Panning for Clues in the Gold Market

November 10, 2008 | By | 2 Replies More

This weekend, I was in Phoenix, Arizona and then headed upstate to Kingman. A friend mentioned that there was a gold mine along the way that operated “when gold prices are good.”

I’m guessing it’s not in operation currently. There are many ways to get the gold out of the ground, including panning, sluicing, metal detecting and dredging.

Gold panning is mostly manual technique of filling a wide, shallow pan, then adding water. Gold is denser than rock, so it quickly settles to the bottom of the pan.

Gold panning is the easiest technique for searching for gold, but not the only ones for small mining operations. There is also sluicing. 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 catch water-flow and gold bearing material is placed at the top of the box. The material is carried by water through the box where gold and other heavy material settles out behind the riffles. Sluicing can also be done on a large scale.

Larger commercial mining operations employ screening plants to remove the large extraneous debris such as boulders and gravel before moving the material to a sluice box or jig plant.

And of course, we’ve all seen what I like to call an “accidental prospector.” He (or she) is the one walking up and down the beach, carrying a piece of electronic equipment known as a “metal detector.” This piece of machinery gives a positive reading on whether a quantity of gold may be present up to a meter below the area being scanned. This is very popular among gold diggers.

Larger commercial mining operations employ screening plants to remove the large extraneous debris such as boulders and gravel before moving the material to a sluice box or jig plant.

Right now, some mines are shutting down because of the slowdown of the rest of the economy. As the dollar drifts down and weakens, gold prices are expected to shift upward as investors seek protection from the weakened economy. Either up or down, too much fluctuation is likely to keep many mines shut down. Small operations may be forced to sell at deflated prices, while larger operations are already shutting and canceling new projects. These changes may be ongoing for sometime to come. We’ll talk more about that in future blogs.

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Category: Gold Prices

About the Author ()

I'm a professional journalist with several media outlets both in Los Angeles and in Washington, DC. I have covered politics, major disasters, the markets and the economy for several years. I'm interested in covering gold prices because of what it indicates about the economy and the money supply. I try to stay positive, but right now, we are in a difficult situation financially and I'll try to bring the economy and the price of gold into focus in this blog.

Comments (2)

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  1. I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work :)

  2. Martha Rooks says:

    Thank you, Stacey. :) Have a great day and enjoy your shopping!

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