Methods of Gold Mining
Gold mining is an economically significant activity in many countries and has been used as a source of wealth gathering in societies for thousands of years. There are several different methods currently used for finding gold deposits and extracting the valuable metal from the Earth. Different types of gold mining equipment are used depending on the location and type of the gold mine. The method of gold mining used will vary depending on these factors. There are three main categories of gold mining: placer mining, hard rock mining, and byproduct gold mining.
Perhaps the most familiar gold mining method among laypeople is placer mining. This is the method of gold mining used to collect small, free-floating pieces of gold from within sediment, loose rocks, dirt, or sand. There are different kinds of placer mining. The most famous kind, panning, is performed when a prospector fills a gold pan with sediment or sand that may contain gold and submerges the pan in water. Because of it's density, the gold will sink to the bottom, allowing the remaining sediment to be washed away. Sluicing follows the same basic principle. A man made channel is created through which water full of sediment containing gold flows. There are slow areas built in which allow the heavier gold to settle to the bottom. There is also the lesser used method of dredging, in which a small machine floats on the surface of a body of water and suction is used to bring up sediment from the bottom, at which point the sediment is fed into a sluice box.
Another variety of gold mining is hard rock mining. This method is used to extract gold that is cased within rock rather than within loose sediment or gravel. To extract this kind of gold, a mine is dug into the ground and gold is separated from the rock using tools. Some mine shafts are incredibly deep. The deepest gold mine, located in South Africa, is over 3900 meters below the Earth's surface. Some gold is also produced in mines in which it is not the principle product. This is called byproduct gold mining. Gold deposits can often be found alongside copper deposits, and many copper mines also produce gold.