Beginning Mining

It's easier than you think

Get a claim, ignore advice and find gold

So with the new year you're thinking, "You know, I think I'd like to try some of that gold mining stuff this year."

Every day people are out there finding gold. From Newmont Mining in Nevada, to the one man mine in Sierra County, there's still a lot of gold there. Don't believe us? Just look at the pictures down below, or take a quick side trip to our Gold for Sale page. That's all gold we've found on our claims.

How to Get Started

OK, so here's the most obvious statement of the year (but check back, because the year is still young) - if you want to find gold, find a place where you can find gold. It doesn't matter what type of prospecting or mining you plan on doing, if there's no gold there you're going to get skunked. You can spend $100,000 on the best metal detector ever made, but if that coil doesn't run over a piece of gold you'll go home with empty pockets.

Some may say the best way to get started is to join a club. After all it must be complicated to get a mining claim, learn how to use equipment and actually find gold. Nope, not at all. Clubs serve a purpose. They can be good social organizations where you can meet like minded people and perhaps do a little prospecting, and some clubs will provide access to their claims for a fee, but what's the point when you can get your own mining claim?"

If you want good gold - then find a claim which has the potential for good gold. It's unlikely you're going to find good gold on a well beaten claim.

OK, so let's review - what's the most important thing you require to find gold?

You must have a chunk of ground with gold, in order to find gold.

Where to Find Gold

That's easy - everywhere. No really, if you're in the motherlode of California there's gold just about everywhere. There's a whole lot of places in Idaho and Nevada with gold. There's even some places in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, Missouri - well, you get the idea, but if you want to see where gold has been found then check out our Mega Map.

Did you check it out? If not here's a quick shot of where gold has been found in the U.S.


Now don't get distracted and start checking out the map for diamonds, rubies and emeralds because we're talking gold here, and what are you going to do with a bunch of shiny gemstones anyways? If you were playing around with the layers on the map you may nave noticed what the smart guys call a high degree of correlation between silver, copper, platinum and gold. Hmm.

Let's get down to the nuts and bolts - where do I get a mining claim? That depends on you, but in our opinion the motherlode of California is a great place to find gold. Unfortunately you'll never run a real mine in California, if you're looking to start a real mine, then look outside of California.

The mega map is a big overview based on data from the USGS Mine Resource Data System (MRDS), we just downloaded all the data, eliminated a bunch of junk, and plotted it in a much cleaner map. Now if you're wondering about more details you can check out an example of the type of information we produce by looking at our FREE map of Monterey County. If you look at the map you'll see where the active claims are, historic abandoned claims which are available for claiming - some of them, and claims which were forfeited last year. We're providing this map as an example of the type of data we maintain for all the counties, and most of the western states. If you're interested in the Monterey county area you can use the map to point you towards the gold deposits and perhaps stake your own claim in Big Sur overlooking the Pacific Ocean. If you can't find any gold at least you'd have a great view.

Mining Claims: Find or Buy?

There's two ways to get a mining claim, either you go out and pound a stake in the ground yourself, or you buy one somebody has for sale. I know, I know, the so-called experts will be wringing their hands with all the exceptions to the simple statement, but don't worry about them, we'll let them go back to dispensing wise advice on the forums - we're trying to tell you how to get started.

Staking your own claim is usually the preferred route. Right now in California that will cost you about $330 after you do the county filing and the BLM filing - but it's your own claim. In Nevada, which doesn't fund their homeless population on the backs of miners like California, you can stake a claim for about $250. Where should you stake a claim? Check out the mega map again. There's lots of area. Here at the Mining Alliance we will shamelessly tell you we can help with that task - for a price, but we're reasonable. We're also willing to sell you a claim, you can check out our claims for sale here, and we'd like to sell you one, but the reality is you can go stake one yourself.

If you're going to buy - please be careful. Not everyone with a claim for sale has a legal claim. There's more to it than pounding your stake in. We know of a place on the Yuba river, today, which was sold to some unsuspecting buyers and it was overfiled on top of an overfile. In other words someone claim jumped a legal claim, then someone claim jumped them and put it up for sale. The buyers think they have a legal claim - they don't. If you think that might be you - better check with the county recorder, then the local county court.



