and made it the rest of the way to her cabin.

Wow, look at this large flake of gold! Just kidding. Many people are fooled when
finding mica in their gold pans thinking they have gold. I had one prospector
who claimed to had barrels of gold flakes that he collected from the Middle Fork of the
Little Laramie River (which he panned all winter long in the icy cold temperatures
in Wyoming). His reward for all of that work was a nasty cold and lots of potting soil -
no gold! Gold is not transparent or translucent like the muscovite crystal above, it does
not roll end over end in a gold pan, and it does not have mirror-like flat surfaces.

Note the color difference between the gold in this pan from Douglas Creek and the mica above. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Goo-Day Mate!  Off to Australia I went in 1986 to look at the great Argyle diamond mine in the Kimberlys of northern Australia. At the time, the mine was developing into the largest and most productive diamond mine in the world. I had always wanted to see Australia - I heard they had jackrabbits that made the Wyoming rabbits look small and could even carry our Wyoming fuzzy critters in their front pocket - now that's a rabbit! 
On my nearly one month journey of Australia, I visited a couple of diamond mines with rocks very similar to those in the Leucite Hills of Wyoming. These were not kimberlites, but instead were lamproites. It was a great discovery that was missed by DeBeers because it didn't quite fit their exploration model. So an Australian group (Ashton) had to find this deposit. Exploration models are great, but so is an open mind.

While in the search for diamonds in the outback, we discovered that the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth was not really in Phoenix. According to Bill Bryson's book, In a Sunburned Country, the highest temperature ever recorded was in the Australian outback (145 degrees F). Note the group of people in the photo to the left - only two people were not under the only two shade trees for hundreds of kilometers. One was the photographer (me). 
Some of the Argyle diamonds
So, we visited the Argyle mine - and believe it or not, they would not give us free samples! We later visited the Noonkahbah field of lamproites and then the Ellendale lamproites. It was a great trip even though there was no water in the outback to bathe in or drink - at least nothing that I was interested in (see photo below). Before and after the diamond field trips, we explored some gold camps in greenstone belts and examined auriferous shear zones, pillow basalts and some spectacular spinifex komatiites. While there, I met some people I knew, and also made some new friends.

One person I met in Australia was Dr. Valadiski who was a scientist from Russia, which was still part of the ominous Soviet Union in those days. I was surprised by his candor and enjoyed talking with him. But for any Democrat who thinks socialism is a good idea, you should have your head examined. After talking to people who lived in this repressed society, it is amazing that anyone in our society could think there is anything beneficial.

So while I was in Australia, apparently a reporter from the Casper Star Tribune, a local paper from central Wyoming stopped by my office looking for information on diamond exploration activity in Wyoming. He was told I was at an Australian diamond conference, and I would be back in two weeks.

Two weeks later, the very day I got back from the outback, the reporter called to see if I could give him information on diamond exploration in the Leucite Hills north of Rock Springs and wanted to know if I had talked to any company reps who were looking for diamonds in Wyoming?

"Sorry" I said, "but there was not much information". "I talked to a geologist from a Belgium mining company - they had taken a small sample from the Leucite Hills, but their lab was still processing the sample and there were no results yet".

"Was there anyone else", he asked?

"Just one other person", I said. "While talking with one of the top Soviet diamond geologists, he mentioned he had developed a geochemical model for identifying diamond potential in lamproites. By using the available published geochemistry in the literature and plugging it into his model, he told me there could not be any diamonds in the Leucite Hills!"

"Oh" he said. And that was the end of the conversation and I thought the end of this.

Not so! People today talk mainstream press and its problems. Well, its always been bad; its just today, they are a little worse. Why do you think no one buys newspapers anymore.

Well, the next day, an article showed up in the headlines of the Casper Star Tribune and the Laramie Boomerang, "Soviets Investigating Possibility of Diamonds in Sweetwater County!".

When I got to work, the State Geologist, Gary Glass called me in his office and asked me what was going on - the phones were ringing off the wall and every red neck in the state wanted to know where exactly these Russians were located so they could run them out of the US!

