There are two basic types of miners; the placer miner and the deep hole or hard-rock miner. The placer miner is the miner most depicted in American folklore. When Americans think miner they are usually thinking of a placer miner or “Prospector,”- he is the seeker, the true prospector for gold. He usually works alone looking for nuggets or flakes in the sand and gravel of river beds or small outcroppings of exposed bedrock on the sides of valleys.
The hard-rock miner extracts gold from solid rock. This requires digging tunnels or shafts deep into the earth to remove the gold bearing ore. This also requires a large workforce and large amounts of capital to finance the smelting or crushing operations needed to extract the gold from the ore.
The placer miner is the adventurous individual looking for the one big strike to make it rich, whereas the hard-rock miner is in it of the long term profit of a good business venture.