Gold mining: how it works?

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Gold mining uses different techniques, from simple panning to hard rock mining with pickaxes. Panning is the best-known but produces the fewest results. Tourist attractions recreate the experience. Hard rock mining is serious and involves chipping away at rock. Other techniques involve cradles or crushing quartz with machinery or animal labor.

Gold mining can use different techniques, depending on the situation involved and the type of mining being done. Some techniques and tools are relatively simple, so much so that almost anyone could do it. Other techniques will be very detailed and demanding, requiring extensive experience and specialized gold mining equipment.
One of the simplest types of gold mining is the technique known as panning. Gold mining with this technique requires no more equipment than a simple pan and is, perhaps, the best-known type of mining. Ironically, it may also be the technique that produces the fewest results. To use this technique, all you need to do is find a pan and a pile of dirt or manure. In most cases this is done by rivers. Sediments are collected and placed in the pan. The water is used to wash the lighter materials, leaving the heavier metals, hopefully gold, at the bottom of the pan.

In popular culture, the panning method of gold mining has resonated with many people. Indeed, in areas where gold mining was popular, tourist attractions try to capitalize on that history by offering to recreate that experience. This is, perhaps, one of the reasons why the mental image of gold panning stays so strong in people’s minds.

Gold mining from hard rock is another popular technique, used among those who were really serious about gold and mining. When people think of mining in California, they often think of this. In this case, miners worked in the mine using pickaxes and other equipment to chip away at the hard rock from the mountain faces. The hope was that precious metals would also be found among ordinary rock. This technique, or one like it, is probably the best way to find significant amounts of gold in many places around the world.

Another common technique is to use a cradle-like device to move the heavier sediments to a screen at the bottom. Often, this technique also involves the use of water, which can encourage heavier particles to descend through the balance wheel. Therefore, this technique was also used near a river or lake, or at least in a place where water was easily accessible.

One very sophisticated technique, which required the use of machinery or animal labor, involved crushing quartz rocks to find gold. In the past, this was done using a spindle and using horses or oxen to turn the spindle, which ground up the rocks and possibly revealed the gold. This technique has been perfected and often used in Mexico.

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