How To Mine Gold
If you’ve ever wondered how to mine gold you need to know that there are several ways to get the job done. The major factors in deciding how to best mine for gold in any particular location are how accessible is the gold and who is mining the gold. An individual is far more likely to pan for more accessible gold than to engage in hard rock mining. But if you want to mine for gold, here are the tried and true options.
- Metal Detecting. For the average person, metal detecting is probably the most accessible method of mining gold. This method is used specifically for the mining of “placer gold”. Placer deposits are found in streams or dry stream beds. With a good metal detector, a person can find gold several feet below the surface. After that the gold can be dug up (if in a large enough quantity), or another method may be used to separate the gold from the material around it.
- Panning. Panning is another popular way to mine gold, as the materials needed are readily available to anyone. (Anyone who has seen a movie with an old prospector has seen this method in action.) A wide shallow pan is filled with sand and gravel that may contain gold. The pan is then submerged in water. After shaking, the gold, being denser than rock, settles to the bottom. This is not a practical method for commercial gold mining, but can be great fun for hobbyists.
- Sluicing. Sluicing is a slightly more complex way to mine gold, and is more likely to be used my small mining companies than individuals. The concept here is similar to panning. Gold-bearing material is sifted using streaming water in a man made channel. Ridges at the bottom of the channel catch the heavier gold, as lighter materials are washed away.
- Dredging. Dredging pulls materials up from a bottom of a stream. This method uses a suction hose and a sluice box (supported on pontoons) to separate gold from other materials. Dredging is a less common form of gold mining. It is restricted to certain times of year to avoid interference with fish spawning.
- Hard Rock Mining. Hard rock mining is the type most commonly used by the big mining companies. Here we move away from the placer deposits to remove the gold buried deep in solid rock. Hard rock mining may involve large open pits or a system of tunnels or shafts. In the 1930's this type of mining involved picks and a lot of back breaking labor, but modern mines use a combination of big machinery and explosives to get to the gold. Once the ore is pulled up, the rock is crushed, ground, shaken, sifted, and combined with chemicals to extract the gold.
- By-Product Mining. "Accidental" gold mining. By-product mining is not really a different type of gold mining, but a term for when another ore is being mined, and gold is found along with it. Seems like a great bonus.
If you know where to look, and how to get to it, mining gold can be fun and profitable. Whether you are a part-time prospector or looking to get into the big business of gold mining, remember "there's [still] gold in them thar hills."