So, in between the next 3 to 4 thousand phone calls, I wrote a letter to the editor. It was published in a tiny column. It didn't matter, few people saw the letter to the editor and the phones continued to ring for weeks. At the time, I was disgusted, but today, I guess it kind of entertaining.
A sample of Argyle olivine lamproite.
This rock was some of the richest ever
found. It reportedly averaged 680
carats per 100 tonnes.
Mt Gytha lamproite breccia in the Noonkanbah field in Australia

Looking towards hill in the Ellendale field from a termite mound.
The hill in the background is one of the several Ellendale lamproite
volcanoes in the outback.

Thursday, December 10, 2009


It’s common knowledge - one can literally walk into the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, trip over the Lost Dutchman mine, fill their pockets full of gold, crawl out to Apache Junction and buy the other half of the US.

That's me, former Senior Economic Geologist at the Wyoming Geological
Survey (University of Wyoming). Some say the most successful geologist in the history
of Wyoming for mineral discoveries. Sounds impressive until you find out about the
other geologists, such as 'General George' who spent 35 years collecting a salary to
research George Armstrong Custer (you are probably asking what does that have
to do with geology? And so were we. The general was rewarded by
a raise and promotion to management in 2006).

Or 'Rawhide' who took longer than the ice age to edit manuscripts
(Rawhide was given one 42- page manuscript to edit and review.
After he received the manuscript in 1997, I wrote a 374-page book on
diamond deposits with Dr. Ed Erlich. We started the book from scratch a few
years after the 42-page manuscript was submitted, and it still took 3 years longer for
Rawhide to review, edit & publish than it took SME to review, edit & publish the
diamond book). So, the state geologist awarded Rawhide with a raise and
promotion to management in 2006.

There was 'Howard Costel', the greatest sportscaster in the history of the Wyoming
Geological Survey (when awake). Yes I was also surprised we had our own
sportscaster.  In 2006, the state geologist gave him a raise and promoted him to management.
Is there a pattern here?

The state geologist hired many of his friends. I suspect some
Rodeo fans in Gillette would be shocked to find their
tax dollars went to pay salaries for a Chinese communist who had
no idea what he was doing at the Geological Survey along with the Russian geophysicist
who may have spoken English, but apparently kept it a secret (and also had no idea what
he was doing at the Geological Survey according to an interpreter).

We still wonder about payments made by the Geological Survey to a fictitious company
located at a dentist's office in Laramie? What was that all about?
Well, lets get back to mineral discoveries.
Legend after legend tells of untold riches at the Lost Dutchman but with little evidence that the mine ever existed; yet this mine is talked about by nearly every prospector in North America and you can bet scam artists will raise $millions to search for this Lost mine. I must say, I’m intrigued by these myths and why we believe them. Human nature? Why don't we just spend time searching for real gold deposits - there are hundreds out there, all we need to do is look. In nearly every present and past gold mining district in the world, there are dozens of good deposits that were overlooked by the past prospectors and mining companies. All it takes is for one to spend time learning about the characteristics of the deposits in the area, the regional geology and then doing some prospecting.
A specimen of the Lost Dutchman gold inlaid in this matchbox on display
at the Superstition Mountain Museum. Did this come from the
Vulture mine?
Gold Panning on the Middle Fork of the Little Laramie
River in the Medicine Bow Mountains. We use to offer
prospecting field trips to teach how to find gold, but the
US Forest Service demanded that we must have a permit
to do such nasty things on our public land. In 2010, a
 group of 20 people were looking forward to prospecting.
But the US Forest Service denied a permit because
we might step on some flowers. Not that the other
100,000 people who visit the MBM might step on flowers.
So, I no longer teach this field classes. If you would like to
see me back in the field, write to your Congressman and
tell them that the FS and BLM are misusing our public
Take Gold Rush Alaska. These guys started looking for gold on the Discovery Channel, but they should have read 'Gold Mining For Dummies' first, as they did everything exactly backwards (i.e., one should first prove a deposit has gold before spending several $hundred thousand driving to the deposit with equipment that they had no idea if it would work or not). 

