Gold mining refers to any method or technique used to remove gold from the earth. With gold prices tripling in the last five years, a boom in the interest of prospecting for gold has hit the nation. With many people losing their jobs over this same time period, some have even turned to gold prospecting as a means to pay the bills.
While the idea of gold mining for a living might sound enticing, you may not want to quit your day job just yet. Just as it was in the old days, uprooting your family in order to find the treasure can quickly lead to disappointment. If you’re interested in becoming a gold seeker, learn as much as you can about gold mining, and think of it as a fun hobby that will get you outdoors and enable you to enjoy the fabulous scenery, and eventually your hard work could pay off in a big way.
To start, here is a look at the methods used in gold mining:
- Placer Mining
Placer mining is the type of mining done in a stream, or on the banks of a stream. There are several methods of placer mining that can be used:
- Gold panning is one of the earliest methods of gold mining, and it’s an effective way to collect gold from stream beds. This is an excellent technique for beginners, and while it is possible to collect a good amount of gold this way, serious gold miners use this method for sampling in order to locate richer deposits where more productive mining processes can be applied. As gold is heavier than most other sediments and gravel in the stream, proper agitation in the water will cause the gold to sink to the bottom, while the lighter material will rise to the top. Eventually, all that is left in the pan are the heaviest materials, including the gold.
- Sluicing is a technique that uses a sluice box to extract the gold once a potentially rich deposit is located along the stream bed. The box works like a gold pan on a larger scale. This piece of gold mining equipment has been used for over a hundred years.
- Dredging is an even more powerful approach. Although it’s mostly been replaced by modern gold mining equipment, it is basically an underwater vacuum that sucks gravel, sand, silt, and (hopefully) gold through a hose.
- A rocker box, or cradle, is similar to a sluice box but uses less water.
- Hard Rock Mining
Hard rock mining is just what it sounds like. Instead of searching for gold in loose sediment, it involves extract the gold that is encased within a rock. With much of the gold to be found located inside quartz veins deep within the mountains, hard rock miners tunnel deep into the mountains in order to reach it.
Today, most individuals who are interested in gold mining will be found using one of the placer mining techniques.
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