Placers can be found in virtually any area where gold occurs in hard rock
(lode) deposits. The gold is released by weathering and stream or glacier
action, carried by gravity and hydraulic action to some favorable point of
deposition, and concentrated in the process. Usually the gold does not
travel very far from the source, so knowledge of the location of the lode
deposits is useful. Gold also can be associated with copper and may form
placers in the vicinity of copper deposits, although this occurs less
Geological events such as uplift and subsidence may cause prolonged and
repeated cycles of erosion and concentration, and where these processes
have taken placer deposits may be enriched. Ancient river channels and
certain river bench deposits are examples of gold-bearing gravels that
have been subjected to a number of such events, followed by at least
partial concealment by other deposits, including volcanic materials.
Residual placer deposits formed in the immediate vicinity of source rocks
are usually not the most productive, although exceptions occur where veins
supplying the gold were unusually rich. Reworking of gold-bearing
materials by stream action leads to the concentrations necessary for
exploitation. In desert areas deposits may result from sudden flooding and
outwash of intermittent streams.
As material gradually washes off the slopes and into streams, it becomes
sorted or stratified, and gold concentrates in so-called pay streaks with
other heavy minerals, among which magnetite (black, heavy, and magnetic)
is almost invariably present. The gold may not be entirely liberated from
the original rock but may still have the white-to-gray vein quartz or
other rock material attached to or enclosing it. As gold moves downstream,
it is gradually freed from the accompanying rock and flattened by the
incessant pounding of gravel. Eventually it will become flakes and tiny
particles as the flattened pieces break up.
Some gold is not readily distinguishable by the normal qualities of
orange-yellow to light yellow metallic color and high malleability, where
it occurs in a combined form with another element, such as tellurium. Upon
weathering, such gold may be coated with a crust, such as iron oxide, and
have a rusty appearance. This "rusty gold," which resists amalgamation
with mercury, may be overlooked or lost by careless handling in placer
As mentioned before, the richest placers are not necessarily those
occurring close to the source.Much depends on how the placer materials
were reworked by natural forces. Streambed placers are the most important
kind of deposit for the small-scale operator, but the gravel terraces and
benches above the streams and the ancient river channels (often concealed
by later deposits) are potential sources of gold. Other types of placers
include those in outwash areas of streams where they enter other streams
or lakes, those at the foot of mountainous areas or in regions where
streams enter into broader valleys, or those along the ocean front where
beach deposits may form by the sorting action of waves and tidal currents.
In desert areas, placers may be present along arroyos or gulches, or in
outwash fans or cones below narrow canyons.
Because gold is relatively heavy, it tends to be found close to bedrock,
unless intercepted by layers of clay or compacted silts, and it often
works its way into cracks in the bedrock itself. Where the surface of the
bedrock is highly irregular, the distribution of gold will be spotty, but
a natural rifflelike surface favors accumulation. Gold will collect at the
head or foot of a stream bar or on curves of streams where the current is
slowed or where the stream gradient is reduced. Pockets behind boulders or
other obstructions and even moss-covered sections of banks can be places
of deposition. Best results usually come from materials taken just above
bedrock. The black sands that accumulate with gold are an excellent
indicator of where to look.
It should be kept in mind that each year a certain amount of gold is
washed down and redeposited during the spring runoffs, so it can be
productive to rework some deposits periodically. This applies chiefly to
the near-surface materials such as those deposited on the stream bars or
in sharp depressions in the channels. The upstream ends of stream bars are
particularly good places for such deposits. Where high water has washed
across the surface by the shortest route, as across the inside of a bend,
enrichment often occurs.
A rifflelike surface here will enhance the possibility of gold
concentration. In prospecting areas with a history of mining, try to find
places where mechanized mining had to stop because of an inability to
follow and mine erratic portions of rich pay streaks without great
dilution from nonpaying material. Smaller scale selective mining may still
be practical here if a miner is diligent.
Problems With Water
The need for a good, dependable, and plentiful supply of water increases
geometrically with the scale of operation in placer mining. Panning gold
requires very little water and can be done in a small tub if necessary. At
the other extreme, the hydraulic monitor, once in use, employed large
flows of water under high pressure, and sluicing at a large operation
could consume virtually all the water that might be available. One thing
the placer miner must keep in mind is the seasonal nature of stream flow.
This affects both the supply of water and also the problems of pollution
for downstream users and damage to stream ecology.
Various means are used to divert and impound water. Channels, pipes, and
flumes can beconstructed to conduct water where it is wanted. If supply at
a continuous flow is limited, storage must be provided, and placer
operation is then restricted to periodic activity and depends on the
capacity of the reservoir. A simple tank may make a suitable reservoir for
a small operation. Pumps are commonly used now where power is cheap
enough, and the recirculation enables use of a smaller supply of water.
Among the essential implements needed for prospecting are a pick; a
long-handled, round-pointed shovel; and a gold pan, preferably a 30-40cm
diameter pan which can usually be purchased at hardware stores in
gold-mining areas. A small prospector's pick is also useful, and a magnet
and a small amount of mercury should be carried to separate the gold from
black sand after panning.Specialty stores and manufacturers can provide
the more elaborate equipment, such as skindiving gear, ready-built
sluices, and mechanical gold separation devices, if desired.
In some cases, a bucket or wheelbarrow may be needed to transport
materials to the washing site, and in addition, a heavy .25-.75cm -mesh
screen is handy to separate out coarse materials. A small screen cut to
nest in the upper part of a gold pan can be useful for the same purpose in
panning. A gold pan the same size as the one used for panning will make a
most efficient nesting screen if a close pattern of holes is drilled in
the bottom. Holes usually should be .24-.75cm in diameter, depending on
the average size of the material being sampled. Distance between holes
should be about the same as the diameter of the holes. In some areas these
pans can be purchased readymade. For weighing gold, a small balance scale
graduated in milligrams may be desirable. A compact, folding type of
balance is available for this purpose.
A compass will be needed for establishing claim lines and for finding your
way out of the woods if lost. Adequate maps should be carried. A hand
magnifying lens is helpful in identifying minerals. Bags may be needed to
carry out samples; plastic bags are the best because samples may be damp.
A rocker may be transported to the site either assembled or in a
knocked-down condition. If mining is planned, lumber and other materials
to build a sluice may be carried to the site. (See construction details
under respective headings.) More elaborate equipment such as pumps, pipes,
hoses, and light plants might be taken in by pack animals if desired.
