CLAIMS
     My Virgin Valley opal claims for sale showing fee is $200. The mine/prospect drive around takes over 5 hours to visit the areas cuts. I'm the man who has the claims and the time to real estate agent as they say. It is normal mining operations to sell claims here or there.  The fee is to cover my expenses and is not fee digging. My prospecting has found lost mines and new ones too. I'm your man even if you are only curious.  You can be a small gemstone miner with essentially no annual costs or effort and stay there with all of the tax benefits, not in the campground.
Getting to be a real neighborhood out here.
Moon rise over the mining district looking East towards the Purple Fire claim group (SOLD) and the Swordfish claims from the dam on one of the Dufferena ponds which are a vital link on the inland flyway for migrating birds. This view is looking out to and over the refuge boundary to the east toward Big Mountain which is a large shield volcano forming the eastern edge of the Virgin Valley caldera. There are many extinct volcanoes within sight of the valley rims.

      Swordfish Mining has certified claims and a couple locations for sale that you can call whatever you liike on certification. I live here and can help you repeatedly.  I take you there myself, not send some un-informed agent to show you the opal bearing places I alone know.  I do not just send you a map with GPS coordinates that you could easily get lost from to try and figure out where to dig to find these elusive precious opals. You can be mining opals in less than 24 hrs. I'm a friendly source of local information, not a total substitute for the research at the county and state level  I can also teach you how to do easily enough. Experienced in the actual local geology of ancient desert sea shores and dry island to forested valleys by volcano deposits which are faulted and warped by repeated seismic events. My decades of digging here, give you a real feel for any individual claim or mine. All of the original faulted open rich deposits have continued to produce opal without becoming mined out. Most of the original placer claims recieved deeds and are now Fee digs run by great folks that also live here.

     The opal beds form an uneven stack of lenses and layers several hundreds of feet and millions of years thick. Finding opal takes experience, skill, luck, and the willingness to keep going. I've spent thousands of hours searching out and reading all the books from others and then selectively mining these relocated claims.  I don't provide maps with the claim names and unclaimable open areas outside the mining district. The rangers do not even have a map for that for you.  If you've already decided which claim(s) to buy, I charge $200 down payment to show you all the details. The cost of test digging days ($200 a day per person) is reduced from the claim price as a down payment. The tour is separate from the sales trip unless you want to buy at the end of the tour that day.

     It takes quite awhile going around to the various claims passing on my quality personal opal information. If we're running around to all the claims for sale;  there isn't enough time to walk but a couple, let alone test dig each one for possible precious opals. We're looking for which one will entertain you for years, not which one will pay to buy it up front. That has been done before however. Clients HAVE bought claims with the first stone they found and sold.  All the claims might hit on the next shovel, but it's mine until you buy. We walk and talk then look at the dirt on the way by to small exploratory cuts on the layers that contain opal elsewhere for sure. You should expect to have to work to find gem opals which are still the exception even here the best place in America to find them. I see trace and let tourist take some samples. Some I keep to cut as it is my right as owner to give or retain ore. When the tour is over most folks have made their decisions which ones they'd want to see what was in, or why they don't is clearly discussed and value is gained. I help more people decide not to buy, or just entertain them for a day with knowledge, as sales  I make by being honest. Everybody has been impressed with their tour guides' capability.  After being sold, they are not shown to anyone else.

     Thanks in advance for paying the $200 claim fee as a deposit.  You can pay with Paypal.  This price is for your family or a couple of miners. For additional prospectors or larger groups the cost is $100 each in addition. A group of four separate miners would be $400. Test digging is $200 a day per head which is only refunded on the purchase price any claim. Larger groups must take your larger vehicle as you need to drive too. I am not a transporter by the letter of the regulations. Mini-lectures will be given at several locations throughout the caldera complex. My Subaru works fine to get to all my claims, but less skilled drivers might want a 4x4 when you come. Call me to see if I am available before you leave cell phone service territory.

