Placer Deposits

placer-depositsWe are now going to dig into all of the various methods of actually recovering gold from the earth.  There are many ways of doing this and much of it depends on where you are looking for the gold.  In this case, we will discuss placer deposits.  So what is a placer deposit?  Let’s check it out.

In geological terms, placer deposits are areas where very valuable minerals are accumulated and collected.  This is done by gravity, which separates the minerals, hopefully gold in our case, from the rest of the soil during the sedimentary processes that occur while the water in a stream is rushing about.  This term is derived from the Spanish language word placer, which has the definition of “alluvial sand.”  Alluvial sand is basically loose soil that has been removed, reshaped, and redeposited somewhere, in this case it is deposited in placer deposits where we can easily sift through it and find out precious gold nuggets.

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Peak Gold

peak-goldPeak Gold is a concept, which is accepted as fact by most geologists, that talks about the total amount of gold encased in the planet.  Once we reach the halfway mark, which is to say that production has reached its maximum rate of extraction, then there will be a decline in gold extraction and production as it will become more rare to find and work with.

This decline in the production is not a temporary phenomenon.  It is terminal.  There will eventually be no more gold left to be found by anyone, and especially by us small timers.  This whole idea comes from an economical idea called the Hubbert peak of any commodity or resource.  Luckily, unlike some resources that are destroyed when they are consumed, gold is recycled and reused.  Once we extract all of the gold, we will still have all of the gold, although it is likely to ultimately end up all locked away in some government facility.

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History of Gold Mining

history-of-mining-goldWe are all interested in finding, mining, and panning for gold.  This has been going on for a long time, especially in the United States since the mid-1800′s during the gold rush in California, Georgia, and Tennessee.  There is a current, smaller scale gold rush going on since the television networks have started syndicating shows about the topic, such as Gold Rush: Alaska, Gold Fever, and Prospecting America.  But what about a long, long time ago when the first people thought, “Hey, we all like these precious metals and stones from out of the ground.  I’m going to get rich by finding my own!”  Let us discuss the history of gold mining deeper…

Nobody really knows when people first began trying to find gold, but we do have some dates on old artifacts created out of gold.  These were discovered in Bulgaria at the Varna Necropolis.  The gold artifacts were found in graves which have been dated to some time around 4500 BCE.  This tells us that gold prospecting and gold mining is in face at least 6000 years old if not closer to 7000 years.

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Hard Rock Mining

hard-rock-miningHard rock mining is an underground mining method that is used to mine extremely hard materials, such as those containing ores such as the valuable metals we are going after, specifically gold.  The excavation of these hard golds, silvers, diamonds, and other minerals requires a few things that we will be discussing and we will also mention the methods and techniques applied, as they are very different from the placer mining we have been discussing at length.  Let us explore.

The first obvious thing you need to work on underground hard rock mining is underground access.  There are ways to get this done.  There can be what is called a decline, which involves a tunnel with either spirals downward or slowly heads towards the target at a slight angle.
These are started into a rock side or the side of an already dug cave.  There will often be load-bearing supports brought in to help keep everyone safe.  Another method is just a mine shaft, which is a vertical well-type hole dug next to the body of rock you will be working on.  You can also haul the ore out this way as well with buckets.  Finally, there are adits, which are horizontal caves or excavations dug level and to the side of ore bodies where you don’t need any kind of ramp or spiral decline.

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Gold Wave Table

gold-wave-tableWe are going to continue talking about placer deposits and how to recover gold from these using methods known as placer mining.  We have discussed lots of ways to help you sort through giant rocks and how to move through massive amounts of soil at once.  But the one thing we haven’t replaced is gold panning.  Up to this point we’ve been talking about gold panning everything by hand.  What a pain!  Regardless how much we automate the rest of the process, we have to still pan out gold?  Thank goodness for the gold wave table!

The gold wave table essentially pans out the gold for us.  We can walk away and it will pan while we drink coffee and read the newspaper!  So how does this thing work?  Well, have you ever seen those gambling games where you drop quarters in and the machine pushes the quarters off a ledge and then off of another ledge and hopefully then you win?

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