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Glossary of Mining Terms

Not sure what a 'drift' is? How about the word 'stope'? Check out our glossary to discover these words and more.

Gold Mining Terms

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nugget adit a horizontal or nearly horizontal underground passage coming to the surface at one end of a mine.
nugget alluvial of or pertaining to alluvium; alluvial soil.
nugget alluvium a deposit of sand, mud, etc., formed by flowing water.
nugget assay to analyze (an ore, alloy, etc.) in order to determine the proportion of gold, silver, or other metal in it.
nugget claim something that is claimed, esp. a piece of public land for which formal request is made for mining or other purposes.
nugget claim-jumper a person who seizes another's claim of land, esp. for mineral rights.
nugget coyote hole a shallow excavation dug in the ground for mineral exploration or extraction.
nugget drift an approximately horizontal passageway in underground mining.
nugget excavation an area where rock or alluvium has been removed.
nugget fools gold FeS2 - iron pyrite, sometimes mistaken for gold.
nugget gold
a precious yellow metallic element, highly malleable and ductile, and not subject to oxidation or corrosion. Symbol: Au; atomic. weight: 196.967; atomic number: 79
nugget headframe a structure supporting the hoisting sheaves at the top of a mineshaft. Also called gallows frame.
nugget lode a deposit of gold or other minerals.
nugget malleable
malleability, property of a metal describing the ease with which it can be hammered, forged, pressed, or rolled into thin sheets. Metals vary in this respect; pure gold is the most malleable.
nugget mercury a liquid metal used by the miners to concentrate gold Symbol: Hg; atomic. weight: 200.59; atomic number: 80
nugget miner a person who works in a mine.
nugget mine to dig in the earth for the purpose of extracting ores or other valuable minerals.
nugget Mother Lode a belt of very rich gold-bearing quartz veins.
nugget nugget an random shaped piece of gold of medium to large size.
nugget ore a mineral-bearing rock, which may be rich enough to be mined at a profit.
nugget placer alluvial deposit containing particles or larger pieces of gold or other minerals.
nugget portal an entrance to a tunnel, drift or adit in a mine.
nugget prospect an excavation undertaken in a search for ore.
nugget prospecting the search for mineral deposits suitable for mining.
nugget quartz
one of the most common of all rock-forming minerals and one of the most important constituents of the earth's crust. Quartz may be transparent, translucent, or opaque; it may be colorless to colored.
nugget raise
a shaft excavated upward for connecting adjacent levels. The terms “raise” and “winze” are used interchangeably to describe a completed opening.
nugget rake a timber placed at an angle.
nugget shaft a vertical or sloping opening, giving access to the various levels of a mine.
nugget stalactites
a deposit, usually of calcium carbonate, shaped like an icicle, hanging from the roof of a cave or the like, and formed by the dripping of calcareous (containing calcium) water.
nugget stamp mill a mill or machine in which ore is crushed to powder by means of heavy stamps or pestles.
nugget stope
any upward excavation made in a mine, esp. from a steeply inclined vein, to remove the ore that has been rendered accessible by the shafts and drifts.
nugget tailings refuse material resulting from the washing, concentration, or treatment of ore.
nugget tunnel an approximately horizontal underground passage open at both ends.
nugget vein a deposit of non-sedimentary origin, which may or may not contain valuable minerals; lode.
nugget winze a vertical or inclined shaft, driven downward from a drift into an ore body to another level. (see raise)


nugget Foothill Counties Mining Handbook, Special Publication 86, State of Calif., Dept. of Conservation, October 1985
You can find this at
nugget Rich Dvoracek, Mining Historian
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