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Gold's earliest discoveries may have centered on man seeing the shiny metal in a stream, but over time a variety of methods have been used to extract gold from the ground.
Suction dredging uses an underwater vacuum-type machine that extracts items from a streambed. These recovered materials are passed through a hose and on to a recovery system that floats on the water. In the recovery system the heavier pieces of gold are caught and everything else flows back into the stream.
Sluicing is another option that uses a device called a sluice box. The box contains riffles in the bottom, that when placed in water helps create a dead zone in the current. Gold in this dead zone falls out of suspension in the water. Once this occurs, the gold is contained underneath the riffles.
Hydraulic mining removes rock and sediment by usingfut water under pressure. The practice has been in existence since the Ancient Romans, and was even used by early gold miners in California. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of environmental damage caused by hydraulic mining. In areas where it was commonly used, waterways were impacted resulting in a high probability of future flooding.
A final option for gold mining is hard rock mining. Rock, most often igneous rock, can hold vast amounts of gold. Hard rock mining can remove this gold by digging a tunnel into the rock. Miners then go in and remove the pockets of ore. Once the ore is extracted, miners arrange the ore by size, removing the gold after the rocks have been crushed.
Learn More: Gold Refining
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