It was even apparent that none of these wannabe miners had any idea on how to operate a gold pan, let alone a trommel.  Guess what surprises me most about this program is that these guys just show up in Alaska and in the Yukon and start mining. Talk about a tough venture. The only time people do things like this is when the economy collapses and people can no longer find jobs. So the best way to resolve this is to search for gold! It didn't take long before these gold prospectors ran into a serious problem - no not the weather, but the government inspectors.

When I ran the US exploration arm for DiamonEx Ltd, we had card-carrying Greenie bureaucrats with the US Forest Service, US Bureau of Land Management, EPA, Colorado DEQ, local home owner associations and county officials wanting a handout. Just to drill a dry pond that was covered with 4-wheeler tracks using a small drill rig to a depth of about 150 feet, it took months of paperwork and permits from Larimer County, the State of Colorado and the US Forest Service (and it cost our company enough to fund the Gold Rush Alaska boys for an entire season, when it should have only cost a few $thousand at the most. The next time you buy something in Walmart, you should have a very good idea as to why everything is made in China - they have no permits that cause cost delays over $200 thousand, and they are in our leaders' pockets big time).

Then after all of of this BS, the FS delayed our drilling operation several more weeks until their local ranger could take a vacation from her donut break in Laramie to come out to the site to tell us to move the drill rig from the center of the pond to its edge so that it would be less damaging to the environment. These delays were a significant problem. When we were exploring this region, it was prior to the 2008 economic crash and every drill rig in the country had a waiting list because of the boom in mineral's exploration. When the crash came, it destroyed hundreds of companies including DiamonEx.

One of the Lost Lakes cryptovolcanic depressions in the Colorado-Wyoming
State Line district that required months of environmental scrutiny before
permits would be issued by the county, the state and the feds.
Then we wanted to build a small mill to test one of our diamond properties. But we could not find water (it didn't matter that the site was sitting adjacent to a creek that had diamonds in it, and that the two kimberlites we wanted to mine had shear zones containing water, we could not get water rights and the county wanted us to move the mill somewhere close to Ft. Collins. Then after we found a possible mill site at a gravel quarry, the county didn't want us running trucks full of diamonds on their road because it might kick up some dirt. You just can't win.

It was nice to have the title of Vice President of Exploration for a diamond company, but I will never, never do that again. The headaches are too much for this o' country boy. I make a very good independent consulting geologist, but never would I work in management again.

Back to myths. So why do so many politicians believe in the myth of human caused global warming? Our ice caps are melting and the ocean has risen several feet on the East and West coasts of the US. Or have they?  I was in California and Florida two summers ago and neither place seemed to be under water. Maybe all of the water evaporated? Is there something amiss here? You bet there is. Money, money, money. Like all good politicians and environmentalists, Al Gore and others stand to make $billions on the global warming scam. But we all know that Al Gore is the savior of the environment? Then there is the recent listing of carbon dioxide as a pollutant by the EPA - plant food! My, my, what next for the EPA, will it be water and oxygen? I will have to write about the time that the EPA invaded Laramie, Wyoming in space suits - you will love this one.
Massive pyrite, also known as fool's gold.
Myths will always be embellished, and through time such stories gain more intrigue as each person adds a little of their own flavor to they myth. But I must say that at least the Lost Dutchman has more scientific credibility than man-caused global warming, climate change, or what ever government pseudo-scientists and grant-starved academicians are calling it today. But at least many gold myths have some credibility that may start as a rock filled with pyrite (fool's gold) and grow into a Mountain of Gold as the myth is fertilized through time.

I grew up in Utah. Went to graduate school at the University of Utah and then to the University of New Mexico. I heard about the Lost Rhoades (Mormon) gold mine. It’s located somewhere near Provo and has so much gold that one could pave a highway with the precious metal – if only it could be found again. With so much gold, I’m surprised such a mine could remain hidden. I’ve been told of the evidence - Angel Moroni, a statue on top of the Salt Lake temple, is coated with gold - and of course that gold had to have come from this mine (or from prospectors who lost their hair). Take for instance Mountain Meadows. Mountain Meadows?
I never heard of it. I was surprised because I grew up in Utah as a Utah Gentile (when I worked at the Hansen Planetarium in college, my boss was Jewish, and he often remarked that he too was a Gentile in Utah). I had to take Utah history in public schools and Mountain Meadows was never mentioned, but the site of the massacre happened to be located in the middle of my thesis area. So while I was mapping volcanic rocks, I did a little reading. So did the gold come from robbing prospectors on their way back east from the Californian gold fields? To be honest with you, I have no idea. I suspect much of the gold came from Mormon miners working prospects in the Oquirrh Mountains or other localities in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, or Nevada.

