Mining Lead from My Outdoor Range

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by Vikingdad, Sep 21, 2013.

  1. Vikingdad

    Vikingdad New Member

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    Anybody done this? The range I go to hasn't done it ever as far as I can determine. I am working on them to allow me to do it. I have a small Kubota tractor that I can use to move material around with but I need some ideas on how to separate the lead out from the soil. The site is mainly sandstone and shale, so there are lots of large (bullet size) particles of rock in there as well as sand and dust to separate. Once I get the lead separated I have a small foundry I can use to melt it all down into ingots. The big issue is getting it off the range.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. MisterMcCool

    MisterMcCool Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I assumed ranges were required to sift out lead periodically.
     

  3. JW357

    JW357 New Member

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    If they let you do it, my recommendation is to use some sort of sifting table. Something like this would be easy to make:



    image-178671558.jpg
     
  4. Vikingdad

    Vikingdad New Member

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    There is currently no requirement in CA. I would imagine that it would begin here.

    Shhhhhh!
     

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  5. Txhillbilly

    Txhillbilly Active Member

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    The local range near me just had a company come in and recycle the lead from the entire range Rifle/Pistol/Skeet ranges. They got over 150 55 gallon drums of lead out of the grounds there. That's a lot of lead,and a butt load of money!
     
  6. Vikingdad

    Vikingdad New Member

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    Yeah, but how did they separate out the lead from the soil? That's the trick I need to figure out....
     
  7. JonM

    JonM Moderator

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    prolly an automated shaker sifting table and water. just like mining gold the led is much heavier than the dirt and rock.
     
  8. Vikingdad

    Vikingdad New Member

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    That's what I had thought, but the problem with it is twofold. One, water is not plentiful at the range and two, there would no doubt be a big issue with potentially "washing" lead downstream. That is already one of the issues that is threatening the existence of the range and why I would like to reduce the amount on site. Plus, I figure I could make some money at it by selling the lead and even the copper.
     
  9. JonM

    JonM Moderator

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    screen tables and hand pick the chunks only other way
     
  10. JW357

    JW357 New Member

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    That's basically what I was thinking.
    VD, if you aren't gonna use the lead you might consider your friendly neighborhood FTF neighbors. :)
     
  11. John_Deer

    John_Deer New Member

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    I would go to a dirt pit and have a look at a topsoil screening machine. Topsoil is screened before it is sold so there are no rocks, roots or any other debris when it is delivered. Once you see how the machine works you can find materials on the cheap to build a screen of your own.

    I run a topsoil screening machine for a friend when he is short of help. You will be amazed at what you will find when you look through the trash. I have found everything from confederate money to low grade rubies in the trash. Right after a rain I will ride to the pit and walk around to see what I can find. Most of the time I find indian artifacts. Lots of times I find nothing...
     
  12. JayCody

    JayCody New Member

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    Being that lead is very heavy compared to the dirt/sand that it is in, the lead bearing dirt could be poured into a bin while a high powered fan blows the dirt and sand away leaving the lead in the bin.
     
  13. Vikingdad

    Vikingdad New Member

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    I do have several soil sifting boxes. That would be tedious work. I might be able to take loads off in my dump trailer and then sift it off-site. I might ask my buddy who owns a quarry nearby if he has any ideas.
     
  14. ColdIron44

    ColdIron44 New Member

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    Viking, one thing to consider before you begin is that you might have trouble selling your lead. Oftentimes, jacketed bullets do not shed their jackets in a dirt backstop. Copper smelting plants won't accept the product as they do not care to meet the environmental standards associated with lead smelting, and the percentage of copper yield is very low. Lead smelting plants don't want the product because lead is already a low priced, small margin commodity that is heavily regulated, so they just don't care to mess with contaminants. I learned all this the hard way, working for a scrap yard in Texas where I purchased a few thousand pounds of recovered range lead. Roughly 75% of the bullets still retained their jackets, and the whole lot was contaminated with dirt which would need to be removed to increase value (a difficult task in itself, if you're at all environmentally concerned). The bottom line is that I still have those drums of bullets, going on 3 years now, with no takers. I think your best bet will be small time backyard smelters, if you're looking to recoup some money. Whatever you do, I sure hope you have better luck than me!
     
  15. JayCody

    JayCody New Member

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    Even if he doesn't sell it would be good for reloading. Look up "dry gold recovery" that might be your solution.
     
  16. Vikingdad

    Vikingdad New Member

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    I can do all of the smelting myself. My buddy has a big crucible and furnaces and ingot molds- or we can make some larger molds if need be. Then we can sell the ingots either for scrap or to other reloaders.
     
  17. JW357

    JW357 New Member

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    Don't sell them for scrap. There are too many reloaders here who would want them.
     
  18. JayCody

    JayCody New Member

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    I would buy it if the price was right and it was free of copper jackets.
     
  19. Josh1158

    Josh1158 New Member

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    a big magnet maybe? we have some at work on wheels they used to pick up the shavings of the floor.
     
  20. orangello

    orangello New Member

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    This was my first thought, but then I remembered that magnets work on steel not lead.

    :high five?: