... and Photo 12 shows one of the pieces to which we applied our finalized technique, after "round 1." This Photo shows the association of Willow Creek Gold with brecciated, greenschist-altered phyllite.
If you look closely, you'll see reddish-brown colored edges along the Gold exposures, but you can't see the the various carbonate-flooded veins and host rock, each of which required specific techniques to reduce and/or remove the host-rock and/or oxide coatings, in order to liberate the Gold within.
Photo 13 shows the largest specimen I prepared from the find, which weighed between 25 and 30 ounces of Gold. In total, I spent a couple months cleaning the remainder of the specimens, sans the cobble- to boulder-sized pieces, to prepare for Tucson 2016. In the end, I even went to the Calder ranch to prep the last pieces just before the Show!
Gold from the Ralph J. Roberts Lode, Wadley Mine, Willow Creek District, East Range, Pershing County, Nevada, USA (2015)
For many collectors, the thought of procuring our own specimens from the ground is an ultimate dream. I've built my life out of this dream, and have hundreds of stories to share, but simply don't have time to list each one. Instead, I'll start with some of my favorites, beginning with a recent trip "collecting" Gold at Willow Creek, in the East Range, Pershing County, Nevada, USA.
Note: this particular effort was tied to my Consulting business, and based entirely on my geologic mapping and opinions, so I traded normal charges for pro-bono work, as I'm extremely confident in my ability to find deposits at all scales. This project was no exception, as I turned a $60,000 investment into more than $1,000,000 worth of specimens, with potentially much more to come!
For security purposes, we had decided earlier to remove the Golds from this Showcase well before the end of the Tucson Event, as the closing days can be frantic, and Gold, Silver, and cuttable gemstones are the main targets of mineral thieves, as they can be beaten and broken, but still retain their intrinsic market values.
Not a bad collecting trip, at all! It must be mentioned that all remaining specimens were left with the property owners in Winemucca, Nevada, USA. Apex does not possess a single piece from this find, and is not currently associated with any further sales as we have turned our full attention to our own projects. Stay tuned, as I really like collecting rocks, and expect to have exciting things from our planned 2017 operations ready as soon as the Fall Denver Show!
COLLECTING STORIES I
The vantage of Photo 1 shows the head of Willow Creek, itself reported by the pinkish-colored willows that follow the winding bottom of the canyon. In the middle hills, on the left side of the photo, many of the old workings of the Wadley Mine are visible as the disturbed ground, colored brown and laying just below the clumps of juniper trees. Note: the roads in the distance are mostly associated with pre-1981 exploration activities, as we are since required to both permit and provide an assured "bond," essentially money paid up front to reclaim the disturbance and restore the environment. A major exception to this rule exists on "private ground," which the Wadley Mine occurs on.
Private grounds are exempt from the permitting processes required on federally managed BLM and USFS ground, and can operate at will. I prefer to contact the BLM and USFS ahead as a way of maintaining friendly contact, especially if something unexpected were to happen. In the case of the Wadley Mine, my principal worries centered on blasting and related fracturing of the rock, which could breach a "hanging" aquifer, releasing a torrent of water into the canyon below, possibly endangering wildlife, livestock, and historic buildings, and permanently altering a major drainage that currently recharges aquifers for the major ranches in the valley below.
The newly collected and cleaned pieces from our find, which Calder appropriately named the Ralph J. Roberts Lode (after a famous Nevada geologist), fill all the shelves except for the upper shelf. This upper shelf was mounted fairly high, and we used it to display the pieces brought from the 1994 Lokel find, and from a few other locations. Once finished, this was Apex's first ever million-dollar Showcase!
Apex emailed its entire distribution list to arrange for 20-minute-long private showings on the day before we officially opened for the 2016 Tucson Event, and the time-slots filled quickly. Sales were brisk, and thankfully representatives for The Mineralogical Record and Robert Brandstetter from Lapis were able to stop by and take photos of a few of the best pieces, which made their respective publications for versions of "what's new in Tucson?" These were published in the May-June 2016 issue of the Mineralogical Record (Photos 18 and 19), and the March 2016 issue of Lapis (Photos 20 and 21).
