Is there any greater dividing topic among small scale miners than, "Which is a better mat system, Dream Mat or Gold Hog." Each camp has it's adherents and if you read any Facebook Group or Forum, the opinions are plenty. I mean, people are passionate about their mats!
After selling and using each mat system in the field and under numerous conditions, I decided Sunny Mountain Prospectors should weigh in, but instead of addressing differences in performance, we wanted to explore the underlining value of each mat. Dare we enter the fray? In the words of Jeff Williams, "C'mon let's go!"
Which Mat Performs Better?
Usually, this is the primary topic of discussion between the Gold Hog Camp and the Dream Mat Camp. While YouTube videos tend to show major differences in performance, our field tests tells us differently. In fact, we found that while the Dream Mat may perform slightly better in certain conditions, the performance difference was marginal at best. In some cases, Gold Hog mats performed much better. This was clearly evident when we were running material with larger pieces of magnetite. While the Dream Mat failed to clear the larger pieces of magnetite, the Gold Hog mats had no issue rolling the heavier minerals out of the box. This led us to consider the cost/benefit of each matting system and this is where we see a huge difference between the two mats.
Cost Benefit Analysis: Gold Hog vs. Dream Mat
If you are reading this you've more than likely watched a few videos, read some of the fervent rantings and had to weed through a lot of anecdotal results. At the end of the day, it comes down to math.
As of this writing, gold is trading at $1,797/troy ounce or $57.78/gram. Now, let us assume that the average prospector/recreational miner using a non-powered sluice averages 1/8 gram (.125 gr.) per outing. Some days more, some days less, but based on my experience, this is a very reasonable number. If you are using a high-banker or suction dredge, obviously the calculation changes.
Now, let us assume Dream Mat captured 100% of the 1/8 gram, which it will not - (closer to 95%-97%) but for the sake our analysis, we will say it capture everything thrown at it. Now, let us say the Gold Hog mats are on the same ground and capture only 90% (actually capture rate is well north of 94%-96).
So here are our assumptions:
- Dream Mat captured 100% of the 0.125 grams of gold,
- Gold Hog captured 0.1125 grams of gold, or 90%
Of course, the assumption we are making is Dream Mat captures significantly more gold than Gold Hog - 100% vs. 90%. In truth, the capture rates for both mats are between 90%-97%, depending on the material, again, a negligible difference.
Now for the facts:
As of this writing, David Peterson's 12" Vortex Dream Mat sells for $123.50, plus shipping. Shipping usually averages $13 (if you are paying more than $13 for domestic shipping, you are paying too much). To outfit the same 12"x36" box using Gold Hog, it will cost you approximately $80 and about $9 in shipping.
Approximate Cost to Outfit a 12"x36" sluice box:
Dream Mat: $136.50
Gold Hog: $89.00
The difference between the two mat systems is roughly $47.50. Or 53% more for Dream Mat. Now back to the price of gold. If the Dream Mat user capture 0.125g of gold, or $7.23 and the Gold Hog user captures 90%, or $6.50, the Dream Mat users captured 73¢ more gold.
To break even, the Dream Mat user needs to go out 65 more times to offset the difference in price between the two mats. Let us look at this break-even in different terms. Assuming the average person mines 6 times per year, the break-even will be in 10 years at today's gold prices!!
While this analysis clearly gave the advantage to Dream Mat and assumed Gold Hog captured a measly 90%, it would be unfair if we did not use more realistic numbers.If we change capture rate to more realistic numbers, the break-even point gets even longer. Let us assume Dream Mat capture 97% of 0.125 grams or 0.1213g and Gold Hog captures 95% or 0.1188g. We're still giving Dream Mat the advantage. The dollar yield is $7 for the Dream Mat and $6.86 for Gold Hog, or a difference of 14¢. Since there is a difference of $47.50 between the two mats, it would take about 339 outing to offset the difference! It is pretty clear; Gold Hog offers a better bang for the buck. After all, it is just math.
Justifying the Price Difference
Given the above example, one must wonder why there is significant price difference, if the performance is negligible. While I do not think either company is "mining the miners", I do believe that production and material cost drive the huge difference in price.
Everything That Glitters....
As the old adage says, "All that glitters, is not gold". The same hold true when purchasing mining equipment. Too often small-scale miners focus on capture rate and not enough on value. It comes down to, "what gets the job done, and still remains affordable."
Should you purchase the Dream Mat? If you have extra cash to spend and you want the mat, get it. This article's topic is more about the cost/benefit of certain products in the mining industry and how Sunny Mountain tends to make recommendations. We hope this helps guide you and helps you look at equipment in a different light.
Until then, heavy pans, my friends.