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Thread: Raw lead straight out of the earth

  1. #1
    Boolit Man lts70's Avatar
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    Raw lead straight out of the earth

    Anyone have success mining for raw lead. A friend told me it was the most abundant heavy metal found directly on the surface of the earth. Just thought it would be cool to find some. Or even hear from those that have.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    A friend who pans for gold said he finds lead in the streams around here,
    also sometimes finds old bullets. He was gonna give me a can of it (he doesn't cast)
    but now he works oilfield again and is never here.

  3. #3
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    You would be looking for galena. I think that most of the mines are in the Missouri area.


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    Very common in many mines. I know there is lots of lead in the silver mines of this area. The old lead mining district, was in an area composing the intersection of Iowa, Illinois, and Wisconsin.
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
    John Taylor - "African Rifles and Cartridges"

    Forget everything you know about loading jacketed bullets. This is a whole new ball game!


  5. #5
    Boolit Master

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    It looks like dirt and the process to get the lead is very involved. It is rare to find actual lead, maybe like finding gold nuggets.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master uscra112's Avatar
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    Yeah, there were major lead mines on the Mississippi in what is now far northern Illinois. Look for the town of Galena, just a little southeast of Dubuque, IA. The Indians were mining lead there before the French and Spanish got there in the 1600s. Reducing lead sulfide can't be all that complicated if the Indians were doing it.

    If you happen to be in the area, Galena is now a bit a tourist trap, but still worth a look, at least to us disciples of the history of the silver stream.

    Used to be a big lead mine on the East Fork of the Wood River in Idaho, between Hailey and Ketchum. Locals say it was very active during WW2, then petered out and finally closed in the '60s. (?) The remnants are still to be seen. There's remains of other lead mines in that area, too. You can buy the land they sit on, but I doubt they'd let you mine it in these days of P.C. and EPA.
    So long, and thanks for all the fish.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master

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    Smelting lead is a very nasty business, lots of toxic wastes, uses a bunch of energy.

    Bill
    If it was easy, anybody could do it.

  8. #8
    Most Americans don't realize it, but the lead mines around Wytheville, Virginia supplied the lead for most of the bullets used by Washington's Continental Army to win the American Revolution.

    The Wytheville mines also supplied lead for the Confederacy. I was in Wytheville a few years ago, but from what I could learn by asking around, all the lead mines are now closed down and have been closed down for a long time now.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master
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    I'm from a lead mining region of wisconsin. there were mines everywhere. a choler epidemic wiped out a lot of the people and the rest fled. I have been in the mines, seen veins of lead, and picked up lead in the limestone bottomed ditches after a rain. it settles in the cracks. I tried to melt it a time or two with no success. there was a smelter in the neighborhood around the civil war. I guess they fired it with wood. raw led is brittle and you can break it into a bunch of crystals with a hammer. I don't know what it takes to turn it into smelted lead.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    Quote Originally Posted by Southron Sanders View Post
    Most Americans don't realize it, but the lead mines around Wytheville, Virginia supplied the lead for most of the bullets used by Washington's Continental Army to win the American Revolution.

    The Wytheville mines also supplied lead for the Confederacy. I was in Wytheville a few years ago, but from what I could learn by asking around, all the lead mines are now closed down and have been closed down for a long time now.
    I have toured the mine from Potosi wisconsin. They said it was the main mine that supplied the lead for the union army.. We had a great time and learned quite a bit..

  11. #11
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    Lead is everywhere. A few years back the EPA proposed that the clean up standard for lead was to be set a 5 ppb or parts per billion. There was nowhere that did not have lead already at that standard.
    [The Montana Gianni] Front sight and squeeze

  12. #12
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    I don't know about lead but a lot of metal ores are sulphides, and a common method to
    smelt them was to roast them with limestone and form, I think, calcium sulphide and the
    raw metal. It has been a long time since I studied this so I may have it wrong, but IIRC
    you could crush limestone and lead sulphide and heat them way up and probably get
    lead out. How pure? No idea, I expect it depends on the ore.

    Bill
    If it was easy, anybody could do it.

  13. #13
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    In some materials I have from the old midwest mines, there were deposits of lead found in large cube formations, some weighing over 1000#.
    The solid soft lead bullet is undoubtably the best and most satisfactory expanding bullet that has ever been designed. It invariably mushrooms perfectly, and never breaks up. With the metal base that is essential for velocities of 2000 f.s. and upwards to protect the naked base, these metal-based soft lead bullets are splendid.
    John Taylor - "African Rifles and Cartridges"

    Forget everything you know about loading jacketed bullets. This is a whole new ball game!


  14. #14
    Boolit Master

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    I believe this would galena crystals which can be cubes, but galena is lead suphide, and
    needs to be smelted to reduce the sulphide to the metal. It would be pretty amazing to find
    a 1000 lb cube of galena - it looks pretty neat, definitely looks metallic.

    I just read up on smelting lead, and you first roast it at moderate temps to drive off the sulphide
    as sulphur dioxide (nasty poisonous gas, will combine with water to become sulphurous acid) and
    leave lead oxide. Limestone is used to combine with any rock impurities as slag. The lead is then
    reduced at higher temperatures, I think they charcoal added into the mix to combine
    with the oxygen and leave as carbon dioxide, leaving relatively pure molten lead. Modern systems
    used cabon monoxide gas added instead of charcoal. You need the heat and something to
    rip the oxygen off of the lead oxide and leave the metallic lead behind.

    Bill
    Last edited by MtGun44; 10-08-2011 at 10:21 PM.
    If it was easy, anybody could do it.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master
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    Near me is New Galena Pa. Mine is now under Lake Galena.( Peace Valley Park) Mined in 1885 i beleive.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    Nevada lead

    I often wondered about extracting lead from the galena ore. A few years back we were visiting a ghost town NE of Ely, Nevada where I found a whole hillside of the ore. Lead seems to be associated with silver strikes regularly

  17. #17
    Boolit Master
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    Interesting. There are huge lead deposits south of St Louis along the river. Last I heard, the EPA was putting pressure on them to not sell to individuals or in small quantities.

    Rich

  18. #18
    Boolit Master Harter66's Avatar
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    Quill,

    You are correct,based on my history knowledge. Virginia City is the place that coined "the streets are paved in gold" . It seems they didn't know what to do w/all the blue mud so they paved the streets . It took several assays before the silver was confirmed and recovered from the wortless lead they believed they were paving with.
    Last edited by Harter66; 10-09-2011 at 06:56 PM.
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  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    I have a 15 pound crystal of the mineral Galena (lead sulfide) sitting on my desk. Here are a few cubic cleavage fragments from the lab.

    Native lead crystals do occur in nature but are VERY rare and worth much more as collectibles than as bullet making material ! I have never seen examples except in museums.

    Jerry

    S&W .38/44 Outdoorsman Accumulator

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    HI,
    I have several Galina chunk crystals from when I was working on my geology minor so I could teach Earth Science. We have a town called Galina here in Ut. IFIRC.
    With lead mines.

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