FIELD TEST

Mineral Master Prospecting And Recovery System
By Reg Sniff
From Page 25
May, 1995 issue of Treasure Facts

Utilizing the same basic principles as those used by mother nature to concentrate gold in streams, the Mineral Master relies on water turbulence and the specific gravity of the materials involved to separate the gold from the lighter materials and trap it in the bottom of a clear plastic jar.

Every day, a multitude of people around the country are out searching in streams or rivers for gold. One of the most popular ways of gold recovery is panning. The reason for the pan's popularity is it is economical, simple, easy to carry, and reliable. However, with the exceptions of adding riffles or changing its shape or making them out of plastic, there has been little change in the general principle.
Now there is a lightweight, easy to use recovery system called the Mineral Master that can either be used as enhancement to or possibly replace the gold pan. This unique instrument is also reasonably priced, simple to use, and easy to carry and, an individual with little experience can process a greater volume of material in less time.
Utilizing the same basic principles as those used by mother nature to concentrate gold in streams, the Mineral Master relies on water turbulence and the specific gravity of the materials involved to separate the gold from the lighter materials and trap it in the bottom of a clear plastic jar.
The Mineral Master system is primarily made of plastic components which include a funnel, different lengths of pvc pipe couplings, and the above mentioned plastic jar. There are a few metal components including a screen, a few screws, and specially designed pieces of aluminum.
HOW IT WORKS:
To use the Mineral Master, one only has to place dirt or sand suspected to contain gold in a funnel (designed as a hopper) and wash the dirt with water down the funnel into a plastic jar below. The water can be supplied from a hose or pouring from a bucket or other container.
To eliminate large rocks from clogging the system, the Mineral Master has a screen mesh glued to inside the funnel. (A second fine mesh screen is also included which will allow the operator to only let minute pieces of material through.) Once the dirt and gold have passed through the screen, the Mineral Master relies on the same principles that concentrate gold in the field, the fact that gold, being heavier than other materials, will quickly settle to the bottom while lighter materials will remain suspended in the water, thus flow out a discharge vent hole.
The amount of water turbulence can be controlled by adjusting the discharge of water. This is done by adjusting an aluminum piece of pipe (used as a sleeve over another small piece of pvc pipe) located on the water discharge pipe arrangement. This aluminum pipe has been specifically drilled so when it is properly rotated, alignment of holes will allow the water to exit a different vent hole. The net result of the adjustment of this sleeve is a difference in water action in the bottom of the plastic jar.
A total of five different turbulence settings are possible, four by adjusting the aluminum sleeve, and the fifth by removing the sleeve and associated plastic pipe altogether.
As mentioned before, the turbulence of the water stirs and separates the materials by their specific gravity. For those of you who might be unfamiliar, specific gravity is a relative term which refers to a materials density or more generally stated weight with respect to water. For example, the gravity of gold is 19.3, which means the gold is 19.3 times heavier than water.
The heavier the material the harder it is to disturb and move around. More importantly, the heavier materials quickly sink to the bottom while lighter materials such as graphite, quartz, and aluminum which have specific gravities between 2 and 3 stay readily suspended in the water and are flushed out of the system.
TESTING IN THE REAL WORLD:
Primary testing was done by running a couple of 5 gallon buckets of sand (belonging to a friend of mine) suspected of having small gold flakes through the Mineral Master system and recovering both the contents in the plastic container, and the discharged material for inspection.
Because the sand only contained small particles of gold (commonly called flour gold), the first two levels of turbulent action were used. Under the controlled conditions, the Mineral Master did a quick job of processing the material compared to processing the same amount of material with a gold pan. The trick was to pre-wet the sand in the buckets, add a little detergent to both the buckets and the Mineral Master and begin dumping the sand into the funnel and washing the material through the unit.
The detergent mentioned above was recommended by Mineral Master to assure that any oil that might be in the system or dirt didn't suspend the small particles of gold and allow them to float out. If there is oil or certain other contaminants in the water or the rest of the system, the small gold flakes, although heavier than the correspondingly amount of water, can readily float or remain on the surface of the water and discharge with the water. This condition occurs because the surface tension of the water is strong enough to overcome the weight of very small pieces of material. (Surface tension is why water beads on different surfaces rather than spreading out.) The detergent significantly reduces the surface tension.
Another reason I elected to use the detergent was to help break up the clay material that the gold seems to love to adhere to. My choice of the lower turbulence actions was to further allow additional time for better material separation and give the detergent more time to work.
One limitation I noted during the testing was the size of material allowed through the system. Only relatively small pieces of gold could be trapped in the jar. Careful inspection of the material left on the screen was necessary to assure larger pieces of gold were not thrown out with small rocks and pebbles.
The same reason for the limitation also presented a problem, trying to keep the screen material free of small rocks. Small pieces of rock were frequently getting stuck and partially plugging the screen material. I found a stiff brush made removal relatively quick in easy in most cases.
As mentioned earlier, I recovered the majority of discharged materials which was accomplished by allowing the vent pipe to discharge into an oversized gold pan (when using a hose as a water source). Once the pan was full, it was emptied into a second bucket. When the testing was complete, the sand that had discharged from the Mineral Master was re-run by using the slower gold panning methods (I am not the fastest gold panner). The resultant panning yielded only a couple pieces of extremely small particles of gold, indicating the Mineral Master did a very respectable job of recovering the gold from the sand.
I did find that when I used my lawn hose as a source of water, I used considerable water to process a 5 gallon bucket of sand. The usage of water dropped considerably when I used a process which allowed recycling of the water. During this process, I suspended the Mineral Master above a large tub and allowed all materials including the water to be caught in the tub. This process was slower since I manually moved the water with the use of a plastic container.
Both techniques regarding water mentioned above could be used in the field. Where water was scarce it could be retrieved from a small stream using an appropriate container and process the material over a large plastic tub to catch the water. Also, I envisioned how I could utilize a long hose, stretch it upstream in the water and allow gravity and the stream action to cause a flow of water down the hose to the Mineral Master system.
CONCLUSION:
The Mineral Master is a rather unique system that can be a valuable asset to the recreational gold prospector who wants to process more material faster than a gold pan, and who doesn't have a lot of money or time to invest in and set up long sluice boxes or dredges.
With the Mineral Master, a person can quickly process a lot of sand, especially by using the Mineral Master for rough processing of material that can be further processed at home when time permits.
Priced at $50.00, the Mineral Master is both reasonable and practical. More importantly, it takes little effort to learn how to properly use this instrument. Because it does the work of separating the gold and the sand for you, it eliminates losses due to bad habits that are easily learned while panning.
I recommend anybody who loves recreational prospecting to take a serious look at the Mineral Master and see how it can help you.
For more information about the Mineral Master you can contact: Mineral Master, P.O. Box 1424, Forest Park, Georgia 30051.



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