     This is not a led rockhound collecting trip inside the refuge. I only do guideing outside of the boundries until I hear back from the F&W.  You won't be picking up everything you see on every claim as that strips the claims of their obvious contents not dug yet.  Opals don't  just lay around anywhere on earth and the typical size of surface opal is probably going to be one I let you  keep. We don't leave gems on the ground of course. Cutters I take home to cut. That's why I own claims. Best go to the fee digs where you can dig all day if your goal is maybe getting rough or several specimens. None of my claims are for public commercial fee digging, only bank for exclusive clients and lessors testing the banks until the claims are bought by you.

     Low sedans are not advised on the refuge 4x4 roads as larger rocks have to be driven around. Always carry a spare in the off paved roads world and two sparews is wiser. Two wheel drive is all that is necessary to access most every claims during dry weather.

     I made opal discoveries on every claim before staking the claims. The asking price represents what the claims are worth in comparison to the other gemstone claims here and for sale elsewhere in the west after looking at how much and what grade I mined off it already.  I will trade for some needed items.  All offers will be considered.  I need to replace my car that has 300,000 plus miles on it now and I want to trade, not go buy one. Storage canisters delivered, motorcycle or Quad, lapidary equipment etc. I'm wanting functional items not expensive toys. Small equipment is fine to prospect with, but not to mine seriously. That being said we usually just hire a cat to make a cut then mine for years by hand there.

     A proven precious opal claim price depends on the quality and quantity of what was seen dug so far from that place on the contained bed by us in the past. Most of the remaining unclaimed ground is way to deep, or steep, to mine profitably.  Availability of electricity, phone & Internet, and road access, along with any past development work and the location in relation to other proven commercial operations is taken into consideration.  Most claims just never got dug into what I think are the possible opal layers for more than a few feet.

     The odds are 100% you WILL find common opals and wood replacements on the claims.  People rarely talk about their opal production. Opal miners are a very secretive lot as a rule of survival. I have never heard any amounts of opal reported, other than those numbers reported to the State Minerals Production records for our Nevada state taxes. If you have to pay that it is only 1.75% of net when you sell, ie see what it is worth.

     Claim groups are not usually broken up.  These claims all have some topography to deal with. All have opal banks or seams present that will contain whatever opals made. It's mostly hidden underground. I've seen a mines' banks change within a few feet from twigs to nodules to nothing to veins to blacks worth thousands and back to an opal a week. Every claim I sell has acres of untested ground to explore.

     Opal is a gemstone that has been priced among the highest on earth. Our unique form of the popular gemstone usually comes as a fossil replacement. All claims do produce some forms of precious and common opals, and possibly the rare fossils in both soft and a harder opal. Most cab cutters grind off everything but the precious opal. Not all opals will cut gemstones,  that's the story of precious opals everywhere. I live off the percentage that are stable and do cut fine gems.

+ + + + +  SWORDFISH MINING'S LIST OF CLAIM OFFERINGS + + + + +  Millsites and new claims put in start at $1,000. My proven wood and opal claims available are likely to be the other half of the hill that the best opal mine is in. Tours by the mine owner, me, no agents could fill in for my knowledge, but for large groups I will have another experience mine owner accompany us helping to show and tell or replace me if sudden illness occurs.



   The Sunnyside claims command an entire East facing prominence with definitive cuts on the various layers of outcropping opal dirt, yet was only dug on one small area. Exposed woods look real likely to be in pay layers just as the wood is across the valley on the Bonanza and Opal Queen mines in the same layers they mine. 4x4 access roads to the bottom and top end where there is a cut on the log layers. Power is at the foot of the hill.  A very thick contorted Montmorillite deposit contains more trees and opalized hard common woods than those already laying on the surface surely.   
Devil Fire MineThe Sunnysides are the far side of top disturbance wrapping around the hill from the left. Photo looking East across The Last Millsite (foreground right)and Fairy Fire (fore ground left) claims towards the Opal Showers (about dead center in the canyon down low on the far side) and Sunnysides 4&5 mainly.