When I left the land of Zion for New Mexico and later left the Taco State for the Cowboy State, I heard about the Lost Cabin Gold Mine in the Northern Big Horn Mountains (you should be getting the impression that every state has a lost gold mine). So much gold was found that the prospectors filled their pockets and saddle bags with gold and then out-ran a band of Indians (can we still call them Indians? Is this still politically correct?) (while weighed down with tons of gold). They were unable to later rediscover the location of the mine. It still remains lost in the myths of time.

It is unfortunate so many people waste time and money on myths and scams when there are actual gold deposits to be found. But even if you find a gold deposit, real mines have to be made and worked. But for some environmental groups they would rather run scams than work for a living. People who build mines end up paying taxes to have the privilege of paying much of their hard-earned cash to government bandits - we know them as Congressmen.

Abandoned gold dredge, Flat Alaska, 1988.
Years ago, I attended a Northwestern Mining Conference in Spokane. I don’t remember the name of the person who made the statement but he said, “Mines are not found, they are made”. This person understood what was required – a lot of hard work and a whole lot of luck. Mark Twain stated “A gold mine is a hole in the ground with a liar standing over it”. Few people like to put the work into making a mine, particularly when they can sell worthless dirt for $millions. And I'll tell you about the people who sold dirt for $millions!

It is a fact that gigantic riches are hidden at vortexes that only make their appearance on the 3rd full moon of each millennium when Mars passes through Aquarius, Saturn through Leo, Kolob through who knows where, or where a compass is mysteriously deflected by a hidden UFO landing site, where dowsing rods bend, or where coffee boils at a faster rate. Why should one particular atom, i.e, gold, defy all of physical laws of the universe and create so many unexplained esoteric anomalies? When you begin searching for your Mountain of Gold, use the laws of science – forget baloney and you will be a lot better off. If nothing else, you may lose a few pounds and gain self-esteem.

There is literally thousands of gold, gemstone and other mineral deposits scattered all over North America. All one has to do is to put together honest work, learn a little geology, study a little history, have an open mind, use science, learn to differentiate fact from fiction, avoid Canadian promoters, people of prominent religious standing, lawyers and state geologists from Wyoming. There’s nothing to it. I'm not suggesting I'm not religious - because I am. Its just that one needs to beware of con-men in all professions.

In my book - MOUNTAIN OF GOLD, I will provide a guide on how to find mineral deposits. I will tell you stories that will make you cry, stories that will make you laugh. I will tell you about stupidity so rampant in government and in some exploration companies, that you will wonder if Darwin was right. I will tell you about how I identified gemstones that everyone else walked over!

I found visible gold in outcrops (typically, if you see a single pinpoint of visible gold in a rock specimen with a 10x hand lens, the sample will assay at least one ounce/ton in gold – that is $1200 per ounce of this stuff) and started gold rushes in the Seminoe Mountains, South Pass, Sierra Madre, Rattlesnake Hills and other places. I was on the discovery team of a major gold find in the Kuskokwim Mountains in Alaska that was classified as the largest undeveloped gold deposit in North America and more recently as one of the largest untapped gold deposits in the world.

The largest colored gemstone deposit on earth may have been found in 2005. As a reward, my field vehicle was confiscated and reassigned to the secretary. I was threatened to be fired by the director of the Geological Survey. Apparently, I was finding too much, making the government nervous. I discovered one thing about socialism - if you work hard, you put your job on the line. Bureaucrats and their understudies are threatened by those who disturb donut breaks. I must apologize for digressing into politics again.

