Lode mining. Quartz mining. Hard rock mining. Call it what you will, the practice of extracting ore from stone is one of the most difficult, dangerous, and expensive forms of mining.
Placer Mining Vs. Lode Mining
There are two kinds of places where a prospector can find gold: the original veins of gold where it was formed in the rock or in deposits where natural actions such as water has eroded pieces of gold away from the original host rock.
Placer mining collects the later: sorting gold and other metals from river beds and other locations where the gold has traveled from the host rock. This means that water and other natural actions have already done a lot of the work. All an early placer miner would need was a pan to separate the pieces of gold from the sand around it.
Lode mining goes right to the source and targets the original gold veins where the gold will be more dense but more difficult to reach. This means chipping away at solid rock, whether that is with a pick or explosives. It’s rough and often dangerous work. This can mean following a vein deep underground—risking cave-ins and deadly gas. There are also extra expenses, such as pumping water our of shafts, lifting ore out of deep tunnels, and running tracks and carts through winding tunnels. Yet, the rewards could be great. Every miner knew the potential of discovering a new Comstock or Homesteak lode.