1. Thank you for visiting HeavyEquipmentForums.com! Our objective is to provide industry professionals a place to gather to exchange questions, answers and ideas. We welcome you to register using the "Register" icon at the top of the page. We'd appreciate any help you can offer in spreading the word of our new site. The more members that join, the bigger resource for all to enjoy. Thank you!
  2. ALL NEW MEMBERS READ THIS FIRST!! Thank you for joining Heavy Equipment Forums! If you are new to forums we communicate with "Threads", please search our threads to see if your topic may have already been answered and if not then click "Post New Thread" in the appropriate forum. This will allow all of our members to see your question and give you the best chance to be answered. After you've made a number of posts you will graduate to Full Member status where you'll see a few more privileges. Following these guidelines will help make this the best resource for heavy equipment on the net. Thanks for joining us and I hope you enjoy your stay!!

Alaska Gold Blues

Discussion in 'Mining/Aggregates' started by firebird_ak, May 27, 2013.

  1. firebird_ak

    firebird_ak Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    alaska
    Dad and I have a small gold mine at a remote location. We are excavating a buried stream channel around 75 to 100 feet wide. There is anywhere from 1 to 12 ft of black dirt overburden covered by 2 to 5 in trees. We have done a lot of work using an old jd350 but it keeps falling apart. It's time for a new plan. We have been thinking a 120 size excavator working with a 420 or equivalent backhoe to get the pay gravel exposed, mined, and through the washplant. Because the site is remote and our success depends on the health of the equipment we are looking at something with around 2,000 hours or less. We are planning for next year, but would like to get the backhoe this year to start clearing the overburden and getting a head start on production (hopefully a couple thousand yards) to help pay for the excavator. The black dirt is very easy to dig (the trees are thick but shallow and need to be moved independently of the dirt) but the stream gravel is much harder packed, although the jd350 didn't have any problem in the pay.

    I wonder if the backhoe will be an asset out there and what it is capable of accomplishing as a one machine operation.

    Any idea is worth considering because if we can make it pay then we can afford it.
     

    Attached Files:

    • 020.jpg
      020.jpg
      File size:
      66.7 KB
      Views:
      3,184
    • 049.jpg
      049.jpg
      File size:
      40.2 KB
      Views:
      3,171
    • 053.jpg
      053.jpg
      File size:
      59 KB
      Views:
      3,152
    • 054.jpg
      054.jpg
      File size:
      65 KB
      Views:
      3,144
  2. robin yates uk

    robin yates uk Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2011
    Messages:
    643
    Location:
    philippines
    very interesting post from Alaska.How do you know where the gold is? Or do you just mine the river gravel and extract from there ?
     
  3. dirtmonkey

    dirtmonkey Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2009
    Messages:
    342
    Occupation:
    dozer monkey , self employed
    Location:
    norman oklahoma
    Looks like you need new teeth on your track loader. Welcome to the forum !:drinkup
     
  4. CM1995

    CM1995 Administrator

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2007
    Messages:
    11,557
    Occupation:
    Running what I brung and taking what I win
    Location:
    Alabama
    How far do you have to take the material to the wash plant? A backhoe is not the best earth toter if you have to carry any distance. Depending on underfoot conditions and distance you may want to look at a wheel loader or dump truck to transport the material.

    What kind of production rates are you shooting for, tonnage wise per day? How far is the wash plant from the pit? Do you have to reclaim your site once you are finished?
     
  5. Delmer

    Delmer Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2013
    Messages:
    7,876
    Location:
    WI
    I would be thinking about a wheel loader. But then I don't touch anything with less than 2,000 hours on it.
     
  6. Oxbow

    Oxbow Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2012
    Messages:
    883
    Location:
    Idaho
    It would appear to me that an excavator (with a hydraulic progressive link thumb) and a loader might be your best bet. CM's questions are important, as the haul distance is a critical component to the decision, but a mid to small size loader can pack a lot of material if the distance is close as well as support the wash plant.

    In my opinion backhoes are great if you don't have the right tool for the job. The excavator with thumb will help tremendously with the tree removal and keeping things sorted and neat. If you are able to side cast your overburden, or excavate in strips so that you are placing your overburden on a previously exhausted ore excavation you may find that your earthmoving cost goes down considerably.
     
