When it comes to gold mining, most of us will get our yellow metal by sifting through sands and gravels along rivers and streams. This is called placer mining. It is due to the geological age of the earth that this is even possible. All gold deposits started as hardrock formations...and stayed that way until there were earthquakes, rivers, glaciers, tidal waves and a lot of earth movement which eroded mountains and ground down the rock into it's smallest form; dust. Trapped in all this rock were veins of gold, typically in quartz. These veins were also pulverized down into small pieces in nugget, flake and flour size. Because gold is so heavy, it settles to the bottom of our rivers, streams and any deep depression or crevice. This is where placer mining comes in. When we sift through all this sand and gravel to separate the gold, we are actually looking back at the earth's history. I know, I know, that's nice; now show us a faster way to get at this gold.
There have only been a few REAL innovations in the gold mining community in the past two hundred years.
1) High processing capacity.
2) Much easier than using a shovel.
3) Works under water.
4) Cleans to bare rock.
1) Illegal in many States.
2) It can wreck the environment if used irresponsibly (lay waste to fish spawning area) although most miners use dredges responsibly.
3) You must have a driver at the nozzle end.
4) You can only use it under water.
5) You can't work some rich waterways due to the current and other hazards.
Gold Suction Pumps:
I am a little biased here. I have seen the gold that can be extracted using the Gold Recovery Pump and the Gold Hornets.
There are many scenarios where one of these pumps can multiply the amount of gold you will take home. This type of gold pump has changed the way placer mining is done. It has also changed the volume of yellow wealth you can easily recover in a short time.
Lastly, the other major improvement in discovery and removal of coarse gold has been:
1) Relatively fast.
2) Good at finding heavy large nuggets.
3) Works wet or dry.
4) Don't need a lot of extra equipment.
1) Always seem to need more batteries.
2) Can't easily "look" under water and pockets between rocks.
3) Relatively fragile.
4) Will only detect nuggets on the larger size at any distance of depth.
I am not trashing metal detectors as they definitely have their place, but, as an additional tool in the miners bag and not a main stay unless you are walking in a dry desert stream-bed for miles. Old water worn gullies and low ancient water ways can contain some real surprises. if you can imagine how much gold is in the centre of a large river, well, picture that same high flow rate on an ancient river that has totally dried up. hence the incredible finds in what appears to be "dry ground".
Whatever your preference for finding and extracting gold, whether it is sluicing, panning, dredging or using a metal detector, there is still a lot of gold to be found out there. Read my write ups like Ancient Riverbeds and High Benches or Gold Mining Northern Rivers and you will see I do my best to reveal new methods to gold mine as well as new areas and places to search for our heavy yellow friend.
Understanding how nature behaves through time and a little geology (in layman's terms) will make our hobby or business an amazing success. before you try to mine anything be a discoverer first. Go where others usually don't (safely). Check for black sand and iron pyrite (bring a magnet). Find a new gold location and stake a claim. Most of all; don't be afraid of checking out new spots.
A Brief Background
Gold can be found free in nature, but, is usually associated with silver, quartz, calcite, lead, tellurium, zinc and copper. Sea water contains approximately one milligram of gold per ton of water.
Gold is the most malleable and ductile of all known metals. One ounce of gold can be worked into a sheet measuring five meters flat. Gold can be flattened as thin as .000127 millimeters or about 400 times thinner than a human hair.
Pure gold is soft and usually mixed with other metals like:
- and palladium
to increase its strength.
The amount of gold in the mix is measured with a unit called a carat. A carat is equal to one part in 24, so a 14 carat gold ring contains 14 parts pure gold and 10 parts other metals.
Gold is a good conductor of heat and electricity as well as being very corrosion resistant.
Gold can be used for a multitude of uses such as:
- electroplating conductors
- reflective telescope mirrors
- reflective coating on skyscraper windows
- along with many many more uses.
It has been said that gold is where you find it! Found gold is welcomed by all races and stands the test of time as rarified wealth by all who possess it.