Moore Creek Nugget Map Updated


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Hi,

I've updated the nugget map at http://www.moorecreek.com/where_to_find_gold.htm

The map is not complete, as I simply do not know where a lot of the nuggets found the last two years came from. But I have enough finds mapped to give a person a good idea of where the hotter areas have been so far. Also note that the locations are only approximate and not at the exact spot pointed at. More like within 100 feet or so. It is not as if 10 nuggets all came from one spot but from the general area pointed at.

Steve Herschbach

Moore Creek Mining LLC

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I considered making a trip up this year but just couldnt swing being away from work during that time. I have a question though that seems pretty obvious so maybe its been answered prior and I just missed it. If so then please point me to the thread.

Why not do some pushes of the tailing piles? I would think that a new pile getting pushed each year would vastly increase reservations even at a much higher cost.

Thanks...

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Hi Lotsa Luck,

Well, I did mention at http://www.nuggethunting.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=2873 that we just extended the runway to 3000 feet. In the process at least six large tailing piles were flattened and spread out.

The question is a good one, though. I'm going to give an overly long answer. The main reason is that I try to not make promises I may not be able to keep. The dozer is a 1953 era unit, just brought back to life at great expense. The sole reason for getting it running was to do the runway repair, and despite the $40,000.00 in repairs there was no promise that it would last long enough to do even that amount of work. But it was a pretty good bet, and one it appears we won.

But the unit still has a finite life. Main problem right now is a very weak set of tracks. And so I must carefully pick and choose what I do with the dozer, knowing that it could suffer an expensive failure at any time. And in the process be out of commission for an undetermined amount of time. So long story short is that I do not want you or others to sign up for Moore Creek on a promise from me that I will be doing lots of tailing pushing, as the dozer could break down, and I'd not be able to make it happen.

Secondary to that is we are simply not charging enough given the cost of repairs, fuel cost at the mine, etc. to make running the dozer constantly a good bet. Fuel alone at the mine runs over $1000 a day for the dozer if we run it all day, due to the cost of flying fuel to the mine. For anything more than the most limited of use we'd have to boost the cost to the visitors.

Another issue is that at Ganes Creek they are on patented mining claims - private property. They can just pretty much do as they please. I am on State mining claims, and every acre must be reclaimed. I got a permit to make the runway longer, and so in the process some tailings got flattened. But believe it or not old tailing piles are treated as virgin ground for reclamation purposes, and so any flattening exceeding 5 acres would require bonding and reclamation. Not a huge deal per se, but it is not as easy as just firing up the dozer and going crazy!

The exception is maintaining existing roads and trails, and Moore Creek has a maze of existing roads and trails. One thing I will be doing is clearing the old road system, and as the roads are made of tailings these cleared roads will be good detecting areas. I plan on doing the work this fall so early visitors next summer will benefit from that work, plus continued trimming of the runway, which is not done yet. You are talking several miles of road, and so the area we are talking about is substantial. Many of the largest nuggets found at Moore Creek have been found in the old roads running along the base of the tailing piles.

There may be a very limited amount of tailing pushing in the piles right near camp, but I will only trim a foot off the tops. They get a bit carried away at Ganes Creek, not realizing you do not need to do more than shave a foot off to expose more nuggets, if any exist deeper in the pile.

But again, I simply do not want to be held to any promise of using the dozer to directly help the nugget hunters. There are still plenty of nuggets to be found by determined detectorists. You do not detect out an area 2 miles long by over a half mile wide quite so easily, especially not given the terrain at Moore Creek. And the fact is that half the people who visited this year were more interested in dredging and highbanking than detecting. In the long run we do not feel that the nuggets depleting out will affect the number of people who visit. The type of person will just shift over from Ganes Creek type nugget hunters over to GPAA Nome type diggers. And as we are cutting back on available bookings I'm not looking to vastly increase reservations anyway. Quite the opposite.

I already have people from this year and last saying they want to visit again. That really is all we are doing; accommodating demand. But at any time people seem to not be interested in returning that is perfectly fine by us. We are not trying to sell Moore Creek to people per se. It simply is what it is, and if people want to visit a neat part of remote Alaska and have a shot at some gold I think we have a pretty nice deal going. I'm glad we made the place available, and it has helped with the cash flow. But we are not making our living doing this so at any point in time interest seems lacking we will just wrap up the pay-to-mine portion of the operation. A big reason we cut back next years is 8 weeks just was too tiring. It actually needs to be halfway fun for us also, and so cutting back to four weeks from eight seemed the best way to keep it fun for all. Eight weeks was starting to feel too much like work compared to the three weeks last year. But there is also some potential for other camp requirements related to the serious mining and exploration portion of the operation next summer so we wanted to keep our options a bit more open for next year.

