Alberta Gold Equipment: Everything you need to know about gold prospecting

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Alberta Gold Equipment: Everything you need to know about gold prospecting

Gold is one of the most valuable assets on earth. Although it is no longer a primary form of currency, it is still a solid, long-term investment that is relevant today.

Nowadays, gold can be found in virtually everything—from decorative jewellery to smartphones and medicine. Due to its high value in the market, gold prospecting became a popular activity among many people who want to search for this valuable item. 

While many of us spend our free time relaxing or going out with friends, gold prospectors normally spend their weekends or vacations in search of these yellow metals. If you’re interested to know more about ‘gold prospecting’, then let us help guide you in this article.

What is gold prospecting?

Gold prospecting is the act of exploring new gold deposits. There are different methods that people use to efficiently find these materials. It has become a popular outdoor activity in Western countries today.

Methods of gold prospecting

Placer mining

Placer mining is the technique where people try to accumulate gold in a ‘placer deposit’ and then extract it. ‘Placer deposits’ are made of relatively loose materials that involve the use of water to find gold.

Panning

For people who want to get their hands on real gold and have some exercise outdoors, ‘gold panning’ is a wonderful new hobby you can do. This method is not only inexpensive but is also easy to operate. While it is not the fastest way to find gold, it is a beautiful tradition that can offer substantial returns for keen gold enthusiasts.

Gold panning is a ‘manual technique’ used for separating gold from other deposits. They normally fill wide pans with sand and gravel to see if it contains any gold. The pan is immersed in water and shaken to sort the gold from any other materials. Since gold is much denser than rock, it instantly sinks to the bottom of the pan.

If you’re a beginner, we highly recommend it since it is the easiest and quickest technique for searching for gold. Moreover, this is often marketed as a tourist attraction on former gold fields for visitors.

Sluicing

Using a sluice box to extract gold from placer deposits has long been a very common practice in small-scale mining. Sluicing uses a tool called a ‘sluice box’ to separate gold from the gravel as they mine in a river or creek. A sluice box is a metal, wood, or plastic channel that has ‘riffles’ (device to catch gold). It is designed to create dead zones in the current to allow gold to drop out of suspension.

This method usually includes diesel powered, earth moving equipment, including excavators, bulldozers, wheel loaders, and rock trucks.

Dredging

Although this dredging has largely been replaced by modern techniques, some small-scale miners still use ‘suction dredges’. These are small machines that float on the water and are operated by one or two people. A suction dredge is made up of a sluice box supported by rafts, attached to a suction hose which is controlled by a miner working beneath the water.

This type of gold mining is still popular today due to its low cost, as each rock is moved only once. It has a low environmental impact, as no stripping of vegetation is necessary, and all process water is fully recycled.

Rocker box

The rocker box, also called a ‘cradle’, uses less water than a sluice box and is well suited for areas where there is a little amount of water. By producing a rocking motion, it provides the water movement needed for separation of gold in placer material.

Hard rock mining

Hard rock gold mining extracts gold encased in rock, rather than fragments in loose sand. Compared to other techniques, this method produces most of the world’s gold. Other gold mines use ‘underground mining’, where the ore is extracted through tunnels or shafts. For 

Today, ‘South Africa’ has the world’s deepest hard rock gold mine since it is located up to 3,900 metres (12,800 ft) underground. At such depths, the heat is unbearable for humans, so air conditioning is needed for the safety of the workers.

Byproduct mining

Byproduct mining is similar to hard rock mining, however, they commonly use underground mining tunnels. In this method, gold is only secondary. The main purpose of byproduct mining is the recovery of copper, sand, gravel or other products.

How to find gold 

  • For those people who are just starting to mine gold, you may have a difficult time applying the different methods mentioned above. Luckily, there are a few simple techniques that can make the process of finding gold much easier. Before you start your prospecting journey, you first need to have a basic understanding of the physics which can serve to create the ‘placer deposits’ you seek. Placer deposits are a natural concentration of heavy minerals caused by the effect of gravity on moving particles.
  • When a prospector is searching for places to find gold, the most common method is to look for large obstacles that would block the movement of water. Some of them include large rocks or boulders, man-made obstructions, sand bars and streams. You must always search for placer deposits on the upstream side of the obstructions.

Where can you find gold?

There are many areas where finding gold is a common occurrence. There are two categories for gold that are normally found in these types of places.

  • Primary gold is often located in rock formations, which eventually become mines if there is a substantial amount of gold. For these types of gold, it is most likely that the gold will be found alongside other valuable minerals, like quartz and silver. Many mining companies benefit from this and sell gold to consumers at a high price.
  • Secondary gold is normally located in small waterways that have run through these rock and mineral formations. When the current is strong enough for streams, rivers and creeks can be able to carry pieces of gold, often referred to as small nuggets or flakes, down through the path. Since the gold is carried from the formation down the waterway, pieces of it settle on the beds or floors which get covered in dirt and sand. While it is an uncommon occurrence, some people have found rather large nuggets of gold panning these waterways.

In this day and age, the world’s largest source of gold is located in the ‘Witwatersrand basin’. This place in South Africa has produced a large amount of the world’s gold we now see today. Moreover, it is believed that there are still about 40% of the basin that has yet to be mined and still holds much more gold.

What is gold used for?

Gold has played a major role in boosting the economies of many nations. Apart from jewellery and other luxurious materials, it is used for a wide variety of medical and industrial processes.

  • The precious metal, also known as ‘gold’ has been used in many ways over the centuries. While the most common use has traditionally been the creation of coins, bullion and jewellery, gold has a variety of less typical uses.
  • In other far eastern cultures, gold leaf, flakes and dust are eaten for deemed health benefits and as social status of wealth. While this is commonly used by many far eastern cultures, ingesting elemental gold in this manner has not been proven to offer any significant impact on one’s health. One thing we do know is that consuming large doses of the gold plated dish can become toxic.
  • Gold can be used for modern medicine in its ‘salt’ or ‘radioisotope’ forms. These kinds of gold can be used on the body when taken orally or via injection as a medical treatment to cure severe cases of rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis and other conditions. The gold isotope, ‘gold-198’, is also used for the treatment of cancer.
  • Gold is frequently fused with other metals for use in modern dentistry. The gold can be applied for dental work, including fillings and crowns, is predominantly white gold or gold alloys. When this material is used, the purity of the gold is usually 15 carat or higher.

Due to its special properties, gold has become a popular choice in the fields of industry and electronics. All modern appliances, from computers to mobile phones, have some gold content. Moreover, the fact that ‘electromagnetic radiation’ is reflected by gold has made it a popular choice in protecting expensive equipment that may be exposed to ‘infrared light’ or other high-level electromagnetic radiation sources.

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