Wind Gold and Silver Mining
Washoe County, Nevada
Story of the Wind Mountain Gold and Silver Mine
In the mid 1980s Amax mining acquired the Wind Mountain claims in northern Washoe county, roughly about 100 miles north of Reno. AMAX Gold produced approximately 300,000 ounces of gold and over 1.76 million ounces of silver between 1989 and 1993. This is actually somewhat on the small side for the scale of Nevada gold mines, and Amax more or less ran the Wind Mountain property as a little brother to the Sleeper mine, a much larger and richer property also owned by Amax, which is located about 80 miles to the northwest in Humboldt County. The Wind Mountain property was worked as an open pit, and the gold and silver were extracted by heap leaching using cyanide solutions. While some small amounts of high grade ore were recovered, most of the ore from the mine was comparatively low in grade. Reclamation was completed in the mid-1990s after the mine was closed and thereafter all mining operations ceased on the property for a number of years.
|Regional Geology of Wind Mtn.
The Wind Mountain mine is located at the north end of the Lake Range, in a region of mostly volcanic rocks, with some metamorphic rocks, mostly phyllite/slate. Intrusive granitic rocks are located in the ranges to the east and north. The host rock for the epithermal gold silver mineralization at the mine is a silicified rhyolitic tuff (shown as Ts3).
|Faults and the Hosting of the Wind Mountain
Gold and Silver Deposits
The Wind mountain gold and silver deposit exists in an area of intense geothermal activity, that still continues to this day. A geothermal food dehydration plant operated for years south of the mine, and a small geothermal power plant still operates south of the mine area as well. A wide zone of alteration, with accompanying sinter, sulfur and mercury mineralization parallels the Lake Range near the edge of the playa. This zone had long been known, and its existence is what was first attracted prospectors and exploration geologists to the area in the late 1970s. Shallow epithermal gold deposits are known to be associated with this type of hydrothermal activity, and after Homestake discovered the rich hot-spring gold deposit at the McLaughlin Mine in California, many similar mercury deposits across Nevada and Northern California were re-examined for their gold content. Because of its geology, Wind Mountain produced many thousands of pounds of mercury as a by product to the gold and silver operations, as mercury is recovered along with gold and silver during the cyanide extraction process.
The gold at the Wind Mountain location is fine grained and mostly microscopic in size. No placers were formed, which explains why these deposits were not discovered by the old time prospectors who explored this area.
at Wind Mountain
two previously mined deposits, shown here outlined in yellow, were found against a
NW trending range front fault, where NE trending faults intersected it.
Staking the Wind Nos 1-10 Claims
In the early 1990s, Kinross, then the holder of
the property, completed the required reclamation and decided to stop paying annual lease fees on the claims and let them go. The
previous claim owners decided to drop the claims rather than pay the annual fees
staked some claims in the Wind area, but during those times of low gold prices, they also
dropped their claims rather than continue to pay the annual fee to the BLM. Exploration
for gold in Nevada essentially came to a standstill across the state as low prices for
gold and silver made all but the richest mines uneconomic. When gold prices began to
increase in 2003, I began to research locations within Nevada that had potential for gold
deposits, with the plan that they would be leased out to mining companies for exploration.
I had a number of targets, but after some onsite exploration, I declined to stake claims
on most of them. However, the Wind site looked good to me and I was convinced that the
flat NW of the old workings had some very serious potential. Walking the ground and
checking the old records showed that in spite of its proximity to the known deposits, this
location had never been drilled. My father, my uncle Larry and I staked these claims and
filed the necessary paperwork to hold them. Because of small miner fee
exemption considerations, they were staked in uncle Larry's name.
The wind claims are located along the same NW trending fault as the previously mined deposits.
locations for Gold and Silver Deposits on the Wind Claims
The Wind Clams hold excellent potential for discovery of further epithermal gold and silver ore bodies. Several locations where NE trending cross faults meet up with the major NW trending fault that controls the known ore bodies are present on the Wind claims. The similar geology could host additional ore. These locations, shown in Red on the map below, provide good potential for more surface minable gold - silver ore bodies, which would be similar to the ore bodies that have already been worked. On the Wind claims this potential ore is covered by about 20 to 60 feet of lake bed silts, meaning any serious exploration must be done by drilling down through the sediments into the rocks below.
Perhaps the most intriguing possibility on the Wind claims is actually not for further open pit ore. The Sleeper mine which produced rich gold ore was located on a playa like this one just down hill from the Jumbo underground gold mine. The Sleeper had been discovered where a wide fault zone met up with a cross fault coming out of the hills to the east. This extra ground breakage allowed large amounts of fluids to flow through the system, depositing considerable rich gold and silver ore. On the Wind claims the projected fault north trending zone which bears sulfur and mercury mineralization meets up with the NW fault zone that controls the known ore bodies that were mined 15 years ago. I believe the area where these two fault zones meet up holds excellent potential for rich bonanza ore in a setting similar to that found at the Sleeper mine.