Personal gear includes a good pair of boots, sturdy clothing, weatherproof
gear, sleeping bag, tent, and such other things as one might want for
comfort and sanitation. A foam pad or air mattress adds comfort to
sleeping. A length of rope is useful for many purposes around camp, from
raising the food out of reach of animals to extracting a car from a
mudhole. For hiking, all necessary equipment for the period away from camp
should fit into a manageable backpack of some kind.
An ax, a flashlight, a knife, and matches are almost indispensable.
A water bucket is often required, and a good crosscut saw will be found
useful. Guns and fishing equipment can be taken to supplement the food
supply and to provide some additional recreation. Guns are seldom
necessary for protection from animals. A canteen with a 2-quart or larger
capacity is advisable in many areas, depending on dryness of the climate.
You will need water-purification tablets where streams are contaminated,
whether by grazing stock or for other reasons. A miner's lamp, which
consumes calcium carbide, is sold at some hardware stores and can be used
for a serviceable light, although most people when away from electricity
prefer gasoline or propane lamps. A carbide lamp will also be useful for
any underground work. The special miner's safety lamp is recommended
wherever air may be bad. Stoves that burn gasoline or pressurized gas are
in wide use in camping and even gas refrigerators may be taken along "to
cool the beer." (For low-budget operations, a swift-running stream will
serve this same purpose well.) For any length of time in the field, an
oven for baking is a valuable amenity. A reflector oven for use next to a
campfire can be made of light sheet metal and will give excellent results,
also serving as a place to keep food warm.
Freeze-dried foods are generally good and easy to carry and prepare,
although somewhat more expensive than most other foods. For estimating
pack weights, about 2 pounds of dehydrated and freeze-dried foods is
needed per person per day. Canned foods should be avoided when backpacking
because of their weight, but they are otherwise satisfactory. Disposal of
empty containers should be done with consideration to others who may
follow and wish an uncluttered landscape; burial is usually recommended.
Suggested food supplies for a prospector's camp include the following:
bacon, beans, cheese, salt, baking powder and soda, coffee, tea, onions,
potatoes, fruits, corn. peas. raisins, rice, flour, crackers, cereals,
butter or margarine, powdered milk, eggs, pancake and waffle mix, sugar,
syrup, and fresh meat and vegetables as practicable. Many other items can
be added to the list, but these are most of the basics. Utensils should
include a variety of dishes, silverware, a sharp knife, spatula, can
opener, frying pan, coffee pot, and several different sizes of pots and
pans. Towels, both paper and cloth, soap, scouring pads, and metal or
plastic tubs or basins will be needed for cleaning up.
Extra clothing should be included in your supplies for warmth and for
changes. Mosquito netting may be a virtual necessity in some areas, and
adequate amounts of a good insect repellent should be packed.
Wild animals are seldom dangerous except when provoked, but smaller ones
such as packrats can inflict considerable damage on camp gear and
foodstuffs. Poisonous snakes, spiders, ticks, scorpions, and the like
should be treated with traditional caution; their presence should be
anticipated in most areas. Learn to identify and avoid poison oak and
poison ivy' Knowledge of first aid is essential for dealing with
emergencies that might arise on an outing, and a study or review of the
subject should be included in any preparations.
Some of the personal hazards faced in the out-of-doors include twisted
ankles, lacerations from falling in brush, falls from slippery rocks or
crude bridges when crossing streams, breaking through floors in old
building ruins, and falls or cave-ins in old mine workings. Beware of bad
air in any old workings' Danger of drowning or being attacked by a
crocodile is always present when working around the deeper streams or
pools when placer mining.
Many types of first aid kits and equipment are on the market. The choice
of kit is one of size and variety of content. A snakebite kit is usually a
separate accessory and should be carried, even though it is rarely put to
use. Disinfectants, aspirin, fungicides, bandages, and similar items
should be included. For areas of considerable sunshine, tanning lotion,
sunglasses, and a hat are needed, and salt tablets should be taken as
designated to prevent heat prostration. Wearing a safety hardhat and
safety glasses may be advisable at times.
Panning for Gold
The standard gold pan is made of stiff sheet iron and is 35cmin diameter
at the top and 5-6cm deep. The rim is flared outward at an angle of about
50 degrees from the vertical. Smaller pans are used for testing, and it is
advisable for most panners to use either a 30-40cm size for handling ease.
Probably the 1.25cm is the most widely available. Frying pans or other
cooking utensils may also be used for washing out gold but are less
effective. Before any kind of container is used for panning it should be
cleaned thoroughly and all grease should be burned out. New pans generally
are greasy and should be heated over a fire until this coating is gone.
Even a rusty pan, if clean, can be used satisfactorily. In fact, the
roughness due to the pitting of the rust may assist in holding back the
There are different techniques and subtle variations in the art of
panning--experience teaches which is best. Those with wide experience and
much practice can recover the most gold with the least effort.It is
sometimes said that good panning technique lies in the action of the
wrists. After much practice the good panner should be able to save even
the very fine gold that may be nearly but not quite free from the black
The pan usually is filled level with the top, or slightly rounded,
depending somewhat upon the nature of the material being washed and the
personal preference of the panner. It is then submerged in water. Still
water 20-30cm deep is best. While under water the contents of the pan are
kneaded with both hands until all clay is dispersed and the lumps of dirt
are thoroughly broken. The stones and pebbles are picked out after the
fines are washed off. Then the pan is held flat and shaken under water to
permit the gold to settle to the bottom. The pan is then tilted and raised
quickly -- still under water -- so that a swirling motion is imparted and
some of the lighter topmaterial is washed off. This operation is repeated,
occasionally shaking the pan under water or with water in it until only
the gold and heavy minerals are left. With proper manipulation, this
material concentrates at the edge of the bottom of the pan. Care must be
taken that none of the gold climbs to the lip of the pan or gets on top of
Nuggets and coarse colors of gold can now be picked out readily with a
tweezer or with the point of a knife. Cleaning the black sand from the
finer gold is more difficult, but can be carried nearly or entirely to
completion by careful swirling of the contents as described above, always
watching to see that none of the colors are climbing toward the lip. This
part of the operation usually is done over another pan or in a tub so that
if any gold is lost it can be recovered by repanning.
The concentrates should be dried, and the black sands (composed largely of
magnetite) can then be removed by a magnet or by gently blowing them on a
smooth flat surface. If there is an excessive quantity of black sand, the
gold usually is amalgamated by putting a portion of a teaspoonful of
mercury in the pan. In sampling work, extra care should be taken to see
that no fine colors are lost. When mining, however, additional time needed
to insure that all colors are saved probably is not justified because the
value they add is so small.