Research leads to legal mining claims. The county recorder is a great starting point, and one which a lot of guys who will sell you a claim ignore. They simply see a claim which is listed as closed on the BLM web site, then they file on it, put an ad on Craigs list and sell you a piece of junk. If you want to buy a legal claim do your own research. Look at BLM and make sure there's no other claims in the quarter section and also make sure the claim you're buying has been registered. If there are other claims then you must go to the county recorder, or pay someone like us (another shameless attempt at business) to go to the recorder and pull the location documents. We've done several articles on staking or buying a legal claim and you can find them on our articles page.

How Much Gold Can I Get?

How hard are you willing to work? There's stories, and we have some on our articles page, of people finding hundreds of ounces. It happens, but a lot of the stories you hear, or read about, happened in the 1980's. When we're sitting around the campfire and we want to tell a yarn about good gold we always start off with "It was back in the '80s and I was dredging the ...". There's still good gold out there, just look at the pictures, and look at our gold for sale page (see link above - another attempt at making a buck). If you want the chance to find really good gold then get a lode mine (hardrock). If you want the chance to find a good nugget then get a metal detector because a lot of the creeks have been hammered by previous dredgers - look above the water for good gold.

Beware of Experts

Everyone is an expert. Just go check out the forums, everyone is an expert on mining law, on equipment, on hard rock mines, on dredging, high bankers, prospecting and on and on. They may very well be experts, but ask yourself this question - who produces more gold - Newmont Mining or some expert on a forum. Why is that? Because the dudes at Newmont are out in the field working, not posting quips on a forum. It's good advice to ignore advice, except our advice, which is good advice - make sense?

There's an awful lot of information on the internet, and some of it is really good. One of the better, and most entertaining is Jeff Williams. He has a ton of videos where he confirms the stereotype of the crazy miner, while at the same time teaching you some good stuff (no, we don't make any kind of link money from this). There's also some good links on our Links page, and we add more as we find them. Teach yourself and use the resources on the internet, but not for evil.

What Equipment Do I need?

All of it. Just go ahead and get it out of the way and buy everything you can, even if you don't need it. That's where we all end up anyways so save some time and do it. That way you only have one big argument with the wife (or husband - see we're becoming politically correct) and its over.

Allright, if you want to buy one, single piece of equipment for all-around terrain and gold finding it would be...wait for it...a metal detector.

What type? What do you think we are experts? There's more detectors out there than dead cats, you can check out Jeff Williams videos and see what he uses, in most of them he uses what I use - a Fisher Gold Bug II. But, don't take our advice. These guys with metal detectors can get as vicous as the Ford vs. Chevy people. Different detectors for different reasons but the Gold Bug is fairly cheap, finds small gold and is a great tool for checking out old mines, but it doesn't have any of the fancy gadgets and screens and read outs, you actually have to listen to it. If you use headphones you may want to buy a bluetooth transmitter and eliminate the cords - more expert advice there, and if you're following our previous advice - well, you're ignoring our advice - good job, you're halfway to being a miner.

Now What?

Get a mining claim. Or join a club with mining claims. Or go prospect on open land. Or pay us to send you a bunch of areas you can claim or prospect on (yeah, more subliminal advertising). However you do it find ground with gold.

Get a metal detector - about $800, and buy a gold pan - you can get one used for about $5. Then just head out to your claim and start hunting for gold. You'll dig about a million square nails to every piece of gold, but don't keep the nails, BLM says their artifacts and they'll fine you a bunch of money, more money than the nail is worth that's for sure.

Along the way you'll join the rest of us who spend our summers (fall, winter, spring) out hunting for gold. Sometimes finding it, often times not, but you'll find what the rest of us have found, there's no where else we'd rather be, and that includes that crummy little cubicle you have to report to just to pay the rent.

Get a claim, ignore advice, go have fun and don't worry about the experts.

You can always contact us at and for some money we'll provide good advice (not the bad advice you can get everywhere else). If you want to talk to a real human being (or a reasonable imitiation of one) you can check out our Contact page and click on the "Contact Us" button and you can find a phone number to talk to a real person.