I found several gemstone deposits including > hundred gold anomalies, a platinum-palladium-gold-nickel anomaly that still remains unexplored, I found mountains of iolite (wouldn't make a very good book title). I found rubies, sapphires, aquamarines, heliodors, gem apatites, jasper, agate, hills of opal (might be a good book title), diamonds, Cape Rubies, Cape Emeralds, peridots & evidence for several hundred diamond deposits. I found some of the largest kyanite gem deposits on earth. Hey, one iolite gem deposit I examined has an estimated (now get this) >2 trillion carats (now you know why my former boss was so upset). In this book I will tell you how to find and where to find real treasures.

How could one person find so much? I used scientific methods (unlike the pseudo-scientists at the University of Anglia who falsified data and models to promote their global warming scam). I didn’t have to go far. Some of these deposits were sitting right along the interstate. Some adjacent to US Highways. Several w
ere within a stone’s throw of the pavement.

This is a book about me, prospectors, about how to prospect. It is about the best people in the world (prospectors) and some scum (directors, bureaucrats, forest rangers). It is about my experience in life and the life I came to know. It is about some crazy prospectors. It is about the Mountain of Gold and how I found it. I hope you enjoy my stories! Most are true.

Gold does something to people. It is like an additive drug, booze, or gambling. Most people are semi-normal until you put gold in front of their noses, and then they do things that just don’t make sense. Sometimes you don’t even have to put gold in front of their noses, just implant the image of caves filled with gold, and they are gone – off to the holodeck – with gray mass scattered across the universe during beam up.

My personal search for gold began in 1977. I was hired as the ‘Economic Geologist’ for the Wyoming Geological Survey. In 1977, this research agency at the University of Wyoming was aptly known at the Geological Survey of Wyoming, it had previously been known as the Wyoming Territorial Survey. Over the years, one paranoid director renamed the agency the Wyoming Geological Survey. This was fine, but in a short time, it was renamed again. He wanted the public to be sure they knew we were separate from the US Geological Survey (not that anyone cared).

And before I could hand out all of my business cards, I kid you not, he changed the name again. And he was being paid big bucks to do this. This time he was concerned about the legislature. But maybe he had something here – after all, we are talking about dimwitted politicians who should have already been eliminated by natural selection. We now became the Wyoming State Geological Survey as if this would protect the agency from budget cuts. I remember throwing away hundreds of business cards as we changed the agency’s name 3 times in 2 years. What a legacy to be remembered for. But this was nothing compared to later directors.

Dan Hausel, former geologist from the Wyoming Geological Survey at the
University ofWyoming, makes the cover of the Prospecting and Mining Journal following
discoveries of the largest iolite (water sapphire) gemstones ever found on earth, along with
opals over 75,000 carats, rubies, sapphires, peridot, kyanite, commercial gold deposits,
diamonds, and more.
Compared to surrounding states, Wyoming produced only a minor amount of gold: actually, a comparatively insignificant amount. Such a discrepancy is notable when comparing the Cowboy State to Montana, South Dakota, Colorado and Idaho (we could even throw in Arizona, Nevada, California and Utah). One has to wonder how all of the surrounding states could have produced 50 to 200 times as much gold and be so endowed in silver and copper while Wyoming has practically nothing: just trivial gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, nickel, platinum and palladium. How could metal deposits know where the state boundaries were, and how could they just stop at the boundary?The answer is, they don’t. The geology of Wyoming is favorable for discovery of significant deposits of precious metals associated with porphyry deposits, stocks, volcanics, volcanic and sedimentary breccias, replacement deposits, vein deposits, shear zone deposits, exhalites, massive sulfides, layered complexes, placers and paleoplacers to name a few. Thus one has to look at the environment in Wyoming as well as at the government to find a partial cause for this discrepancy. Why would the geology be favorable and yet the amount of mined precious and base metals be so trivial compared to neighboring states? For instance, Idaho produced 25 times more gold, Montana 50 times more gold, Colorado and South Dakota 200 times more gold than Wyoming. With Wyoming lying in the middle of these states and having similar geology, something just does not jive: it is very likely that significant gold deposits remain hidden and/or lie within the massive withdrawn areas in the state.

