The caster used this spell to determine the location of a single type of ore or mineral per casting, revealing the direction and distance of the material to the caster. Additionally, the relative amount of material present at the location was also revealed. It could locate anything from a heap of coins to a vein of ore, and penetrated stone and other barriers and obstacles.
It was common for larger quantities of the material to hide smaller quantities in the same area, forcing the caster to focus their concentration as he or she approached the location.
In addition to verbal and somatic components, this spell required a small magnet, a vial of weak acid, and a small portion of the material that the caster wished to detect. By 1372 DR, one only needed the sample material, but it had to be at least 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms). An unworked sample meant only unworked metals were found, like ore deposits and mineral veins, while a refined sample permitted refined metals to be discovered. A caster could choose a new sample mid-spell and so find a different metal.