As impressed as he is by the result of Jake’s vat leaching process, Parker Schnabel decides this complicated and dangerous method of mining isn’t for him, preferring the simplicity of digging dirt…
The team returned to the honeypot claim where leaseholders, Jake and Matt, were preparing for the next stage of the vat leach process. They had turned off all the pumps and flushed all the cyanide out, replacing it with fresh water. Their task was to remove the carbon tank, which contained all the gold, from the vat. The cyanide had dissolved all the fine gold in the tailings, creating a gold-rich liquid that could be pumped into a drum where microscopic specks bound to lumps of carbon. Though all traces of cyanide had been rinsed from the drum, Fred was taking extra precautions. Despite not knowing the cyanide levels, he felt it was not worth taking chances. The bonus was that there were no flies in his face. Removing the tank was going to be difficult since it had been manipulated to get it into the vat, but the team was ready to give it a go.
This was a crucial moment since all the gold was in the tank, and it would determine if the leach had worked and if the honeypot claim was a viable business. Jake was convinced that the final gold extraction would demonstrate to Parker how efficient leaching could be, although he admitted that he was not entirely comfortable with the cyanide process. Parker was quiet, indicating his nervousness as he held 50 grams worth of gold in his fingertips.
The team proceeded to extract gold from a two-ton iron drum by opening the drum’s sealed lid. Unfortunately, they had put too much glue on, and only one chain was holding up the entire bucket, making it wobble. With the carbon lumps containing the fine gold collected, they flushed the carbon into the bag, which was the most crucial point since any carbon they spilled was gold that they would be losing.
The team moved on to Jake’s workshop, 20 miles south, where they processed the carbon into steel wool, and then they poured a bar out of that. The carbon was leached again through a process called electro-winning, giving Jake high purity material that he melted for 20 minutes at 1400 degrees. Danny put a camera on everything, including the tongs going into the furnace. The team was surprised to see the final gold bar of 98% purity, which they weighed and cleaned up using nitric acid. The gold bar was worth over $66,000, making it a profitable business.
Though intrigued, Parker was aware that he would make a mess of the process if he tried to do it without more knowledge. The team had learned a lot and made good money, which pleased them all. Jake was happy to show Parker how they did it in Western Australia, and Matt thanked the team for their time. The three young miners working together was a rare sight, and it was cool to see them working as a team.