Map of the Wind Claims
The wind claims are located NW of the known deposits. Potential locations for new ore bodies are shown in red, the old ore bodies are in blue.
Looking at the Wind Mountain Deposit
Below are several photos of the Wind claims area. They give a feel for the high desert nature of the area, with its sparse vegetation, rolling hills and craggy peaks.
Wind Claims from Across the Valley
The wind claims are located NW of the known deposits. This photo looks east and show how the two known ore bodies point NW toward the Wind Claims area.
Agnico-Eagle Stakes around the Wind Claims
A few months after we staked the wind claims, a large mining company called Agnico-Eagle came in and staked the area (actually it was a wholly owned subsidiary of Agnico). Their claims lie to the east of ours and cover the old mine pit areas. They did some minor testing, but did not do large amount of work on their claims. The main target on these claims is a large quartz-calcite vein on the west side of the main pit which is nearly barren and carries very little mineralization at the level of the pit area, but may carry some significant bonanza grade ore at depth. This large vein may have served as a feeder for the ores mined in the main pit. It generally follows the NE trending fault branch that controls the mineralization in the main pit.
The Wind Claims Area
This is the heart of the Wind Claims area. Beneath this flat is the greatest potential for new discoveries within the claims. Dark brown ribs on the ridge in the background are zones of strongly silicified rocks.
|Leasing the Wind Claims to Fortune River
In May of 2006, a junior exploration company by the name of Fortune River acquired the rights to the Agnico Eagle claims at Wind Mountain. Fortune River is a small exploration company with properties in Nevada and British Columbia. They are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. It has been their intent concerning Wind Mountain to explore at depth the quartz calcite vein on the west side of the pit and any other rich feeder veins in the area. They are searching for rich bonanza high grade ore. As a part of their agreement, and subject to certain terms and requirements, Agnico-Eagle has the right to take back the property as the mine operator if rich deposits are indeed discovered on the property.
In January of 2007, Fortune River contacted me as they had tried earlier without success to contact my uncle, in whose name the claims are registered. As it was our intent all along to lease these claims and I had been intending to pursue leasing them, it worked out well. We entered into discussions with Fortune River and worked out an agreement to lease the claims to them for exploration. This agreement was finalized in mid February. We are very hopeful that Fortune River will be quite successful in their efforts. It is not unusual that new and significant gold deposits are found in and around previously mined areas.
Wind Claims Area Looking NW
This photo looks NW out across the San Emidio desert. The string of white buildings just left of the base of the electrical transmission tower is the Empire Farms Ranch.
|Current activity out at The Wind Mountain
At the time of this writing (March 2007) Fortune River is currently drilling a deep target under the old pit on the Agnico Eagle claims to the east of our Wind claims. As the drilling is still in progress, no results have been announced. It is Fortune River's belief that previously mined mineralization at Wind Mountain is at the paleo-top of this hydrothermal system. Consequently, targets of their drilling programs are areas of high-grade, bonanza mineralization that may exist within "feeder zones" underlying this extensive disseminated gold/silver halo.
While both the author and Fortune River are optimistic that economic mineralization will be found on the Wind properties, nothing is ever certain and mining is a very high risk endeavor. This web page and the information contained on this web site are provided solely for the reader's general knowledge. The author has taken all reasonable care in assembling and publishing the information contained on this web site, and will continue efforts to ensure that the information is accurate. Material on this site may still contain technical or other inaccuracies, omissions, or typographical errors, for which the author assumes no responsibility. The author and Nevada Outback Gems does not warrant or make any representations regarding the use, validity, accuracy, completeness or reliability of any claims, statements or information on this site.
This site does not offer investment advice, nor does it make recommendations for buying or selling any securities or options. It is up to the reader to make their own decisions, or to consult with a registered investment advisor, when evaluating the information contained herein. Statements that are not historical facts are considered "forward-looking statements" as the term is defined in the private securities litigation reform act of 1995. Such forward looking statements are subject to risks and uncertainties which could cause actual results to materially change from estimated results.
This site is prepared and maintained by Chris Ralph, a private individual. Chris is involved with the ownership of the Wind Claims, currently under lease by Fortune River, but Chris is not involved with the corporate structure or company operations of Fortune River, Rio Fortuna, or any of the other companies associated with Manex Resources. This site is not reviewed, approved or endorsed by Fortune River. The views expressed represent only the personal opinions of Mr. Ralph, the author.
Want to see some photos of beautiful natural gold nuggets and specimens? Natural Gold Nuggets and Specimens
Still want to Learn more? Check out my
recommended book listing: Chris'
recommended books on Prospecting, Rockhounding and Jewelry Making.
If you'd like to find a gold nugget for yourself, then take a look at some more information about prospecting for gold with a metal detector in the Northern Nevada / Northern California area, take a look at the articles, maps and web pages I have put together: Nugget Detecting near Reno-Sparks
Want to know a little bit more about this crazy prospector guy? Well, here's a little bit more about me, and how I got into prospecting: Chris' Prospecting Story
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