D&D 5E How long would it take to mine a gold vein in medieval times?

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
Does anyone know where I can find stats on mine production in medieval times? Say a rich gold vein was discovered. How much ore could be removed from from the mine daily/monthly? I know that it depends on number of people and other factors. I'm just trying to get some general stats I can extrapolate from. I realize in a D&D fantasy world there is magic that can speed things up but I want to start with mundane numbers as a basis.
 

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Yaarel

Mind Mage
Does anyone know where I can find stats on mine production in medieval times? Say a rich gold vein was discovered. How much ore could be removed from from the mine daily/monthly? I know that it depends on number of people and other factors. I'm just trying to get some general stats I can extrapolate from. I realize in a D&D fantasy world there is magic that can speed things up but I want to start with mundane numbers as a basis.
The accessibly of gold depends on the soil.

Most medieval gold came from easily accessible river gravel.

Is your gold source imbedded deep inside rock?

The speed of tunneling varies greatly, depending on the hardness of the rock and the abundance and ease of extracting the gold, from say 10 meters per year to comb thru carefully to a 1000 meters a year to blitz thru.

Some are pit mines. with an open sky, more like a rock quarry.

How much a mine (or region of mines) produces varies extremely, from ounces to tons.

How long a mine (or region of mines) remains active also depends. Often centuries.

It seems to me, you can just make up whatever you want.



Notably, tunnel mining is extremely dangerous from cave-ins, poison gases, lack of oxygen, flooding, etcetera.
 



Celebrim

Legend
I think there is a good dragon article on this IIRC, but I don't remember the details other than the title: "In a Cavern, In a Canyon..." by Thomas Kane.
 
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Yaarel

Mind Mage
My impression is, archeologists have a clearer idea of how ancient mining worked (Roman Period and earlier), than medieval mining.

For example, Ancient Egyptian mining is now reasonably well understood.

Inferring from different articles, it seems most of the medieval European gold came from the rivers in East Europe (places like Thracia, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and earlier Dacia), altho lesser amounts could be found across Europe.

Interestingly, one article stated that in Europe the medieval mining techniques were less good than during the Roman Period.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Interestingly, one article stated that in Europe the medieval mining techniques were less good than during the Roman Period.

Depends on the part of the Middle Ages we are talking about. By the 11th century, the Medievals were outperforming the ancients. By the end of it the medievals had worked out some sophisticated mechanized mining techniques for getting water out of mine shafts.
 





TwiceBorn2

Adventurer

aco175

Legend
The Poldark TV show featured some around mining a copper mine. I liked the show overall. It took place after the American Revolution War and had Captain Poldark return to England. Featured several problems with a mine and how the attitude/health of the locals affected much.

Also the Hell on Wheels show has some mining tunnels through mountains in the last couple seasons. They were using nitrile glycerin and such though. It did show how the owners could push the labor to increase production, but left a trail of bodies behind it.
 



MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site


General estimates are 1m per year until a major vien is identified

Ian Blanchard suggest British mines after 1400 yielded maybe 15-20 kg ore per day
Thanks! Wow, that's not much. I was reading up on the Homestead Mine in South Dakota, one of the most productive hard rock mines in history. But even in the 1800s there was technology to take out large volumes of ore a day.

The text in the mega-dungeon (Rappan Athuk) I'm running reads:

a large vein of gold can be seen in the north corner of the room. If mined, it yields 200,000 gp of raw ore (weighing 40,000 pounds).

So the vein is already identified. This is in a cavern underground, so this is hard rock mining.

At 20 kg (~44 lbs) per day, that's 909 days (2.5 years). So, say 30 months, taking out 1333 lbs of ore per month. So, based on the stated value of that ore, that would be 6,666 gp per month, which is such an appropriate number for Rappan Athuk I almost think that the writers put in these numbers on purpose (I doubt it, but what a coincidence).
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
@MNblockhead it seems your main question Jason been covered, but if you aren't aware of it I would recommend checking out the following book, which is a classic third party supplement from the 3E era that is in the 5E DMG Suggested Teading list for very good reason:

I've seen recommendations for that book before but the cost kept me away. But I finally bought it. Looks like a great resource. In the books table on annual yields for mines, on the assumption of 30 adults to work it, it gives the annual yield for gold mines to be 0.5 tons and 50,000 GP.

So to get to the 200,000 GP of value, it would take 4 years instead of 2.5 years based on the numbers discussed above. But the longer period could be based on the time it takes to find good viens and an average quality mine. In my present situation, we have a rich mine already identified and accessible. So perhaps shaving 1 to 1.5 years off is justifiable.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
it seems Angry Golem Games has done some tables and calculationd for us DWARVES & MINING #4 – D&D MINING GUIDE – MINING OUTPUT – ANGRY GOLEM GAMES
Cool.

So using the table in the free sample of their book posted at the link you shared, we are looking at 35 to 260 gp per week per miner from a gold mine, depending on the quality of the miner. If we go with the 30 miners assumed necessary to work a mine from the Magical Medieval Society Western Europe (MMSWE) book (and I don't know who based in history that number is) we get 1,050 to 7,800 per week.

Based on the posted YouTube video I got to 6,666 per month, which is 1,538 per week, which is on the lower end of the Angry Golem Games Dwarves & Mines numbers--but it makes sense that Dwarves would be more efficient than historical humans.

For the MMSWE book est of 50,000 per year, we get 962 gp / week, Magical Europe is doing worse than estimated historical Europe.

I'm going to just go with 6,666 per month until they exhaust the mine in 2.5 years, just because my players will think that there must be something cursed about it, despite the math.
 

MNblockhead

A Title Much Cooler Than Anything on the Old Site
The 5E Survivalist's Guide to Spelunking also has a section on mining. I don't own a copy of the book, so can't comment on the quality of the rules.

I don't have the book either and I just spend $30 on a PDF of Magical Medieval Europe. Not going to invest more money into calculating fantasy gold. But I'll book mark for a future pay day.
 

Stormonu

Legend
The 1E DMG had an extensive section on mining.
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