A word should be said here about other minerals that you may see in your
gold pan. Pyrite ("fool's gold," an iron sulfide) and mica are often
mistaken for gold by the novice. Pyrite, which is usually a brassy yellow
to white color, will shatter when struck with a hammer and becomes a black
powder when finely ground. Mica, which may have a bright, bronzy
appearance, is distinguished by its light weight and flat, platy cleavage.
Both minerals are common in gold areas. Other minerals that will collect
with the gold and black sands because of high specific gravity include
ilmenite (iron-titanium oxide), hematite (nonmagnetic iron oxide),
marcasite (an iron sulfide), rutile (titanium oxide), scheelite (calcium
tungstate), wolframite (iron, manganese tungstate), tourmaline (boron and
aluminum silicate), zircon (zirconium silicate), chromite (iron and
chromium oxides), and cinnabar (mercury sulfide). If present in sufficient
quantity, these latter minerals may have some economic significance,
although efforts to recover them as byproducts are seldom worthwhile.
Native platinum, elemental mercury, lead shot, and similar materials are
also occasionally found in the pan.
Evaluation: Should You Invest And Mine?
This question becomes more difficult to answer as the size of the planned
operation increases.Estimation of the amount of gold recoverable and the
overall costs of investment and mining is no simple matter and calls for
highly experienced engineering skills for any moderate- to large-scale
project. Elaborate procedures of sampling and evaluation cannot be
followed by the small-scale operator because of the cost. Thus, his
decisions must be based on a variety of factors, not the least of which is
intuition. Needless to say, many mistakes have been made, with much
resultant waste of money and effort. Do not let what started out as a
recreational activity become your master instead of your servant.
Many methods of sampling are possible, including the simple panning of
gravel from surface exposures, churn drilling, test pitting and trenching,
shaft sinking, and drifting. As an aid in tracing possible gold-bearing
channels, geophysical techniques have been employed with some success, but
proper use of the typical instruments involved is generally reserved to
experts. Moreover, interpretation of results is seldom adequate to provide
any quantitative estimates, although the information gained can be useful
in planning an exploration program.
Panning and rocking (described later) are the basic means of determining
the recoverable gold content of placer materials. A fire assay, sometimes
made on a concentrate, provides a relatively complete estimate of the gold
content of the material, but a poor estimate of how much gold can actually
be extracted by conventional washing methods.
Thus, placer gold is seldom assayed, exceptto determine its fineness
(measure of gold purity). In estimating the value of gold in the pan after
washing a quantity of gravel, the technique of counting nuggets and
"colors" is normally followed. Generally, pieces worth more than 50 or 100
cents are considered as nuggets; smaller particles are colors. When skill
is developed in estimating the various sizes of particles, a good degree
of consistency can be achieved in the results.
Where samples can be obtained across a section of the bank exposed along a
creek, it is good practice to cut a vertical groove or channel of fairly
consistent width and depth. The sample may be cut from top to bottom, or
in segments comprising several different samples if the bank shows
distinct changes in materials. Bars may be sampled by digging a vertical
hole, clear to bedrock if possible, and panning the product. For surface
mining of "skim bars," sampling consists of simply taking a panful from a
favorable point and visually estimating the amount of similar material in
the vicinity. Clearly, there is not much accuracy in any of these methods,
but the deposition of gold in such locations is bound to be erratic
anyway. More representative sampling is usually possible in the larger
deposits where deposition and size of gold particles is more uniform or
Calculating What You Might Have
For the small-scale miner, sampling will usually be limited to taking a
panful here and there and possibly running a larger sample through a
rocker or sluice if panning discloses any gold. If colors are found, a
record should be made of the number and estimated size of colors per pan
and the approximate location. The sampling then progresses until one is
assured the prospects are good enough to warrant a mining operation of
some sort. A scale of sizes and approximate values of colors based on pure
gold at $350 an ounce is as follows:
(Note: Mesh = screen size in openings per square inch; minus 10- plus
20-mesh material will passscreen with 10 openings per square inch but be
stopped by screen with 20 openings.)
Coarse gold, plus 10 mesh: should be picked out and weighed individually,
value about $10 each
Medium gold, minus 10 mesh but plus 20 mesh: 2,200 colors per troy ounce,
value about two-thirds of a color to about 30 cents
Fine gold, minus 20 mesh but plus 40 mesh: 12,000 colors per troy ounce,
value about 3 colors to 1 cent. "Flour" gold, minus 40 mesh: 40,000 colors
per troy ounce, value about 10 colors to 1 cent. Differing fineness or
price will affect the values somewhat.
It is common to report panning results in cents per pan. So, assuming you
have determined that a "pan factor" of about 400 pans per cubic metre
(bank measure) for the 30cm pan is a suitable figure, multiplying the
cents-per-pan figure by 400 gives the estimated value per cubic metre.
Another means of estimating is to rank the colors into three groups, as
Number l: colors weighing over 4 milligrams
Number 2: colors weighing between 1 and 4 milligrams
Number 3: colors weighing less than 1 milligram
(Note: 31,103 milligrams equals 1 troy ounce.)
Scales will be needed to check the weights until the eye can judge the
sizes properly. It is recommended that particles over 10 milligrams be
weighed individually. A rough measure of value is one-tenth of a cent per
Thus, the value in a pan can be calculated using your visual count and
tally of the number of colors of each rank. After sufficient practice,
good estimates will come easily. Thickness has a great bearing on weight:
For instance, some gold might look large, but actually be flat, flaky, and
hence very light.
Determining the overall value of a deposit with any accuracy calls for a
knowledge of accepted practices and mathematical procedures for weighting
the values and sample intervals. It is important also to understand the
statistical principles of variation and distribution, which are beyond the
scope of this report. Generally, the practical prospector will take a few
measurements,make some crude calculations using his panning results, and
decide to stay or move on.
How To Go About Mining
When a site where gold is known to occur has been found, and after it has
been sampled and judged worthy of further effort, the ownership status
should be checked to assure that the ground is open for claiming. Then,
after staking adequate claims (or arranging to lease if the ground is not
open to claim), you are ready to consider mining. Whether mining permits
are required should be investigated, because placer operations of any size
may drastically change the local water quality. A simple operation may
have virtually no effect on a stream or surroundings, but when materials
amounting to more than a few cubic metres a day are handled, the possible
effects begin to become significant.
