is where you smell it??
About mid-summer of 1961 the mining company for which I was working sent me as a summer
geology student along as an assistant to one Bill Mundle, more recently of
Maritime Diamond Drilling fame, to map a property that had been
optioned a couple months earlier from a local prospector and his partners. The property was situated
present investigation had been initiated as a result of assays of a couple grab
samples the prospector and his assistant of Aboriginal extraction had managed to
collect from the edge of an outcrop by a small pothole lake. According to the
prospector, he had focused on this particular site because his Indian assistant
had smelled gold in that location. The four assays had ranged between trace and
about 0.24 oz/ton (which is worthy of follow-up) and the sample location had been subject to a plugger and a
few sticks of dynamite. The face of the small trench did not look very
interesting. It was without the presence of any quartz veins or silicification,
although there was a minor amount of disseminated and stringy carbonate present. There was
also a 4 inch zone containing numerous small pyrite cubes. Not really the stuff
gold mines are made of, but we sampled the trench thoroughly and went on to
investigate the rest of the six claim group.
had last been worked in the ‘30’s and boasted some half dozen bedrock
trenches ranging up to 14 feet long 6 feet deep and 8 feet wide. I remember
being impressed with the size of the trenches and the labour that must have been
expended in their development. They had been sunk by hand on a quartz stringer system
which, even to our untrained eyes, looked ‘hungry’ for gold. Subsequent
assays proved this observation correct. We carried out detailed mapping and
sampling on the rest of the property and by noon on Friday were back at the
trench where the Indian had smelled the gold.
put the final touches on the field notes and maps, I found myself back in the
trench absent-mindedly working with the pick end of my rock hammer a slab of
semi-loose rock in a small 6 inch shear zone that was exposed in the trench
face. The loose rock was near the surface and in this location the shear had
accumulated considerable surface humus. After about 15 minutes of diligent work
I was rewarded with the dirty slab of rock. I set the slab aside on the edge of
the trench and proceeded to blow the humus off my left hand. My hand turned out
to be covered in fine-grained free gold!
pointed this new development out to Bill, and we simultaneously dove for the
slab of rock I had won from the shear zone. There on its surface, partly masked
by the humus, was some of the best leaf gold I have ever seen, the largest leaf
being about three quarters of an inch wide and curled like a ram’s horn. There
was evidence of other similar leaves but they had been damaged by the extraction
of the slab. We immediately set to work investigating the small shear in detail,
and sampling everything in sight. Adrenaline pumped hard for the rest of the day.
morning we delivered our samples to the mine assay office and awaited results
with anticipation. As expected, most of the samples from the property came back
trace. The samples from the little shear zone however came back in triple-digit
ounces per ton and we certainly had a property on our hands that required
further investigation. The guys in the assay office were not very pleased with
our efforts however. There had been so much free gold in some of our samples the
assay office facilities were salted for three days.
property was subjected to further prospecting that fall but no extension of our
“find” was uncovered. The location was extensively drilled four years later
and then dropped. To the best of my knowledge it has not been explored since.
remaining question is: “Did that prospector’s assistant really smell the gold??