July 3rd, 2013
Last week I was prospecting some canyons in the Mohave desert north of Coso Hot Springs, in California. Wild flowers were out, grass was just turning yellow, windy in the afternoons, temp above a hundred. I’ve been exploring a lot lately, mostly in Zacatecas and Chihuahua, a bit in the Mojave, and some in Nevada.
Being an exploration geologist requires you be an irrational optimist, for you can go your entire life and never find anything of value. A study years ago said the odds were 5000 to one against success. For every 5000 properties studied, only one ever makes it to a mine. And those 4999 that you fail on . . . well, each one averages about a million bucks to test. Some people say prospectors are nothing but damned fools.
But if you can survive the string of bad luck, on occasion you may discover something utterly beautiful. Maybe half a mountain, rocks all broken, maybe cemented with bands of white quartz and rusty gray silver, crystals of lead and zinc sparkle in the sun, and everywhere you turn you see that mistress of silver, barite, whose wafer-like blades tell you her lover is not far away. There’s nothing like being able to call your boss and tell him you may have found many billions worth of precious metals. Bullion will flow, thousands of jobs will be created, cities built – in other words, welcome new wealth for the growing population of the world. I’ve done it a few times so far, then actually documented the highs and lows in The Gift of El Tio. And here I am, out trying to do it again.