Modern Prospecting – The Secrets of Reclaiming Gold from Old Mines and Prospectors’ Claims

The idea of extracting new gold from an old gold mine or gold claim is appealing, for several reasons.

  • First, you have a better chance of finding gold than you would if you went prospecting on your own for new locations, because you have some assurance that gold can be found in those once-productive locations. With some research into state, business and tax records (such as the tax returns from the company that once operated the site), you can sometimes verify how much gold came from them, and when. 
  • Second, you might be able to use the latest technologies and equipment to extract gold that might have been left behind 40, 50 or even 100 years ago. You bring in new equipment and find an undiscovered vein of pure 24 karat gold – at least, that is the dream.
Is there undiscovered gold hiding in this abandoned mine, waiting to be extracted by modern technology...and you? Credit: EyeMark/iStock.

Is there undiscovered gold hiding in this abandoned mine, waiting to be extracted by modern technology...and you? Credit: EyeMark/iStock.

Assessing the Risks

Reopening operations at an old mine or claim is a strategy that doesn’t guarantee profits. There is a pretty good chance that an old gold claim (state-issued rights to prospect or mine gold in a designated area) failed to produce a lot of gold; that is why it has become available now. If you’re considering an old mine, there is also a strong likelihood that all the gold has been extracted from it.

Then there is the fact that you need the services of an experienced attorney to help you negotiate the transfer of the claim to you or to purchase an old site. That costs money – money that in some cases you might not recoup when you reopen the site or the mine and start to look for gold. (There are certainly safer ways to make money in gold– like recycling your gold scrap with us!)

With Those Warnings Aside…

Despite those cautions, the fact remains that taking over an old site is extremely appealing. We recently reviewed some of the listings on, one of the websites that lists gold mining claims that are for sale.

Here’s a summary of some of the available claims that are listed:

  • A group of old claims for sale near Nome, Alaska. The listing claims that many of them have never been worked with modern equipment. If you buy, you get a packet of maps and other information. No price is listed.
  • An old mining camp located 123 miles from Anchorage on Alfred Creek. It comes with six buildings and even an airstrip. The asking price is $200,000.
  • An operating mining claim of 80 acres, located two miles from Chicken, Alaska, on the Fortymile River. It includes a workshop, a mobile home and other amenities. The asking price is $500,000.

Other Opportunities to Start Mining and Prospecting

If you’re not ready to buy a mine or claim on your own, you have other options to get started as a modern gold miner. You can buy or lease rights to work a claim area or mine, for example. Plus, if you do some poking around online, you will find that some people who own mines or claims are looking for partners; in those cases, you will have to invest money to get started.

Are these options sure to make money? Not at all, and here at Gold, we urge caution. But if the idea of becoming a modern-day gold miner or prospector appeals to you – it is pretty Romanic, right? – it is worth fantasizing about. And maybe even doing.

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