The Different Methods of Gold Mining

Gold mining is one of the oldest trades of man. Since gold was discovered, people have devised a lot of ways to extract and separate them from other materials. Some of these processes may be crude and simple, but they were effective especially when this precious metal was still easier to find. Here are the most common methods people use to extract gold:

1. Panning

This is the original and the oldest technique used by early miners to separate gold from rock. It was developed in 1848 by Isaac Humphrey, a pioneer gold miner from Coloma, California.

Gold panning is a slow and dreary process. This was performed by gathering rocky materials and bringing them to a nearby creek where they are carefully washed and swished with the use of a metal pan filled with water. This allows gold particles to sink to the bottom of the pan, separating it from the rock and pebbles.

2. Cradle

This is another method developed by Isaac Humphrey. The procedure involves the use of a wooden box with a ridged bottom. A section of the box is enclosed and covered with hessian cloth to prevent large particles from falling over to the ridge. Small rocks and pebbles are placed in the special section of the box and wash them water. Then the miner shakes the box to allow the gold to fall over to the ridge.

3. Dry blowing

This method uses two pans. One is filled with dust materials which the miner holds. Then he slowly pours the dust while the wind is blowing. The wind blows away the dust and the gold is believed to land to the second pan below. This method was proven ineffective because the miners realized that the wind can still blow gold away together with the dust and dirt.

4. Shaft mining

Shaft mining is performed by a digging shaft of up to 150 feet deep to find gold. Although this method is more of a trial and error basis, early miners applied it only when the prospector is confident that there’s gold in the area. This method of finding gold relies more on luck than objective judgment.

5. Puddling

This method uses a large container with water, and clay would be placed inside. The miner then stirs the container with a wooden stake to separate the gold. The dissolved soil and water is taken out of the container to allow the miner to see if gold is present at the bottom.

6. Dredging

Dredging involves the use of a large bucket to scoop rocks and sediment from the river bed. The dredge is then carefully sifted and sorted in order to find gold. The materials are returned to the river when the sifting is done.

7. Open Pit Mining

This process involves the removal of earth from the surface and moves it somewhere to be tested for the presence of gold. As the excavation continues, the pit becomes bigger and miners take regular sampling of the earth at different levels. This method also uses explosives to break rocks that might be too hard for mechanical equipment to remove.

8. Underground Mining

Underground mining is the process of extracting gold and other metals below the earth’s surface. Miners do it by creating tunnels up to 1,000 meters deep into the earth. They then create horizontal tunnels at various depths and work along these tunnels to find gold. This is the most dangerous and most expensive of all gold mining methods.