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An Introduction to Placer Gold Recovery Methods

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Individual prospectors and minor miners have devised various techniques over time for recovering gold dust, flakes and nuggets from placer (river) gravels. Many of these require water access; thus making these methods applicable only when running water is available in an environment.

Commercial mineral concentration techniques allow companies to extract valuable materials from worthless waste, creating a tradeoff between concentrate grade and recovery rates. This can be good start for your investment of extra money you make from online slot games thro’ sites depicted over!

Gravity Separation

Gravity separation is a physical method that uses density differences among minerals to isolate them and separate them. Gravity separation can be used to physically isolate gold and other heavy metals from worthless rock (gangue), particularly alluvial deposits where these precious minerals may exist in small particles separated from lighter materials like silica sand limestone and sulphides.

Due to gravity’s relatively straightforward laws, placer mining technology is readily available and inexpensive for small-scale placer mining operations. Furthermore, with gold prices reaching record levels in recent months, many once marginal alluvial gold deposit opportunities that offer high margin rates but minimal capital and operating costs have seen renewed interest among miners.

Gravity separation has long been used as an effective means of recovering gold in various industries and laboratory settings, from bench scale testing to full plant operations. At ALS we have an array of gravity separation technologies including jigs, pinched sluices, spirals, shaking tables and other fine particle separators which can be tailored specifically for new greenfield projects as well as existing operations that need process optimisation.

Jigging is the primary tool used in gravity separation for gold, and involves the combination of beveled water flow with longitudinal reciprocating shaking movement on a bed surface. Jigging produces mineral layers based on specific gravity, size and shape that move at different speeds or directions which can then be separated into concentrate, middlings and tailings for subsequent processing.

Shaking tables are another popular form of gravity separation equipment used for placer gold mining. Used extensively to extract sand and gravel from alluvial deposits, to recover heavy metals, and upgrade alluvial ores, they can also help concentrate gold deposits with limited access to water resources. They’re especially adept at concentrating gold concentration in such conditions.

Mercury-gold amalgam gravity separation methods offer another form of gravity separation for gold. This approach can be especially beneficial in areas without access to water; alluvial material must first be ground to an extremely fine consistency before being mixed with mercury in a mercury mixing cylinder and then added back in again afterward. Although the process requires significant labour input, it is still cost-efficient when dealing with non-dense alluvial materials.


Once a placer gold deposit has been located and claimed (or leased if necessary), operations of washing it down must commence to recover the gold. The first step involves breaking up clay lumps that imbed gold particles and prevent their washing away with gravel; this can be accomplished through puddling as described on page 29 or by using a trommel with rotation and abrading action to quickly reduce lumps, while air exposure may cause them to disintegrate enough so they can be washed away more effectively.

Under this method, a wooden box sluice or ground sluice – both known by their respective terms – is set up in a stream of water running over gold-bearing gravel and secured at either end with wire mesh or strapping to collect the sediments that wash in. At the bottom of a sluice lies a set of riffles designed to slow and direct current, allowing gold to settle and be trapped by the mixture of water and other material that passes through it. Once trapped, these precious minerals can then be collected by hand in a pan. Value of Gold Determined through Counting Particles Worth 50 or 100 Cents This technique typically costs less and gives more accurate results than fire assaying; it however doesn’t give an exact measure of its fineness.

Sluicing requires large quantities of water; how much you use depends on available resources. A steep grade sluice, with fast flow and deep current, works best for speedy disintegration of gravel; low grade/slow current systems will save more gold; for more gentle rocking motion use a rocker box instead as this modified form can operate on limited water supplies while still enabling sufficient disintegration to take place effectively.


Panning is an effective placer gold recovery method, employing a pan to wash away sediment and gravel that contains gold. A typical pan is typically a light but sturdy circular metal dish with an angle that slopes out at approximately 45 degrees on either side, with smooth inner surfaces free from grease or rust deposits. An old or rusty pan can still serve its purpose adequately for collecting fine dirt and clay samples from places where streams slow down, such as near boulders or inside bends in rivers or creeks. Once in water, immersing it with still 6″-1′ deep still water works best. Once immersed, its contents should be thoroughly dispersed using both hands until all lumps of clay have been evenly dispersed and any large stones removed by hand. After that is completed, shaking from side-to-side with slight gyratory motion is applied before adding wash water which washes away surface material and concentrates heavy black sands such as Ilmenite (iron titanium oxide), Magnetite, Pyrite or Pyrite; they then become gold rich sources!

Gold panning is one of the oldest and most basic tools used for prospecting and mining, still widely employed in small scale placer operations today. Gold panning can also be a fun recreational activity among geology enthusiasts; experienced gold panners can even turn it into an extremely profitable pursuit by learning how to minimize losses when panning for gold.

While panning can be useful in prospecting for gold, its commercial efficiency was never very productive. Therefore, in the 1910s, steam- and later diesel-powered dredges became the more efficient means of prospecting, plowing through thick gravel deposits like conveyor belts to collect thousands of cubic feet each day and running it through multiple sluice boxes in order to extract gold – leaving behind orderly piles of waste rock known as tailings that became known across the landscape.

Remarkably, more effective gold recovery has recently been developed – the shaking table. A shaking table is an elevated table equipped with ridges along its length; crushed ore or sediment feed is fed into these ridges from one end of the table and shaken using an electric motor, drawing heavier minerals such as gold to collection points at either end while lighter materials such as soil are washed away by being shaken off.


Placer deposits consist of sands and gravels which contain metallic gold in various forms ranging from fine dust to nuggets weighing thousands of ounces, washed down from underlying sulfide deposits by moving water due to glacial movements or earthquakes, becoming accessible via gravity separation, sluicing or panning techniques. Auriferous sands and gravels usually boast high concentrations of gold while their low density makes them amenable to gravity separation techniques such as gravity separation sluicing and panning techniques.

Gold mining in the past was conducted by individuals using simple tools to prospect for and mine placer gold deposits, with Roman alluvial mining methods described by Pliny the Elder as one such example of this practice. Modern placer miners employ various industrial-scale processes like gravity separation, sluicing, panning and flotation in order to recover precious metals for mining – these include gravity separation, sluicing, panning and froth flotation among many others.

Gravity separation involves sorting materials based on their density in a gravity concentration plant. To do this, mechanical, chemical and biological methods may be combined together in the process; additionally cyanide leaching may be combined for enhanced recovery of gold bearing sulfides.

At a typical gold gravity separation plant, crushed rocks are fed into a hydrocyclone for sorting by size and density, before its overflow is sent to a slurry tank where chemicals are added that render gold-containing sulfide minerals hydrophobic. Finally, this mixture is passed into a froth flotation cell, where air bubbles attach themselves to these hydrophobic particles and rise toward the surface.

Froth that accumulates on top of a tank is scraped off with blades and transferred to a concentrate conveyor, where it will eventually be sent for further processing at a smelter.

As with free-milling gold, gravity and froth flotation can be used to recover any associated sulfide-associated gold. When dealing with low grade free milling gold deposits of less than one gram/t, this process often out-performs crushing and heap leaching when cost is an important consideration. Before making any definitive decisions regarding flowsheet design, however, it’s crucial to fully comprehend their differences before forming an opinion either way.