Choosing a Recovery Method
Among the simpler hand methods of recovering gold are the gold pan, the
rocker, the dip-box, thelong tom, and the sluice. Panning has been
described in a previous section, entitled "How to Look for Placers," and
will only be discussed briefly here. The pan is generally too slow to be
effective for anything more than prospecting. The rocker is a time-honored
device of the small-scale miner with limited means. The dip-box and long
tom might be considered more like simplified sluicing methods than
distinct methods in themselves. As a method, the long tom has never been
very popular but is described here for its possible historical interest.
Other methods used in specific circumstances would include the surf
washer, the dry washer, and skindiving.
The simpler methods all normally involve hand-mining operations (shoveling
and/or picking of the gold-bearing materials). Limited mechanization is
sometimes practical for moving and washing gravels in even the smallest
operation, and this possibility should not be overlooked. Even motorized
devices for panning are marketed by several manufacturers. Pumps and small
excavators can often be adapted to the small mining operation by the
The more complex methods, such as ground sluicing, hydraulicking, drift
mining, excavation using powered equipment, and dredging, require
considerable investment, knowledge, and experience; a full discussion of
these methods is beyond the scope of this report.
The choice of method depends primarily on the scale of operation and the
availability of water. These and other characteristics of the different
methods are discussed below.
Panning is the hardest way to wash gold from placer gravels, but it is an
inexpensive and completely mobile method. A person can dig with a pick and
shovel much faster than he can pan the material dug, so it pays to treat
only the highest grade products by panning once one has settled down to
An experienced person can wash about 10 large pans per hour, the
equivalent of approximately 1/2 to 1 cubic metre of gravel per day,
depending on how clean the gravel is. A level-full, standard 30cm pan
might contain roughly 22 pounds of dry bank gravel; there are
approximately 150 to 180 pans per cubic metre of gravel. More than twice
as many 30cm pans would be required per cubic metre. The top dirt or cover
is usually cast aside and the few centimteres of material directly above
bedrock and the material scraped from crevices is panned. Places to look
and the proper panning technique have been covered in earlier sections.
At least twice as much gravel can be worked per day with the rocker as
with the pan. The rocker or cradle, as it is sometimes called, must be
manipulated carefully to prevent loss of fine gold. With the rocker, the
manual labor of washing is less strenuous, but whether panning or rocking,
the same method is used for excavating the gravel.
The rocker, like the pan, is used extensively in small-scale placer work,
in sampling, and for washing sluice concentrates and material cleaned by
hand from bedrock in other placer operations. One to three cubic metres,
bank measure, can be dug and washed in a rocker per man-shift, depending
upon the distance the gravel or water has to be carried, the character of
the gravel, and the size of the rocker. Rockers are usually homemade and
display a variety of designs. A favorite design consists essentially of a
combination washing box and screen, a canvas or carpet apron under the
screen, a short sluice with two or more riffles, and rockers under the
sluice. The bottom of the washing box consists of sheet metal with holes
about 1.25cm in diameter punched in it, or a 1.25cm-mesh screen can be
used. Dimensions shown are satisfactory but variations are possible. The
bottom of the rocker should be made of a single wide, smooth board, which
will greatly facilitate cleanups. The materials for building a rocker cost
only a few dollars, depending mainly upon the source of lumber.
After being dampened, the gravel is placed in the box, one or two
shovelfuls at a time. Water is then poured on the gravel while the rocker
is swayed back and forth. The water usually is dipped up in a simple
long-handled dipper made by nailing a tin can to the end of a stick. A
small stream from a pipe or hose may be used if available. The gravel is
washed clean in the box, and the oversize material is inspected for
nuggets, then dumped out. The undersize material goes over the apron,
where most of the gold is caught. Care should be taken that not too much
water is poured on at one time, as some of the gold may be flushed out.
The riffles stop any gold that gets over the apron. In regular mining
work, the rocker is cleaned up after every 2 to 3 hours, or oftener when
rich ground is worked and gold begins to show on the apron or in the
riffles. In cleaning up after a run, water is poured through while the
washer is gently rocked, and the top surface sand and dirt are washed
Then the apron is dumped into a pan. The material back of the riffles in
the sluice is taken up by a flat scoop, placed at the head of the sluice,
and washed down gently once or twice with clear water. The gold remains
behind on the boards, from which it is scraped up and put into the pan
with the concentrate from the apron. The few colors left in the sluice
will be caught with the next run. The concentrate is cleaned in the pan.
Skillful manipulation of the rocker and a careful cleanup permit recovery
of nearly all the gold. Violent rocking should be avoided, so that gold
will not splash out of the apron or over the riffles.The sand behind the
riffles should be stirred occasionally, if it shows a tendency to pack
hard, to prevent loss of gold. If the gravel is very clayey it may be
necessary to soak it for some hours in a tub of water before rocking it.
Where water is scarce, two small reservoirs are constructed, one in front
and the other to the rear of the rocker. The reservoir at the front serves
as a settling basin. The overflow drains back to the one at the rear, and
the water is used over again.
The capacity of rockers may be increased by using power drives. Such a
device might be rocked by an eccentric arm at the rate of approximately
forty 15cm strokes per minute. The capacity of the typical machine with
two men working is 1 cubic metre per hour. Where gravel is free from clay,
the capacity may be as great as 3 cubic metres per hour. The cost of the
mechanized rocker and a secondhand engine for driving it is estimated at
The dip-box is useful where water is scarce and where an ordinary sluice
cannot be used because of the terrain. It is portable and will handle
about the same quantity of material as the rocker. Construction is
relatively simple. The box has a bottom of 2.5 by 30cm lumber to which are
nailed 2.5 by 30 cm sides and an end that serves as the back or head. At
the other end is nailed a piece approximately 2.5cm high. The bottom of
the box is covered with burlap, canvas, or thin carpet to catch the gold,
and over this, beginning 30cm below the back end of the box, is laid a 30
by 90cm strip of heavy wire screen of about 0.5cm mesh. The fabric and
screen are held in place by cleats along the sides of the box. Overall
length may be 2 to 3 metres, although nearly all gold will probably
collect in the first 1metre. The box is placed so the back is about waist
high; the other end is 15 to 30 cm lower. Material is simply dumped or
shoveled into the upper end and washed by pouring water over it from a
dipper, bucket, hose, or pipe until it passes through the box. The water
should not be poured so hard that it washes the gold away. Larger stones
(after being washed) are thrown out by hand, or a screenbox can be added
to separate them. Riffles may be added to the lower section of the box if
it is believed gold is being lost.
A long tom usually has a greater capacity than a rocker and does not
require the labor of rocking. It consists essentially of a short receiving
launder, an open washing box 2 to 4 metres long with the lower end a
perforated plate or a screen set at an angle, and a short sluice with
riffles . The component boxes are set on slopes ranging from 5-7cm per
30cm. The drop between boxes aids in breaking up lumps of clay and freeing
the contained gold.
A good supply of running water is required to operate a long tom
successfully. The water is introduced into the receiving box with the
gravel, and both pass into the washing box.
The sand and water pass through the screen's 1.25cm openings and into the
sluice. The oversize material is forked out. The gold is caught by the
riffles. The riffle concentrates are removed and cleaned in a pan.
Quicksilver may be used in the riffles if the gravel contains much fine
The quantity of gravel that can be treated per day will vary with the
nature of the gravel, the water supply, and the number of men employed to
shovel stones into the tom and then fork them out. For example, two men,
one shoveling into the tom and one working on it, might wash 6 cubic
metres of ordinary gravel, or 3 to 4 cubic m of cemented gravel, in 10
A tom may be operated by four men--two shoveling in, one forking out
stones, and one shoveling fine tailings away. Where running water and a
grade are available, a simple sluice is generally as effective as the long
tom and requires less labor.
A sluice is generally defined as an artificial channel through which flows
controlled amounts of water. In gold placering, the sluice includes
sluiceboxes which collect the gold by means of various configurations of
riffles, corrugations, mats, expanded metal, or the like, which trap the
heavier particles while allowing the waste to continue through.
An important part of any sluicing operation is its water supply, and where
water is not plentiful, pumps, pipelines, or even dams with special
headgates may be required.
Small-scale sluicing by hand methods has been called quite appropriately
shoveling-into-boxes. In contrast, in ground sluicing, usually a more
efficient operation, most of the excavation is accomplished by the action
of water flowing openly over the materials to be mined. In either case,
the materials pass through a sluice, where gold is collected behind
riffles. A variation of the sluicing technique, where water is stored and
released against or across the materials intermittently, is called
The sluicebox in its simplest form might be a 4m-long plank of 2.5-5cm
pine lumber, to which sides about 25-30cm high are nailed, with braces
secured at several places across the top. Larger sluices can be made with
battens to cover joints between boards where gold might slip out, and with
braces built around the outsides of the box for greater rigidity. To
provide for a series of boxes, the ends should be beveled or the units
tapered so that one will slip into the other in descending order and form
a tight joint. Four to eight such boxes in series would be a typical
installation. Two men hand-shoveling into sluiceboxes can wash 5 to 10
times as much gravel as could be put through a rocker in a day. The slope
of the sluice and the supply of water must be adjusted so that the gravel,
including larger cobbles, will keep moving through the boxes and on out.
Slopes of 10-15cm per 30cm box are normal, but if water is in short supply
the slope may be increased. Trestles are necessary to support the boxes
over excavated ground, gulleys, or swales.
Inside the boxes, various kinds of riffles may be employed, depending upon
availability of material and personal preference. The riffles, which go on
the bottom, are usually set crosswise in the box, but they can also be
effective when placed lengthwise, the concentrates settling between them.
They may be of wood, or of strap or angle iron, or a combination of the
two. Straight, round poles or a pattern of square blocks or stones can
serve for riffles. Rubber or plastic strips have even been used.
Durability is important for prolonged operations, so wood may be armored
with metal. Expanded metal, heavy wire screen, or cocoa mats make good
riffles for collecting fine gold.
A common height for riffles is 5-7cm ; they may be placed from one-half to
several cm apart. Fastening the riffles to a rack, which is then wedged
into place in the box, permits their removal. A tapered shape on the cross
riffle, with the thinnest edge to the bottom, tends to create an eddying
action that is favorable for concentration. Another way to achieve this
eddying action is to cant the riffle or even just the top of the riffle.
Burlap or blanket material is commonly placed under the riffles to help in
collecting fine gold. Mercury may be added to some sections of the sluice
if there is much fine gold, but care must be taken to prevent escape of
Sluice cleanups should be made at fairly regular intervals. After running
clear water until the sluice is free of gravel, riffles are removed in
sections starting at the upper end. With a thin stream of water, the
lighter of the remaining material is washed to the sections below. The
gold, heavy sands, and amalgam, if mercury has been used, are scraped up
and placed in buckets. This mixture then can be panned or cleaned up in a
rocker to obtain a final concentrate or amalgam. Feeding the Sluice
It is common in a small operation, when feeding the sluice, to place a
heavy screen or closely spaced bars of some sort across the section where
the gravels enter, to eliminate the larger particles, which are probably
barren anyway. The screen or bars (a "grizzly") should be sloped so the
oversize material rolls off to the side. The size of mesh or spacing will
depend upon the gradation of feed, butwould generally be in the range of
0.5-2.5cm, with 0.5cm being a common size. In larger operations a rotating
screen, or trommel, might be used. In a ground sluicing operation,
possibly all materials would be run through the sluiceboxes. Provisions
must be made for removing the oversize material, and, if required,
stacking it away from the work area.
If the gravel contains much clay it may be desirable to use a puddling box
at the head of the string of sluiceboxes. This may be any convenient
size--for instance, 1 metre wide by 2 metres long, with 10 to 15cm sides.
The clayey material is shoveled into this box and broken up with a hoe or
rake before being allowed to pass into the sluice. The importance of this
step is that if allowed through the sluice, the unbroken clay lumps may
pick up and carry away gold particles already deposited.
Usually, the shoveling-in method proceeds as follows:
After the boxes are set, shoveling begins at an advantageous point.
Experienced miners work out the ground in regular cuts and in
an orderly fashion.
Enough faces are provided so that shovelers will not interfere with
Provision is made to keep bedrock drained, and boulders and stumps
are moved a minimum number of times.
Cuts are taken of such a width and length that shoveling is made as
easy as possible.
The boxes are kept as low as possible so a minimum lift of gravel is
At the same time an adequate slope must be maintained for the gravel
to run through the boxes under the limitations of the available water.
Allowance for dump room must also be provided at the tail end
of the sluice.
Leaks in the sluice are stopped promptly, and shoveling is done in
such a manner that the sluice does not become clogged nor does water
splash out (Water in the pit hampers shoveling.)All material of a size
that will run through the sluice is shoveled in, and the oversize
material is thrown to one side.
Boulders from the first cut should be stacked outside the pit, on
barren ground if possible.
The width of a cut is usually limited to the distance a man can
shovel in one operation.
When shoveling from more than a couple of metres away, it is best to
set boards above and on the opposite side of the box; this increases
the efficiency of the shovelers.
The greatest height a man can shovel into a box is 2.5 to 3 metres,
and above 2 metres the efficiency of the shoveler is markedly reduced.
If the gravel is over 1 to 1.25 metres deep, it usually is excavated
in benches to facilitate digging and to permit the upper layers to be
raised a minimum shoveling height.
Where the gravel is shallow, wheelbarrows may be used. Another way
is to shovel the gravel onto a conveyor belt that discharges into a
trommel, discarding the oversize material and running the undersize
material through the sluice.
Where two or more persons are working in the same cut, the
height of succeeding benches is governed by the character of the
material being dug and the distance the gravel has to be lifted.
The sluice may be maintained on the surface of unworked ground or
supported on bents on the opposite side of the cut. After the first cut
the boulders are thrown onto the cleaned-up bedrock. Where cuts are run on
both sides of the sluice, the boxes are supported on bents as the ground
underneath them is dug out. At other places the boxes may be set on
bedrock and the dirt may be shoveled into the head of the sluice from
short transverse cuts at the upper end of the pit. Work usually begins at
the lower end of a deposit so that bedrock may be kept drained, and then
proceeds across the deposit by regular cuts. The length and order of the
cuts will depend upon local conditions. As heavy sands and gravel build up
deposits between the riffles in the sluice, it may be necessary to stir
these up to prevent packing and the consequent override of gold particles.
A tined implement such as a pitchfork is often convenient for this. Larger
stones that lodge in the sluiceway may be similarly removed.
The quantity of water available will influence the scale of operations and
the size of sluice used. A minimum flow of 30-40cm (about 800L per minute)
is required for a 30-cm-wide sluicebox with a steep grade. Smaller flows
than this can be utilized by storing the water in some kind of reservoir
and using the supply intermittently. A common practice followed where the
quantity of water is limited is to use a grizzly or screen over the sluice
to eliminate oversize material and thus increase the duty of the water.
Reduction in the amount of material to be treated by first running it
through a trommel to wash and screen out the coarse size is another
effective way to lower the water requirements.
Water usually is conducted via ditch to the sluice. However, if the ground
is rich enough it may be practicable to pump water for the sluice. The
feasibility of obtaining a gravity flow should first be investigated, as
the expense of pumping may be more than the cost of a long ditch, when the
cost is distributed over the metreage of gravel moved. A suitable number
of sluiceboxes or some other removal system may be used to transport the
tailings to a dumping ground away from the working area. A tailings or
settling pond may be required to maintain downstream water quality.
Ground sluicing utilizes the cascading effect of water to break down the gravel;
hence, the requirements for water are much greater. The chief application
of ground sluicing is to streambed deposits. Pipelines, flumes, or ditches
would be necessary if ground sluicing were applied to gravels higher up on
banks or terraces, and the larger scale hydraulic methods would then
become more favorable. If booming is to be done, a dam and reservoir are
needed. The dam is usually equipped with a gate mechanism that permits
either automatic or manual control and quick release of the impounded
water for maximum washing effect. The water may be passed over the upper
face of a gravel bank or diverted against the bottom in order to undercut
and carry away the gravel as the face of the bank breaks down. All
materials are channeled toward the sluice.
The natural flow of a stream can be used by diverting the current with
boards or simply with piled boulders. "Shears" can be constructed of 2.5
or 4cm-thick boards 4 metres long nailed to pairs of tripods so that the
boards slope back from the water flow at an angle of about 60 degrees. The
tripods are built in such a way that boulders can be piled inside the base
to hold them in place. A row of these shears may be used to divert the
force of the water against a bank, or two rows may be used to form a
The seasonal nature of stream flow in different areas must be kept in mind
when planning any placer operation. State and Federal agencies can provide
information on stream runoff for many of the more important streams,
information which will indicate the limitations in water supply that might
be expected due to seasonal changes.
Additional Methods Sometimes Used
The methods described below, particularly the surf washer, are limited in
application, but interest in them revives from time to time, so they are
included here. Many kinds of dry washers have been developed, some very
elaborate. Most dry-washing operations have a short lifespan, owing to the
erratic character if the deposits. Skindiving for gold is not new, but
development of better diving equipment in recent years has stimulated
interest in the method, although restricted in practice to a few select
stream areas. Shaft and drift mining are also among methods used in
extracting placer gold gravels, but because techniques are more related to
other types of mining, discussion is not included in this report.
Dry Washer (for Desert Areas)
Dry washers have been used for many years in Australia, where water is
scarce, and especially in New Mexico where several million dollars in gold
has been produced during the last century by dry washing. The Cerrillos,
Golden, and Hillsboro districts are among those having produced gold by
dry washing. In years when other employment is scarce such production may
take place widely. In the 1930's a considerable number of men also used
dry washers in Nevada, southern California, and Arizona. If gravel is to
be treated successfully by dry washing, it must be completely dry and
disintegrated. For instance, after rainstorms, operations must be stopped
until the ground dries out again. Even in very dry climates the gravel is
slightly damp below the surface, and must be dried before it can be
treated in a dry washer. Spreading the material to sun-dry or putting it
through dryers adds to the cost of mining. In small-scale work, however,
the gravel will dry out about as fast as it can be treated.
Dry washers are usually run by hand and have about the same capacity as
rockers of corresponding size, but the work of operating the dry washer is
much harder. The workers select the material they are to treat with regard
to both dryness and probable gold content. It is difficult to do this on a
large scale with hired labour. Plants with mechanical excavators and
complex power-driven dry-washing machinery have been tried, but in the
United States, at least, virtually all were commercial failures, primarily
because the gravel was dug faster than the sun could dry it out. Also, in
large-scale work, particularly with mechanical excavation, the cost of
sizing the material is quite great. Clay and cemented gravel introduce
even further difficulties.
When the gold-bearing material is completely dry and disintegrated,
panning tests of the tailings should show that a good saving can be made,
except perhaps with extremely fine or flaky gold. Completely disintegrated
material, however, is seldom obtained. The tops of clay streaks in the
gravel are likely to be richer in gold than the gravel itself. Clay or
cemented gravel seldom can be broken up sufficiently by hand to free all
the gold without the use of some form of pulverizer. In a dry washer all
gold included in a lump of waste passes out of the machine. As water
usually will break up all the gravel and separate the gold from the other
material, a better saving usually can be effected with the rocker or
sluiceboxes than with a dry washer.
Basically, the dry washer separates gold from sand by pulsations of air
through a porous medium. The screened gravel passes down an inclined
riffle box with cross riffles. The bottom of the box consists of canvas or
some other fabric. Under the riffle box is a bellows, by which air in
short, strong puffs is blown through the canvas. This gives a combined
shaking and classifying action to the material. The gold gravitates to the
canvas and is held by the riffles, while the waste passes out of the
The gravel is shoveled into a box holding a few shovelfuls at the head of
the washer, from which it runs by gravity through the machine. A screen
with about 1.25cm openings is used over the box. All stones over about
2.5cm in diameter generally are discarded in mining. A dry washer usually
is run by a small petrol engine which saves the labor of one man. The
capacity of such machines is considerably greater than that of
hand-operated ones. For instance, one man working alone must fill the box,
then turn a crank which runs the bellows until the gravel runs through.
The process is then repeated. With two men working, one shovels and the
other turns the crank. One man can treat 1/2 to 1 cubic m per day with a
hand-operated washer, where the gravel lies close to the machine.
When cleaning up, the material behind the riffles usually is dumped into a
pan and washed out in water. If water is very scarce, the accumulated
material from the riffles may be run through the machine a second time and
then further cleaned by blowing away the lighter grains of sand in a pan.
Dry washers are usually handmade and have been built in a large number of
designs and sizes. The bellows of the machine is made of 36-ounce duck and
the bottom of the riffle box of 8-ounce, single-weave canvas.
In contrast to the single-weave canvas, silk or rayon permits a good
extraction of gold, but too much dust goes through into the bellows.
Heavier canvas is too tight for good separation. Copper-wire fly screen is
used under the canvas. The riffle box is 30cm wide and 1.1m long and
contains six riffles. The slope of the riffle box is 30cm to the metre.
(Hand-operated machines are usually much smaller and the riffle box is set
at a steeper angle than with powered machines.) The gravel and sand are
shoveled onto a screen with 0.5cm openings at the top of the washer. The
bellows is operated at 250 pulsations per minute; the stroke is 8cm.
The capacity of the machine is about 4/5 metres per hour, which probably
would correspond to 1-1/2 or 2 cubic metres, bank measure. (The plus 2.5cm
material was previously discarded.)
In cleaning up after treating approximately 1 cubic metre in the washer,
the riffle box is lifted out and turned over on a large, flat surface,
such as a baking tin. The concentrate from the upper three riffles is
first panned, and the gold is removed. Usually both the coarse and the
fine gold can be saved here. The lower riffles may contain a few colors,
but nearly all the gold is normally caught in the upper riffles.
Surf Washer (for Beach Deposits)
Few sea-beach-type placer gold deposits have been mined successfully. The
most important producers have been in the vicinity of Nome, Alaska, but
gold is also known to occur in a few other shoreline locations of States
bordering the Pacific Ocean. Special techniques have been developed to
utilize the action of the surf in recovering gold from these deposits.
Surf washers are similar to long toms, but wider and shorter. They can be
used only when the surf is of proper height. They are set so the incoming
surf rushes up the sluice, washes material from the screen box or hopper,
and retreating, carries it over the riffles and plates. One man can attend
to two surf washers, and about 8 cubic metres can be handled per 10 hours.
An example of a simple surf washer is a riffled sluice 1 to 1.25 metres
wide and 2.5 to 3 metres long, set on the sand at the water's edge so that
the incoming waves wash through it to the upper end, and retreat below the
lower end. The sluice is made of boards nailed to sills at either end
which can be weighed down with rocks or otherwise. The sides are 6 to 10cm
high. The riffles in the example are made in sections of about 2.5- by
2.5cm strips spaced about 2.5cm apart. The end sections are transverse
riffles, the center section longitudinal. The box preferably is set on a
grade of 10 to 15 cm per 4 metres. Best results are obtained by using
mercury in the riffles. When the surf is strong, the washer treats as much
as two men can shovel, but at other times it has to be fed very slowly.
Skindiving (Combining Recreation)
In recent years skindiving enthusiasts have taken up small-scale placering
as both a hobby and a sometimes, though seldom, profitable venture.
Various kinds of apparel and equipment are used, but the investment is
usually not great. Wet suits and canvas shoes are almost a necessity for
entering cold mountain streams to search the streambed for pockets that
might contain gold. Beginners should be equipped with a snorkel, a face
mask, gloves, a weighted belt, fins, a gold pan, and a crevicing tool.
More experienced divers may use the popular scuba equipment, but this
calls for special knowledge to insure safety. Crevicing tools include
large spoons, tire irons, crowbars, etc.--almost anything that can reach
into tight places and dislodge nuggets from the stream bottom. The pan
should be used to test sands from various places where gold would be
expected to settle, such as the downstream sides of obstructions. Where
colors in the pan indicate a favorable area of the stream, a more intense
search may be made.
Mining equipment may include various combinations of pumps, miniature
dredges, and riffle boxes that can be built from salvage by the operator
or purchased from commercial sources. A number of manufacturers have
produced special equipment for the purpose. One of the popular kinds is
the jet dredge, a pipelike device made of sheet metal curved at the intake
end and with a water jet entry to propel the water and gravel through the
straight portion. The jet is supplied from a portable pump and in effect
causes gravel and sand to be sucked into and through the pipe. A riffle
box built into the end section collects the gold and other heavy particles
while the rest of the material discharges. The riffle box may be enclosed
so it can function while submerged. Usually, a 6- to 10-horsepower pump is
adequate; the hose to the jet may be 3-5cm in diameter.
Manipulating the device underwater requires skill and patience, since the
riffle section must be kept nearly horizontal during the mining operation.
Floating platforms are sometimes used to support equipment. In this case,
riffle boxes and other units may be installed on the platform. The usual
operation includes moving many large boulders to get at the trapped gold
under neath or alongside. Conventional equipment such as a rocker or a
sluice may be employed to carry selected material from the streambed to a
shoreline site for processing. Concentrates are then panned to recover the
Problems You Should Anticipate In Placer Mining
Besides the many problems already discussed, such as where and how to find
a placer deposit, how to locate a claim, and how to sample and mine, a few
special operational problems should be considered. These relate to the
physical nature of placer materials and the climatic conditions under
which they may be found.
Streams with steep gradients often have poorly sorted sands and gravels,
meaning a wide range of size will be encountered, up to cobbles and large,
irregularly shaped boulders. Other debris and tree roots may be present
too. Materials that have lain in place for long periods become indurated
(that is, bound up tightly with clay, or cemented sometimes almost to the
point of being solid rock), which makes them exceedingly difficult to
break up with water. Irregularities in the rock surface underlying placer
materials become important in mining because this is the zone where the
richest values usually are found. A very uneven surface can be
particularly difficult to work on. In addition, there is difficulty in
Alaska where ground may be frozen a large part of the year. It may be
impractical for the weekend or vacation prospector to tackle placers where
such adverse conditions prevail. How these problems are normally dealt
with in larger operations is discussed briefly under the headings to
Boulders are best left in place if it is at all possible to work around
them. Sometimes, particularly in sluicing, it becomes necessary to move
the boulders out of the way. A derrick operated by a hand winch or steam,
gasoline, or electric power may be used for this purpose. Possibly several
suchderricks will be needed if many boulders are present. Boulders may be
drilled with a jackhammer and blasted using dynamite, or more simply
blasted with an explosive plastered onto the rock, a technique called
"mudcapping." Platform skips may be swung from a derrick boom or cableway;
the larger rocks are then pried out and rolled into the skip for removal.
A small bucket-loader vehicle may be useful for handling boulders,
provided it can operate over the type of surface exposed on the pit floor.
Sections of the pit where bedrock has been cleaned up may be reserved for
stacking large rocks. Future operations should be planned so repeated
handling is avoided.
Trouble With Clays and Cemented Gravels
Clays and cemented gravels usually require the cutting force of the
hydraulic giant for effective mining. In some nonfloating washing plants
the gravel is delivered to the head of the sluice where a giant is used to
break up the clay. Indurated or clayey materials are normally dredged with
little difficulty, but if gravels are tightly cemented, they may best be
mined by shaft or drift methods using explosives and timbering as
required. This presumes they are rich enough to stand the high cost of
such mining and are not exposed enough for open pit mining. Clay lumps
must be broken up quite thoroughly before passing through gold-recovery
equipment because of their capacity to imbed gold particles and carry the
gold out with the discharge. The breaking of clays can be accomplished
using the puddling box (previously described on p. 29) or with a trommel,
which quickly reduces the lumps by its rotation and abrading action.
Exposure of clays to air is also effective in breaking them down, although
the time required may be a matter of days or weeks.
Cleanup of the last remaining materials from bedrock is an important step
in gold placering, and if the surface is soft, fractured, or uneven, this
can be a painstaking chore. Where bedrock is soft and fractured, gold
particles can be embedded as much as acouple of metres, so it often is
advisable to also excavate this kind of bedrock material for its gold
content. Usually, it is best to clean the bedrock as the work progresses
upstream. A final cleaning of the surface may be left until the end of the
season, when there is more time to spend on this activity and when the
water is short for other work.
Where bedrock is hard it must be cleaned largely by hand, and the soft
seams and cracks invariably present should be cleaned out with hand tools.
A hose and small pump are almost necessities for a good cleanup. Sometimes
a separate sluicebox smaller than that used in the main operation will be
employed for handling materials from a cleanup operation.
Recovering Your Gold And Selling It
As you reach the final stage in turning arduous labours into a product,
the gold should be in either of two forms--a nearly pure concentrate or an
amalgam with mercury--depending upon whether the latter was used to
implement the collection of gold. Placer gold in its natural form is
almost always alloyed with a certain amount of silver, which decreases its
fineness. The silver, being much lower in value or price per ounce, lowers
the value of the gold by a corresponding amount. Fineness is based on a
scale of 0 to 1,000. As an example, gold 750 fine would be three-fourths
gold and probably close to one-fourth silver. The important thing is that
the gold until it is refined will be worth somewhat less than the market
price for pure gold. The exception to this, of course, is specimen
material that may have special value in its natural form.
Gold in an amalgam can be heated or retorted to drive off the mercury,
leaving a gold sponge. Great care should be taken when this is done to
avoid inhalation of the mercury fumes, which are highly toxic and which
can cause a variety of ailments or even death. Small quantities of amalgam
may be heated on an iron surface, such as a shovel face, out-of-doors
where the vapors will be quickly dispersed. Preferably, a retort is used
for environmental reasons and personal safety. Mercury, which partially
vaporizes at ordinary room temperatures, will vaporize completely at about
675 degrees F, so an ordinary fire or propane burner will suffice. Small
retorts are commercially available, or they can be constructed out of a
small cast iron pot with a tight-fitting cover to which a short length of
water-jacketed condenser pipe is connected.
A typical setup may have a sloping pipe 0.5 to 1.4 metres long encased in
a larger diameter pipe through which water is circulated. A coating of
chalk or clay inside the pot will prevent the gold from adhering to the
iron. The pot is heated gently at first, raising the temperature gradually
until mercury stops coming from the condenser outlet. Mercury thus
recovered is ready to reuse for amalgamation, and the spongy mass of gold
can be sold. Because amalgams are difficult to sell, it is usually best to
retort your own and market the gold.
Gold is priced and sold by the troy ounce, which should not be confused
with the better known avoirdupois ounce. A troy pound consists of 12 troy
ounces and is equivalent to 0.8229 pound avoirdupois. A button of gold
that weighed 1 pound avoirdupois would contain about 14.6 troy ounces.
Normally, gold is weighed on special troy scales so the confusion in this
odd conversion is eliminated.
The Palmer River goldfield was first gazetted on 27 November 1873. The
main mining centers were in Maytown, Palmerville and Jessops Hill with the
goldfield totalling an area close on 9000km square.
The Palmer and all of its tributaries were worked from the junction of
Campbell creek (65km north of Maytown) to Strathleven. The most productive
region was between Byerstown and Fish Creek Junction.
Some of the creeks and gullies worked were Jessop's, Sandy, Cradle and
Oakey Creek. Locations such as Revolver Point, Milkmans flat, McGann's and
White Horse all yielded plentiful gold.
With a large population of Chinese diggers it was hard to tell what the
total gold removed was, as the Chinese often sent their winnings home in
burial jars. At the time, gold prices in Australia were around 3p 17s an
ounce and the same gold in Hong Kong went for around 5 pound per ounce.
The total estimated return was somewhere around about 1,333,893 ozs. of
A good place to start looking would be in Maytown as every creek and gully
for a radius of 10km yielded gold . Overall the soil cover averages a
depth of 30cm which means that most detectors could easily find any
nuggets left behind by the old timers.