Gold mining is the
process of mining gold or gold ore from the ground.
There are several techniques and processes by which gold
may be extracted from the earth.
Gold panning is the
easiest technique for searching for gold, but is not
commercially viable for extracting gold from large
deposits, except where labor costs are very low or gold
traces are substantial. Panning is often marketed as a
tourist attraction on former gold fields. Before large
production methods are used, a new source must be
identified and panning is useful to identify placer gold
deposits to be evaluated for commercial viability.
Using a sluice box to extract gold
from placer deposits has long been a common practice in
prospecting and small-scale mining. A sluice box is
essentially a man made channel with riffles set in the
bottom. The riffles are designed to create dead zones in
the current to allow gold to drop out of suspension. The
box is placed in the stream to channel water flow.
Gold-bearing material is placed at the top of the box.
The material is carried by the current through the box
where gold and other dense material settles out behind
Although this method
has largely been replaced by modern methods, some
dredging is done by small-scale miners using suction
dredges. These are small machines that float on the
water and are usually operated by one or two people. A
suction dredge consists of a sluice box supported by
pontoons, attached to a suction hose which is controlled
by a miner working beneath the water.
extracts gold encased
in rock, rather than fragments in loose sediment, and
produces most of the world's gold. Sometimes open pit
mining is used, such as at the Fort Knox Mine in central
Alaska. Barrick Gold has one of the largest
open-pit gold mines in North America located on its
Goldstrike property in northeastern Nevada. Other gold
mines use underground mining, where the ore is extracted
through tunnels or shafts.
Byproduct Gold Mining
Gold is also produced by mining in
which it is not the principal product.