During the winter season we head for Rubyvale where we have two mining claims. These claims are both underground mines. We dig a shaft down to find the sapphire bearing wash and then tunnel out in search of sapphires.
Excavators or backhoes are not allowed to be used to dig for sapphires on these types of claims called “hand mining claims“, but jack hammers and mechanical winches and processing equipment is allowed.
We dig the wash out using small jackhammers and then winch it up to the surface in buckets using an electric winch, then it is put through the plant for processing. The plant comprises a trommel where the wash is rolled around to break it up and remove the larger rocks and the sand and dust, the remaining wash then feeds in to the pulsator where it is washed. At the end of the process the sapphires are caught up in a mesh basket built into the pulsator and then the basket is cleared and the sapphires collected.
It all sounds so simple but there is a lot of dirt between the sapphires and metres of wash can be be processed before you catch a reasonable sapphire.