   These two claims are next to 2 proven mines.  Patented ground is adjoining these side by side claims down a wash and up across a hill. The opal from this area is smaller but the fire opal that is found in the valley. By that I mean; the yellow, orange, red, fire opals with some precious are inter-mixed when you find a pocket. I proved the middle claim in an old cut. The basalt in opal is rare here, but I have found several pieces as surface finds on this outcrop.  One claim does show the opal coming out of the layer that goes under all the other claims. The "best" camping secluded access one is also the easiest to dig one. $8000
The Jewelled Saddle plateau
The Jeweled Saddles looking north. The view from the top over toward the Trout Cr mountains.

Opal Showers   Another slice of the bottom layer of beds. Off the side of other proven and still held mines. Cuts were made on wood and opal showings from 50 foot above all the way down. 4x4 Road runs thru it. I use all or two wheel drive it, but most others would never get there without four wheel drive, or not slip in the ruts down the clayey roads. This one is a placer claim which has slightly different measurements but is still approximately 20 acres. With a nice flat camping site with a great view by the seldom used access road up a back canyon.

  The other side of the hill that has been worked over more but they only found logs so far. I think they called it wrong. One single lode with a good passable 4x4 road to it. There are logs eroding out of the hills on both sides of the fault here. POC opal has been mined here before. Lots of big woods like the Joy Lu 55 has and on other Joy Lu claims.

 The Glutes. This is down a shallow draw cut through the muds. No high hill on the fault but it has a side creek that cut all the overburden off a hard layer under montmorillite with woods even logs coming out. Silcrete or Chert underlies both claims and has not been cut through. An excavator definitely needs to work back in there.  Right off Virgin Ranch Rd it also has access across highlands from the Bonanza side of plateau.

A Millsite is still available on power and phone service lines. $1,500, or a new one can be can be staked for you for $1,000 and the state and federal fees somewhere else closer to your claim.  

 CONSIGNMENT  #1: The existing certified claim is on the Bonanza Layers and has a sizeable amount of material to mine on it. It is next to the Bonanza to the East and up against the same mountain that the famous Virgin Mine was tunneled into. Again only small prospect holes on only one place in the bank have been excavated for exploration. Good dirt road up the hill to the canyon. Lots of activity in this area including the Opal Queen, The Bonanza Corp, and many others on their claims. Its a good claim with great prospects. I'm selling this for a friend who just can't make it out here from Florida every year to mine. I've never dug in this canyon,but would like to try. He is a Bonanza member. Only $12,000 direct.
Hill behind Opal Queen
The hill behind the private Opal Queen Mine in front of the Bonanza is where the claim is. That is the hill the Virgin queen Mine was drifted into.

Consignment #2 is on an area of big wood deposited over by the highway. Bill is getting up in years and does not want to mess with the effort required to mine anymore. He has a Farmall front scoop back hoe and a class C motor home to go with the 2 claims.  A couple bumps and banks that have some opalization and big wood so far. This is NOT the Stone Tree claim up on the hill. Only $15,000 or best offer. Again I'm his friend and doing this for only a few folks. You would be in business with the owner and he would pay me later after you decide what the deal is and it is done.

     I hope condensing the list made it easier. I am able to do time contracts with a portion down.  50% down and the balance in monthly payments at 10% annual interest, with owner financing, for up to 2 years.  I wish to be paid on contract with a promissory note so you will OWN your claim(s) from the sale date on. I'm known for continuing to help my clients after the sale. Not for free if you want my professional mining help, but help getting settled in, easy questions with no sweat involved - no problem - free as my schedule permits, paying me gets you time on demand. I'm not becoming your partner for the cost of the claim.