  7. firebird_ak

    firebird_ak Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    alaska
    Thank you for all the replies! There is about a half pennyweight per yard of gold in all of the stream gravel with some pockets having the majority of the ounces. The jd350 has done a lot of work for us in the short amount of time we have kept it together, but right now it spins in circles. I think it needs a steering clutch which I would like to try to fix someday. The gravel will need to be transported about 100 to 300 feet depending on when we move the plant and the pond (see aerial picture). As far as production rates, so far we have only used a simple bulk sampling setup. This time we will need more volume, but not too much since it is only a small deposit. I think 50 yards a day would be reasonable with 100 yards a day being much better. (about 130 tons). 80 yards an hour is common for many washplants, but I'm not sure we could produce gravel that fast.
    We do have to reclaim by pushing the overburden back. The area between the red lines on the aerial photo is approx where the stream bed lies and it continues on in the direction of the arrow. The washplant would be setup near the pond to recirculate water.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. firebird_ak

    firebird_ak Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    alaska
    Alaska Gold Blues part 2

    I posted a thread with the same name in the backhoe forum and thought I had better post here as well. My dad and I have a small remote placer operation that we prospected by hand and now would like to get a little more serious about mining it. We lack well rounded experience with equipment other than a hand shovel ( i can tell you all about those). Our hope was to develop an equipment plan that could be implemented in stages as production increased to keep the yearly budget low. It would be nice to buy only one piece of equipment this year to work a couple months and get set up to really hit it hard next summer with the second piece added. Here is the link to the other thread, please take a look.

    https://www.heavyequipmentforums.com/showthread.php?36230-Alaska-Gold-Blues

    For now, I'll be searching past threads for advise on buying quality used excavators because we don't have access to a shop and will buy tools only as needed. Thank you for your time.
     

    Attached Files:

  9. Steve Frazier

    Steve Frazier Founder Staff Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2003
    Messages:
    6,358
    Location:
    LaGrangeville, N.Y.
    I've merged your two threads to the mining forum. Please keep all your posts regarding this operation within this thread, it will help with continuity. Thanks.
     
  10. firebird_ak

    firebird_ak Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    alaska
    The reason I posted in the backhoe forum is because I was looking for specific advise about a backhoe as an asset under specific conditions. Then when I considered a hoe i posted in the excavator forum. I didn't post in the mining forum because ours is hardly the scale of operation I would expect to have any relevance in a professional mining forum. The readers of the backhoe forum are many and I thought we had a good thread going.
     
  11. stumpjumper83

    stumpjumper83 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
    Messages:
    1,961
    Occupation:
    Movin dirt
    Location:
    Port Allegany, pa
    A 120 sized excavator, and a stacker might work for all but the reclamation. A 2.5 yd wheel loader would work well for everything but clearing, and with a rake could handle that as well, but if the overburden is soft, you will be in trouble, but your running a narrow pad trackloader now so you should be ok.

    As far as your trackloader goes, I think you have a bigger problem that clutches, when a clutch goes you can no longer turn in that direction. For instance if the right clutch goes to turn right you must hold the left clutch and back up. Your problems if it will only turn in a circle would probably mean final drive trouble...
     
  12. firebird_ak

    firebird_ak Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    alaska
    Wow, thanks Stumpjumper. One side of the jd350 just doesn't have power at all. It seemed to happen all at once, one day after being stuck pretty good in the mud. We still managed to spin circles and run much of that pay pile shown in 2 of the above photos. Any guesses on how many cubic yards that pile might be?
     
  13. Oxbow

    Oxbow Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2012
    Messages:
    883
    Location:
    Idaho
    I posted this once but have no idea where it went.:confused:

    Anyway, My best SWAG method on the quantity would be about 600 to 700 cubic yards.

    If you and your Dad can muster up the money for a used 120 to 160 sixed excavator and smaller loader like stumpjumper suggested I think that, with a bit of planning, you will be amazed at how much material you can move. Try to figure out how to move your overburden as short as distance as possible. For example, if you move your overburden to the side, excavate the ore, then place your tailings back in the ore slot, then place the next overburden on top of that, you might get by just fine. Once you have it opened up enough you could haul ore to the plant and tailings back staying loaded both ways.

