It is fairly simple to (technically) stake a placer claim in the Yukon Territory. In fact all you need is:
1) To read the Staking Guide of the Yukon Mining Recorder (link)
2) To go out in the field and actually stake it (cut two trees, then mark properly the base-line, make sure you’re measuring the right distance between the two limits and check the dimension of your posts, according to the guide).
3) To record your claim at the closest Mining Recorder and pay the fee ($ 10).
End of story: in three steps you’re the owner of a placer gold claim!
It’s easy eh?
Unfortunately the Yukon is not the closest place to heaven and to stake a “good claim” (which means: a claim with gold on it) it takes a bit more than that. In order to become a successful prospector… :
- You will need to spend days (months) to learn the geography of this territory and the geology of the areas where you intend to concentrate your research.
- You will need to spend days (months) to search for historical information in the archives of a museum or in a library.
- You’ll need to read dozens of the ‘minfiles’ published by the Yukon Geological Service; search for old books and publications.
- You will have to spend hours of your precious time looking at maps.
- You will have to sit for days in front of a computer, with Google Earth on the screen, to analyze the morphology of those “potentially interesting valleys”. And then, as soon as you’ll choose an area that seems “to make sense” (at least to you), it’s already the time to jump on your old truck with your last friend (a dog) and drive into the wilderness to find that damned gold.
At first you will look for signs of old mining activity, to be sure that this is a proven area (don’t forget that the Yukon has been scouted by thousands of great prospectors). Then you will start to test the ground for traces of gold (which means: digging dozens of pits right to the bedrock and start panning in the freezing water of a creek).
- You will walk along swampy valleys, searching for shallow ground to test, just with a shovel.
- You will climb mountains and hillsides, looking for upper benches, the easiest to test.
- You will spend nights sleeping in a tent with an eye open, and an infinite number of days scratching the ground under the hottest sun you have ever experienced, or under the snow (sometimes both happen in the same day).
Then suddenly you will finally find, on the bottom of your pan, some flakes of gold that look good enough (or at least better than what you’ve found until this moment). GOLD!
…And you will stake your claim (quickly and always looking behind your back with the paranoia that somebody will stake “your” ground before you do it).
You made it!
After months, sometimes years, of blood and sweat; after hundreds of poor meals and after being yourself an excellent source of food for thousands of hungry mosquitoes and horseflies, now you have finally found that piece of ground that will (maybe) set you up for life.
You made it!
It was just about time: your bank account is way below zero and in town everybody is looking at you as if you’re a mental case.
Still, nothing matters anymore because your time has finally arrived.
…All you need now is to convince somebody to give you “just a few hundred thousand dollars” to buy the right equipment and go back to the mountain to get that gold.
You probably find this story very funny, it’s actually real: to stake a piece of good mineable ground, it takes very hard work, requires lots of experience, is an expensive and dangerous activity and the chances of failure are many.
The hard life of a prospector is the reason why every serious miner prefers to buy a ‘decent’ claim from one of these crazy characters instead of looking for ‘the great one’ himself.
This is the way that the mining business has always worked in the Yukon.
We are modern prospectors with a good geological background and many years of knowledge of this harsh territory. We apply the latest techniques to our research. Our work is to find and test the new ground for the placer mining industry…
(to be continued… )