Placer Gold Mining
Colombia’s Best Investment Opportunity
When most people think about gold mining, two images come to mind. First, we all grew up learning in history class about the 19th century gold rush, with thousands of ambitious speculators migrating West with nothing but picks, shovels and metal pans to explore the hills and rivers of Nevada and California. Second, the vision of modern mining is of huge operations managed by multi-national corporations investing hundreds of millions of dollars. What you never hear about though, and what presents a lucrative option for the sophisticated individual investor, is placer gold mining.
Placer mining is the mining of alluvial deposits of precious metals, either in rivers and river banks, or in now dry ancient river beds. Gold deposits found in rock formations in the mountains and along the rivers, disrupted through erosion, are displaced via flowing water from rain and washed downhill and concentrated in streams and rivers. Accumulated over thousands of years, these alluvial gold deposits can be extremely rich and relatively easy to access compared to vein deposits found in the surrounding hills and mountains. Historically individual speculators would look for gold in rivers using the simple panning method we have all seen in the history books. While many people still search for gold using this ancient method, a large variety of modern equipment and advanced techniques have been developed in recent years to access richer gold deposits found deeper in river bottoms and dry riverbeds, and to dramatically increase the percentage of gold recovered.
Large-scale river mining usually involves a suction dredge, which is a high capacity pump sitting on a floating platform. The dredge can suction a large quantity of material from riverbeds. After the material is brought to the surface, it gets processed through a variety of machines to separate and concentrate the gold before being deposited back into the river. Dredges can process a large quantity of gold-bearing material quickly and efficiently, and using modern equipment and techniques a gold recovery rate of 80-90% is possible.
Gold production on river banks or dry riverbeds is done with similar equipment as is used on dredges for the separation and concentration of gold, but instead of a floating dredge the gold bearing material is typically collected using an excavator. Excavators can access riverbed material up to 30 feet deep and deposit it into a gold production system that usually includes the following components:
- A bar or wire screen sometimes called a “grizzly” to separate larger stones and rocks from the excavated material
- A spinning trommel further separates smaller gold bearing material from larger stones and pebbles
- Gravity separators such as vibrating tables and sluices then trap heavier gold nuggets and particles from the fine gravel, sand and mud
- The fine material is then fed through machines such as magnetic wet drum separators to recover the very small but abundant gold material that is not visible to the naked eye
The use of this type of modern gold processing equipment, which is surprisingly affordable, can result in very high gold recovery rates.
Colombia is the most gold-rich nation in South America, but it is also the most under-explored and under-developed. Due to security issues and political instability over the past half century, gold production was largely on hold, and by most estimates less than 8% of the country has even been explored. The security situation has changed dramatically however over the past decade due to the success of Plan Colombia, the country’s security partnership with the United States.
In addition to rich mineral deposits Colombia offers a favorable investment climate with legal and financial incentives for mining companies, protection for foreign investment and continued macroeconomic stability. Colombia is fast becoming the most attractive location in Latin America for a variety of industries, especially natural resources exploration.
Colombia also possesses the three critical characteristics that make it a world-class placer mining opportunity:
- One of the world’s largest gold deposits
- Three mountain ranges which contain the vast majority of the country’s gold
- The world’s third highest annual rainfall
The result is that Colombia has a huge network of rivers and dry river beds which are rich in gold and other precious metals, but largely untapped using modern gold recovery equipment.
Access to placer mining sites tend to be relatively easy since personnel and equipment can generally be transported by boat, and infrastructure is usually located along waterways. Placer mining equipment is also not expensive when compared to the equipmentrequired for hard rock, and the exploration process of placer sites is much easier and economical than for traditional hard rock projects. Finally, once production begins gold is being recovered immediately, so positive cash flow is generated immediately and profitability on a typical project is achieved quickly.
Everyone knows gold is a great investment in these times of uncertainty and currency devaluation. Most gold investments are in the precious metal itself, purchased at retail prices on the open market, or in the shares of gold companies that often fluctuate wildly. Most people don’t realize that they can invest in gold production with an investment of under a million dollars, and achieve profitability in under a year. Now is the time to consider an investment in placer gold mining in Colombia.