    The picture in post #8 scares me, as many of people have died due to sloughing in holes and trenches much shallower than that. It appears that you dug that by hand (bravo) and I realize the desire to move as little as possible in your exploration, but please be careful.

    An excavator would also be incredibly valuable for exploration holes and planning where you want to mine.

    I am not a miner but I am sure others can give you some great advice in that regard, but the most cost-effective way to accomplish what you want on a budget would seem to me to be the loader/excavator combination.

    Good Luck!
     
  14. firebird_ak

    firebird_ak Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2013
    Messages:
    12
    Location:
    alaska
    We are still considering the backhoe for the first year followed by a second piece next year because of the price compared to a loader or crawler. The jd350 didn't have a problem scooping pay right out of the bank and a 3 year old cat 420 has to be able to do with its loader bucket what the '67 jd350 did, or better, right? And, the pads are so worn on the 350 that backhoe tires would prob grip the ground better! I keep thinking about what Oxbow said, "In my opinion backhoes are great if you don't have the right tool for the job." The right tool is pretty expensive (cat 953 and an excavator) but a backhoe has to be able to move the black dirt easy enough, and finish excavating the pond... How could it have less digging force with the loader than the 350? I have never run a backhoe...

    One website says a jd350C has breakout force of 12,100 lbs. Backhoes look like they have a breakout force of around 10,000lbs.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2013
  15. stumpjumper83

    stumpjumper83 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2007
    Messages:
    1,961
    Occupation:
    Movin dirt
    Location:
    Port Allegany, pa
    Track loaders were yesteryears mass excavators, if you wanted to dig a house basement, or load fill out they were the tool of choice. With a toothed bucket they will dig in almost any ground condition that an excavator today can, with the exception of really wet ground. To realize the potential of a trackloader you need to see or run a larger one. To the best of my knowledge the 350 deere was very close to the smallest commercial trackloader made, though they were the smallest but I think case made some tiny 310 loaders in the 60's. But if you want to see a dirt pig, go find a cat 977L, or even a 955, then you will see what trackloaders can really do.

    As far a backhoes go, the front bucket was more designed to be a counter weight for the hoe in early days, and to ferry materials around the job site. With an older backhoe, especially a 2wd edition, you would have to dig a pile loose with the hoe, then spin around and load / carry the loose dirt to where you needed it. The 4wd backhoes of today are much better, and all brands are not equal. In my opinion the best backhoe for front end loader work is a ford / new Holland hands down. If you could find a New Holland 115B, its the 4 equal sized tire model, you would be well served. Not that cat cant make a backhoe, cause they do, and they have an awesome cab on them, but them 115 new hollands are brutes.
     
  16. grandpa

    grandpa Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2009
    Messages:
    1,942
    Location:
    northern minnesota
    Sorry Oxbow,,, my guess would be not a lick over 300 yards,,,, take another look at the pile and the compare it to the 350 and we'll see if I can't jew you down a little....lol...... Grandpa
     
  17. Oxbow

    Oxbow Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2012
    Messages:
    883
    Location:
    Idaho
    You are probably closer than my guess Grandpa, I re-looked at the picture in post #1 and the length of the pile appears shorter than I originally guessed. So, 30' by 60' by 5' is probably more like it, hence a bit over 300 yds. is much closer. I stand correced. :notworthy Those cubic yards in Alaska are probably pretty similar N Minnesota yards eh? The pile is bigger in January than July! :D
     
  18. LT-x7

    LT-x7 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2007
    Messages:
    394
    Occupation:
    Earth Moving Contractor
    Location:
    Central COMMI-fornia
    If what your looking for just one machine to purchase and keep running I think you have the right idea with a backhoe. A backhoe never really seems like the ideal machine for any one specific task. But on the flip side if your patient it will do just about everything you need done. If your looking to excavate and skip material 300', 50-100 yards a days should be no problem with a semi modern backhoe.
    Is there any rental yards semi close to your site? Maybe you could rent a backhoe for the summer just to get you by. Then if you hit pay dirt pick up a ex and loader for next summer......

    On a side note I own a backhoe and have always been interested in gold mining in Alaska:D
     
  19. leisureexpress

    leisureexpress Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2010
    Messages:
    137
    Location:
    Utah
  20. Oxbow

    Oxbow Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2012
    Messages:
    883
    Location:
    Idaho