Reality-show prospecting meets reality in Colorado
The Denver Post
In the reality TV series “Prospectors,” gem hunters on a peak in central Colorado face the dangers of high-altitude lightning, rock falls, cave-ins and whiteouts while digging for valuable rocks “just like their predecessors 150 years ago.”
In a more boring reality, these prospectors are also facing the modern-day danger of mining without permits.
This has not been part of the series’ story line, but three of the four individuals or families featured in the first season of The Weather Channel reality series have been violating mining laws as they were digging for gemstones on national TV. Two have been cited by state mining regulators and could be evicted from their claims if they fail to get permits. A third has agreed to apply for a permit — after the filming of 18 episodes.
“We don’t want to hammer people. But we want to get rules followed and reclamation done,” said Loretta Pineda, who directs the Colorado Division of Mining, Reclamation and Safety but has no role on the “Prospectors.”
The show has put a new spotlight on prospecting with the stories of “a ragtag gang of prospectors” that includes a sometimes bikini-clad fashion model, a hot-tempered digger nicknamed Rambo who is known to carry a loaded AK-47 while mining, a born-again Native American and a former Miss Wyoming.
They all escape being killed by lightning in nearly every episode while they use picks, sledgehammers and dynamite to get to gems such as topaz, aquamarine and rhodochrosite that are “rarer than diamonds” and “more valuable than gold.”
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