    There are only so many viable places to dig for opals left out here. Just anywhere will not work and there are many useless holes dug by rockhounds out here to mis lead you. Most of the mining districts' 45,000 or so remaining acres (includes all current claims and patents) is unminable over the hill or under the mesa capped with Apache bearing lava flows. Claims located right next to commercial grade properties of gem material that have excellent potential, versus further away prospects that are not proven are priced accordingly.  Opal is where you find it. You don't find opal just anywhere. If there is a history, or are precious black opals currently being mined from a pocket on the claim is more expensive.  A 1/100 share in the Bonanza cost $10,000 from the founding lawyers' wife that was a controlling interest for decades. Ohterwise you need to find a member willing to part with theirs.

    Mrs Lockheed lived at the Swordfish, not at any other fee dig sites she leased regardless of what uninformed current operators may tell you from rumors. There is not a written trail of who did what where here.think. My mentor was on the ground here working for the CCC, not reading a book or listening to scuttlebutt. If you look at her camp photos of the guests' tents, they are pitched on my Swordfish claims, about a mile away from the Rainbow Ridge Mine which was called the Green Fire Mine by her abd claimed as such. She did ramrod a mining operations on the Rainbow Ridge properties of the MC Cattle Co as the mine manager after she buildt her house on the Swordfish group.

     My prospects all have THE correct montmorillite clay banks that contain opal here with the necessary faults. This Nevada state gemstone claim will be yours. These claims were thoroughly title researched, are legally monumented with wood posts when they were mapped and have had annual upkeep. None are claimjumped as far as I know yet. The wild burros don't always leave the 4x4's in stone monument "scratching" posts upright (usually). but I have photographs of their installation. 2x2 posts disappear the first time. Burros like to chew on them for some reason, so don't use pressure treated with arsenic stakes to be nice to the burros. Certification papers with maps are recorded in Humboldt Co. and with the state BLM branch office. None of my claims are infeasible to immediately go dig on with hand tools and prospect. All have vehicle access or a just a short walk to the boundary. A note here: The Fish and Wildlife staff removed or neutered most of the animals that were causing that problem.

     I can show you PRECIOUS OPALS that I mined from each of my proven claims. If you want to go see that for yourself (i.e. dig prior to purchase) a trial dig can be arranged. If you want to use equipment a lease would have to be made with you responsible for the reclamation. No, they don't require bonds yet, but I do require the work done on my areas to keep it pretty. Just round it off and it reseed's naturally after the winter rains. You will get the full value of your trial dig money taken off the price of the claim you buy. I retain the right for the mine to have any logs and unexpected large gem pockets encountered but not any of the smaller more expected commonly found everyday gem opals when test digging.

     If it is just like normal digging you normally keep everything even the rarest museum pieces. I will be there digging also but for myself in a different area than you desire to work (which would probably be where I would have dug as I'm trying to have you find color yourself). If you buy the claim within two months after digging; I will take off all the digging costs from the price of the claim you select. You keep any of the opals and wood found while test digging. You may not scour all the surface wood, especially the large logs off the claims when test digging. That is not opal mining.

     The charge for you to test dig on claims prior to actual purchase is $200 per day per person (after the drive around to the prospects) which is only refundable on timely purchase of the claim. This is not a fee dig and is only for interested buyers. I don't have the economy of volume and have to serve each digging party personally. None of my claims have been salted with outside opal by me or others.  I would never salt a claim as that would confuse us finding the opal and is a crooks trick and illegal.  I discount any woods and opals not still coming out of undisturbed earth as genuine proof my claims are good. You can tell if opal comes from there or not by digging into the undisturbed bank.  My first hand digging knowledge is your most valuable asset.  I DO have a claim that has completed all the steps prior to patenting if the govenment ever allows that again to actually get the deed the land. Each year they have to fund the not giving deeds, so every year it is possible I can own my mine totally and build a home there.

     My reputation is YOUR best friend.  Ask about who the people selling the claim really are and their history or who they are involved with to see how well they do there.  Compare my prices to any consulting geologists' rates or a gemology class. I'm a hard working prospector and miner that's been out here for decades and I'll get you a satisfactory claim.

Note: all text and photographs copyrights reserved by John Church.
Re-publication not for gain is permitted with proper URL credit given.