All of which goes to explaining why pushing tailings for detecting to extend the life of the pay-to-mine portion of the operation is not a big priority for us at this time.

And one last thing. Esthetics. I sure am glad I got to wander around Ganes Creek before it became the world's largest football field. The old workings have real character, and once you flatten them out they are gone forever. I personally really enjoy wandering around the old workings just the way the old timers left them. When I went to Ganes last I found hunting a dozer push to be less fun. Simply a mechanical sort of thing. Get out in the middle of that big flat area and swing away. Sure, it is harder detecting in the wild, but I enjoy the challenge and the terrain more.

So out of all my partners I have been the one most resistant to the idea of flattening the place out solely for the purpose of metal detecting. I may sound like a nut here, but frankly I think it would kind of ruin the place!

Steve Herschbach

Moore Creek Mining LLC

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Steve,

Yeah the equipment issue is understandably important in order to maintain access alone. The runway should be a primary maintenance goal. The fuel costs to spread a foot or two off the top of a pile with even a tiny dozer is miniscule though. Flying in fuel does have to be expensive but a sole gallon of fuel would knock the crap out of a tailing pile. If you are wishing to simply offer an out of the way detecting local for guy's wishing to visit AK, then what you are doing is just fine. If you are looking to go for the "American way" then it would seem you are not utilizing your available hardware to it's fullest extent.

Are you saying that the current state of reclaimation demands the obvious tailing piles are natural and to remove them would require bonding? Thats simply unreal and no U.S. court would uphold the ruling. It sure seems you, the paying detectorist, AND THE GOV (public) would "benifit" by proper reclaimation of these "eyesore" tailing piles. To do so would be a benifit to the environment, not to mention, the company. Spin it right and its a win, win for all.

Good luck out there....

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Hi Lotsa Luck,

Well, like I said, it may well be some tailings get spread around. The key point I'm making is I'm not going to promise it. I can assure you that using the dozer in support of our exploration activities with Full Metal Mining is a more important utilization of my hardware at this time than pushing around tailing piles. The pay-to-mine thing is a minor sideline compared to either making a major hardrock discovery or proceeding towards full scale placer operations.

Just because a person remines old tailings does not relieve that person of reclamation or bonding requirements. Otherwise what would keep a person from remining an old tailing area and making it even more of a mess than when they started? My mining plan for Moore Creek would be just as you have described, but any disturbance exceeding a cumulative 5 acres must be bonded, whether it is old tailings or virgin ground, and reclamation performed at the risk of losing the bond. Personally, I have no issue with that and can easily deal with it as part of a mining plan. I just mentioned it in passing to let you know you just don't hop on a dozer and plow away on state land without having other issues to deal with. If you really are interested you can find the rules I live by at http://www.dnr.state.ak.us/mlw/mining/2004Reg_book.pdf

Hope I have not turned you off on Moore Creek but if so I understand. There certainly are other places to go. All I can tell you is we are already signing folks up for 2007 to Moore Creek that were there in 2005 and 2006, and so we must be doing something that at least a few folks like. And I'm content to leave it at that for now. I think the flattening of the runway piles and a few miles of newly scraped road surfaces will keep the visitors busy next season.

Steve Herschbach

Moore Creek Mining LLC

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Just because a person remines old tailings does not relieve that person of reclamation or bonding requirements. Otherwise what would keep a person from remining an old tailing area and making it even more of a mess than when they started? My mining plan for Moore Creek would be just as you have described, but any disturbance exceeding a cumulative 5 acres must be bonded, whether it is old tailings or virgin ground, and reclamation performed at the risk of losing the bond. Personally, I have no issue with that and can easily deal with it as part of a mining plan. I just mentioned it in passing to let you know you just don't hop on a dozer and plow away on state land without having other issues to deal with.

Hope I have not turned you off on Moore Creek but if so I understand. There certainly are other places to go. All I can tell you is we are already signing folks up for 2007 to Moore Creek that were there in 2005 and 2006, and so we must be doing something that at least a few folks like. And I'm content to leave it at that for now.

Steve Herschbach

Moore Creek Mining LLC

Steve, I hope my questions for discussion did not strike a nerve. I know all to well about bonding et al... I mean your operation no harm and see that overall it is productive. I was just trying to clarify the why and why nots. AK is one of the few locals left on my "must do before dirt napping" list and I'll get there next year for certain. Be that what it may, if you were to say "for each new set of detectorists" coming here we will burn 5 gallons of fuel reclaiming some odd tailing pile, you could triple your price and still fill the bunks. Yeah its nothing in comparison to the potential of the hard rock strike, but its hard currency in the hand toward operational costs.

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the feds have almost as many rules as the IRS, yet one ranger doesn't know which rule is the one that should be followed.

Perhaps the best thing going is that you are mining using gravity, and not much else in order to get the gold. It's not like you are cyaniding or using other chemicals, or loads of mercury like in times past, and that may be the reason for the hassle of reworking the old pile as the previous set of miners may have used a lot of mercury that would now be set free with the re-over.

While the lot of us are a lot more environmentally oriented, the feds have to run a tight ship over all, as a few scalliwags are out there, and a sense of responsibility is not at all in their genes.

The second thing may be the use of 'customary' diesel fuel, rather than restaurant oil, or vegetable oil. Th efeds have had a few lawsuits over past federal worker exposure to diesel fumes and unused diesel fuel. Maybe what you need to develop is a popular greasy spoon in addition to your mining venture (ha ha ha), so that all your tractors work out like a Von's bakery where all the odors are piped into the a/c and everybody in the place starts getting hungry(er). I mean, your blade putting out Bacon fumes, is going to be calling every sam and bill to come over for chow. Maybe you could work out a partner deal with some already established chow joint, to use some of their drippings, in exchange for funneling hungry miners to their door.

It'd be a vicious cycle, what with everybody wanting to eat more, because you are using up the drippings. With so many fat henrys running around, maybe the drippings would end up more than you could use or process in your equioment. Hell, maybe you'd even have the feds eating out of your hand and spoon. With a full stomach, many people are a lot more agreeable and easy to set a deal...

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Hi Lotsa Luck,

No nerves here! Communicating on the net sometimes makes it seem so. It is tough to tell exactly what people are meaning when you don't get to see faces. And the demands of typing makes some statements seem kind of "short", if you know what I mean.

I don't see as we'd be able to triple our price and still fill bunks. Ganes Creek is 30 miles away, and pretty much does what you are describing for $2500 a week. They run a good show with good gold, so why pay more to go to Moore Creek? At most we could charge the same.

Maybe when I get a smaller, newer unit on site I can promise to move tailings for people. But for now the minute I make taht promise, the track breaks on the D9, and then you are mad I did not push tailings the week you are there. As long as I have a low confidence factor in the dozer I cannot make those kinds of promises. I'd rather surprise people by doing something extra than set myself up to disappoint them. When the dozer failed early in 2005 it sat dead for over a year before I got it going again. If I only get X hours before it suffers another major failure then I must be choosy about what it does. After all the critical work is completed I'll be less inclined to worry. That is really all there is to it.

Really, no matter what you do, make that Alaska visit. I can't promise you will find gold, but you sure will find adventure. I'm sure lucky to have been born here!!

Steve H

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No nerves here! Communicating on the net sometimes makes it seem so. It is tough to tell exactly what people are meaning when you don't get to see faces. And the demands of typing makes some statements seem kind of "short", if you know what I mean.

I don't see as we'd be able to triple our price and still fill bunks. Ganes Creek is 30 miles away, and pretty much does what you are describing for $2500 a week.

I'd rather surprise people by doing something extra than set myself up to disappoint them. That really is all there is to it. When the dozer failed early in 2005 it sat dead for over a year before I got it going again. If I only get X hours before it suffers another major failure then I must be choosy about what it does. After all the critical work is completed I'll be less inclined to worry. That is really all there is to it.

Yes, facial expression is definatly lost on the web...LOL

I think you are wrong though on the additional charges for a push. I know it went into my thinking when I was considering the trip up this year. IMO if the track broke, I would have simply offerred my help in fixing it and chaulked it up to the adventure. Would have welded or jury rigged it and moved on. I charter a long range boat each year for a 10 day tuna trip and last year had to help pull the anchor by hand due to a major hydraulic failure. Never thought twice about it and caught the crap out of huge tuna anyway. In a way, it made the trip for us. Thats part of an adventure and makes it a "memory". BTW with most heavy equipments the more often its used the more dependable it becomes. Sitting idle equates to death. Just a thought, I know the local makes it impossible to go year round.

I hope to meet you someday, and thanks for the discussion.

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Hey whats4supper,

It really is no problem mining in most of Alaska. Yeah, we need permits and bonds and whatever. I have a file drawer full of them. But so what? It's just business and if you are in business you have stuff to deal with.