Wyoming was a difficult place for prospectors to work because of high winds and desolate plateaus surrounded by mountain ranges that became a battleground for immigrants and Indians. Historical records from the 1800s report constant conflicts between the Emigrants and Indians. But the government and green movements provided an even more noisome environment to mining. Throughout the 20th and 21st centuries piecemeal withdrawals of potentially productive terrains continued to occur in the state that continues to be unchecked. The size of the total area withdrawn from mining is now larger than whole states.

Over the years, I witnessed potentially productive regions being withdrawn for the most trivial reasons and it became apparent that the government sought to withdraw regions with mineral potential by using National Park, wilderness and roadless designations, the rare and endangered species act, and any other act they could dream up. Potentially, the greatest mineralized region on the planet is now incorporated in Yellowstone National Park. And the more recent Roadless designations have also been misguided. All of the lands incorporated into Roadless withdrawals that I visited are crisscrossed by dozens of roads. With the Federal government being out of control, the State Government didn’t want to be left behind and periodically flexed its bureaucratic muscles. Most notable was the purchase of private land by the State so the bureaucrats could enclose the State’s largest known gold deposit into a historic site without considering any geological studies (which were available at the time of withdrawal). In fact, the legislature purposely avoided geological studies of the Carissa mine as the author of this legislation knew that the property had considerable potential and wanted to eliminate controversy. Thus the legislation was snuck through the bureaucratic halls in Cheyenne and Wyoming’s largest known gold deposit was scheduled to be demolished to produce a picnic site for a few dozen tourists, rather than create high-paying jobs and recover significant severance taxes on gold production. Does the government have our best interests in mind? I doubt that.

Hausel often taught prospectors, rock hounds and geologists his methods
for finding mineral deposits.

Where the American Indians failed, the government succeeded. In 2003, after some press releases about discovery of a major opal deposit had been released by my office (Cedar Ridge deposit), it became apparent that the US Bureau of Land Management looked to withdraw this discovery to protect a desolate area filled with sagebrush and pump-jacks. But this became even more obvious when one realizes that the BLM had no idea where in the state this opal deposit was located – but they still wanted to withdraw the land and protect anything they could dream up. After I had sampled the 16 mi2 region, I purposely kept the opal discovery site secret so that all citizens of the US could have equal opportunity to stake claims on a major gem and decorative stone deposit. Before the report was released, I was called by the BLM who demanded to know the location prior to the report’s release. I refused. Even so, as soon as the report was released, the BLM went to work to try to stop the public from staking claims and exploring for commercial opal deposits. They championed a non-indigenous flower as a reason to protect this desolate area from prospectors. But this was not the first time the government showed their intentions to keep the public mineral wealth from the public.
Professor Hausel leads one of many field trips to the South Pass gold
district. After being rewarded with some of the more prestigious awards
in science and geology, he took early retirement in 2007 from the Wyoming
Geological Survey to work as VP of Exploration for an international diamond
mining company. It was rumored the professor left the WGS
on ethical grounds - he could not work for a complete idiot. 

Several years earlier, I had been asked by the US Forest Service to accept a grant to study and map all of the known mines in the Medicine Bow National Forest because I knew these better than any other person. The purpose of the project was to reclaim dangerous mines, which there were very few that were actually dangerous. In the grant proposal, I had stated I would use $20,000 per year to test mineralized and altered rock for metal content while mapping – I felt it was important for the USFS to know what they were reclaiming and planning to bury. I had already seen abuse of the abandoned mine program in several places in the state where the government paid a $million+ for a copper exchange unit to extract copper from a trickle of water from a historic copper mine that used a plastic Walmart kiddy pool with a cow manure bucket. Another property was a potentially economic strategic and precious metal deposit that was reclaimed at a very high price, so the land could be subdivided and sold as cabin sites by the contractor who had received the funds. And there were many more.

When the grant report was presented to the USFS, they used 6 months to review it and signed off on the grant. It had been active for one month when I got a call from the project chief in Denver who indicated that he had just read the grant proposal (after having it in his possession for 7 months!). He said he had just read the proposal and needed to modify the project. They would not allow me to take any samples or test any rocks and would not allow me to even collect samples! They apparently realized that even though I knew where all of the old mines were located, had visited most of them over the years, my reputation as a mine finder had got to them. They did not want me to find any more mineral deposits. I politely told the USFS to shove the grant up their adit.