In the interest of the short-term, the owners decided skip any notification and focus work on the Wadley Mine area, and specifically the Wadley #5 Shaft, where I literally placed my finger on the spot "I'd spend my own money on." Photo 2 shows the extent of activity, including drilling and blasting holes to loosen the ground, excavating the muck using an excavator, and pushing the waste out into small dumps using a bulldozer.
Photo 3 helps to better appreciate the scale of the operation, I think. The owners (Calder Mining) decided to use my suggested guidance based on my earlier mapping to raise enough money to initiate the operation, which did not involve me for the first 28 days. Everything changed on day 29, when I received a call that "we're in it!"
This date happened to coincide with the beginning of the Fall Denver Show in 2015, and because I had mapped the exact location of the lode, Calder decided to suspend operations for a week to meet me in Denver with examples of the Gold just found. This was also a mutual strategic decision to allow me to map the new exposures myself, as my initial endorsement made the project legitimate for their investors to begin with.
I drove to Wadley immediately after flying back from Denver, with my (then) 11-year-old son and Ken Coleman (Tiny Miner's Minerals & Exploration) to help. When we arrived, Calder went back to work, and Ken and I made numerous independent measurements and observations to determine exact controls for the ultra-grade Gold, as we plan to be within a few inches of prediction for our techniques to work at Wadley Adit #5 (Photo 4 shows my modified structural-countour map I used to track the high-grade shoots)...
... and they did! The red-tinted rocks on the bottom left in Photo 5 are oxidized parts of the Pyrite envelope in the enclosing Phyllite. Yeah, we're definitely "in it." For the next 48 hours, we operate a precise "push-and-detect" exercise, with two associates from Calder Mining operating the excavator and detector (the white disc attached to a black harness in Photo 5), and my son digging and separating coarse gold from other material, holding the green scooper in Photo 5.
Once isolated, the coarse gold pieces, many of which comprised large blocks of enclosing matrix, were handed to me to stack on the back tailgate of one of Calder's vehicles. Photo 6 shows me with a large block of phyllite with Gold showing throughout, Photo 7 shows one of the samples we found that had lots of naturally exposed gold, and Photo 8 shows the tailgate full of everything from mostly small pieces to boulder-sized rocks, each producing a sharp squeal from whichever metal-detector we were using at the time. I'll never forget the sound of the detectors, and the sight of my son handing me more than a pound of Gold in single chunks he pulled from the ground!
Now, off to my Showroom at the Hotel Tucson City Center. A few days later, and I'm almost finished setting up the Gold Showcase (Photo 17). Unfortunately, I only have video of the finalized display, and the files are too big to load, for now.
Photo 1, looking east-northeast
Now to the "laboratory" to work through myriad possible chemical-cleaning and trimming techniques to figure which ones, and more importantly, in which order they should be applied in to release the specimens from the rocks. It took me nearly two weeks to finally figure out the optimal cleaning method for the Willow Creek pieces. Photos 9 through 11 show some of the various stages associated with the cleaning process...
As described in "About Us" on our Homepage, Apex is a Mineral provider first, but we also participate in numerous mining and exploration projects throughout the year. This report summarizes one of the neatest Gold discoveries in the last couple decades in Nevada; more on this at the end of the report.
I won't show any real examples of proprietary techniques I used to target structurally controlled, high-grade gold deposits described in this report, but feel free to contact me with questions!
Enough said; let's look at the effort it takes to turn $60,000 into $1,000,000, with a strong upside still remaining, starting with a photo of the old workings of the Wadley Mine, located at the head of the famous Willow Creek Placers (Photo 1). I took this photo during a reconnaissance-mapping trip in late March of 2015.
Photos 14 through 16 show finished pieces at the Calder home office, as they were being priced and packed for Tucson, 2016. Ironically, Calder has the same granite counter tops I have in my kitchen (shown in Photos 9 - 10). Sorry for the low-light conditions in Photo 15 (showing 84 thumbnail specimens I mounted, including the 2 shown on mindat.org, and my pricing structure for this group), as I worked past 2am on my last night at the Calder place, finishing pricing and labels. Photo 16 shows some of the better pieces from the find in 5 of the upper boxes in the flat, which I mounted on acrylic bases using a removable epoxy. Note the other 7 boxes of specimens with stronger golden color are from a famous 1994 find of Gold at the Lokel Mine; soon, I'll publish a story of the collecting operation I organized here in 2010, and provide details from interviews with one of the original Lokel miners.