The state of Alaska is great to work with. I really have little to do with the Feds. I have an EPA permit and a Corps permits, but they are no big deal to get. I had folks from the state visit a few weeks back and inspect our operation, and there were no complaints voiced. We go to great lengths to run a clean operation.

Steve H

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Steve;

I am on your side regarding the tailing piles...leave them be. First I enjoyed seeing the place as it was left from a historical view. Second working behind a dozer would be like catching stocked trout or planted birds, not my thing. Third there will always be a problem of fairness; who gets to work the flattened areas first?

Areas like camp, the runway and the roads are necessarily graded but leave the rest rough and wild, it gives the hunt a sharp edge.

Fred

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Hi Fred,

moore1.jpg

Yeah, I am fond of the place as is, so no big hurry on my part. And I've been to Ganes and watched the dozers. Ten people with detectors can cover quite a bit of newly flattened ground. Doug has to run dozers almost constantly to keep people happy. They just blast over the newly dozed ground quick and dirty in a short time, and then want more ground. From what I've seen methodical detectorists are a rare breed.

If I have to mess up the tailings, my best bet is to leave them nice and stacked, and then run them at a rate of about 1000 yards a day through a good washplant! The more we test, the more amazed I am by the amount of gold they lost the first time around. The nuggets are no big deal compared to the large amount of small gold that keeps turning up wherever we test. Our tailings are richer than many miners virgin ground.

Steve H

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Historically, that has been the problem: people want the best and richest and get out, rather than work the ground in a methodical and systematic way to recover all of the values.

Mechanical wise, Alaska has always presented a stone wall to any sort of mining operation, as logistics to get adequate equipment to the actual site, and then work under optimum conditions, are odds stacked against any miner or operation. Though the first run piles of waste are there, everything you stated about equipment failures and maintenance, mean that to run the piles again will be almost as costly to you as it was to the previous venture. The chance of winning out however, are more in your favor as recovery means work out more to the advantage of the modern joe, especially if there is a methodical plan and greed is placed to the side.

Unfortunately, the lake pictured would change and anything using it as a home (under the current water habitat conditions), would pretty much be a casualty. About the only thing you could do is mitigate the problem by consulting with fish and game people to create a depression in the neighborhood, in order to establish new habitat at some future time, after the mine works out of ore in one area. Its not realistic to think one could just transport the contents of one pond into another, as the water used in the operation will either be vastly more silty, or too clean for the transplanted 'users'.

I think it very fortunate that people like Steve and Fred think in the terms they are, because this shows responsibility. However, mining is ugly, but to get the goods, one has to scar an area, as gold is placed where it is, and that is where one has to dig in order to recover it. It is also man against the weather, and bugs against man.

Tourism is tricky because you certainly could use the 'investment' from group outings, but the payoff drains the very cash flow you need to make the operation otherwise work out. Perhaps you should offer a working vacation package where people come to work for a month or so, and out of five days at work, have a couple of days 'off' for personal quests. You could have a raffle or drawing everyday or week where some body could get a nice prize, and other things to keep the working stiffs interested. Your biggest challenge would be to figure out a payoff, and how to divide up (if at all) part of the take. I think the effort to work the gold mine will appeal more, as well as downtime dredge time and off-work detecting. This would make your operation a little more seamless and add to the cash flow.

Besides there are people who are expert welders, operators, carpenters, and all that have the stamina to keep the operation going, that would want to work as a 'guest' provided there is some sort of medical care for minor mishaps. You'd have to investigate and draw up a suitable contract and liability waiver. If it doesn't work out, next year go back to the way it was, or something.

There is a high probability that most tailing piles of the past century and earlier 20th century ventures have more gold than what the originals ever got out on the first run. If there are adjacent accessible areas to get some equipment in, what have you got to lose?

Hope I am not sticking my nose in the wrong place by expressing my opinion. First and foremost, ONLY STEVE H can direct the game plan

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Hi whats4supper,

Good thoughts all. I really do enjoy people tossing out ideas of any sort.

Everyone of course has ideas of how they might proceed. I really do have a plan myself. All I can say is everything is proceeding as planned and as well or better than I had hoped when I got the mine in 2003. We have options to take the pay-to-mine to a much higher level if we wish, good solid placer prospects, and a hardrock exploration program that could trump it all. 2007 will be an interesting year!

Interesting thing about that scenic lake. It ia a mining cut surrounded by tailing piles. Nothing in the picture is virgin undisturbed ground. There was no reclamation. But the beavers dammed up the cut, a pond formed, and trees grew on the tailing piles. I think it is a very pretty little scene. Mother nature is resiliant and with just a little help there is no reason why a placer mining operation cannot leave parklands behind.

Steve H

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