The Hurdles You Face in opening a New Gold Mine

So, you have been lucky enough to find a good strike of lode gold!

This will give you an idea of the scale of operations found at a working gold mine.  This is the Buddington Gold Mine in Australia.
Photo by Calistemon
That is only the first step in a long journey that is required to change a gold strike into a producing mine. It has been estimated by members of the mining community than in the United States this is a process that can take as long as seven years or more just for getting the necessary permits to mine. There are permits required by several different governmental agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers. There are also several other permits that are required at the state and local level that can involve not only the Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) in your town, but if you are going to use explosives in your mining operations you are required to have a blasting permit from the town Fire Marshal. In some jurisdictions mining is not permitted under any circumstances.

Even with the permits all in place there is a considerable amount of construction activity that has to be accomplished before you ever get the mine into production. Part of the permitting process also includes a set of plans showing how you were going to open your mine, how work on the mine is going to progress, and how you were going to close the mine. All of this work is expensive at has to be performed by an engineer or landscape architect. It is only providing a basic set of plans that complicates the procedure of opening a mine, it is also some modifications to these plans that are required by several different permitting organizations. Probably the toughest of all is your local planning and zoning commission.

Now that you have your permits all in place after several years then you have to go through the necessary steps required to open your mine, and bring the mind into production. This is going to require all the equipment that is found in a crushed stone quarry and then some. Some of the basic Clement you are going to require is a jaw crusher, a secondary crusher and a set of conveyor belts to move the crushed stone to stockpiles.

A stone crushing plant in operation.
Photo by Richard Law

Depending on the method used to extract gold from its ore will require additional equipment like a giant ball mill to further reduce the ore into a powder. This powder is further refined in a process called floatation where it is mixed with water, and a detergent that forms bubbles that remove the gangue minerals from the gold. These processing steps ultimately lead to a smelter where the gold is cast into bars. The final step of reducing the gold to .999 Fine is done by a special refinery that most miners contract for from an outside source.

A ball mill is the device shown in the background of this photo.

The cost of taking a prospect to a producing mine often exceeds $1 billion or more. That is the reason why only about one in 300 prospects ever get that far, and are developed into a producing nine. For the most part mining lode gold is a major industrial operation that is usually beyond the capabilities of the single person although it has been done in the past and will shortly be done in the future.