Gold panning

Gold panning, or simply panning, is a form of placer mining and traditional mining that extracts gold from a placer deposit using a pan. The process is one of the simplest ways to extract gold, and is popular with geology enthusiasts especially because of its low cost and relative simplicity.

The first recorded instances of placer mining are from ancient Rome, where gold and other precious metals were extracted from streams and mountainsides using sluices and panning.[1] However, the productivity rate is comparatively smaller compared to other methods such as the rocker box or large extractors, such as those used at the Super Pit gold mine, in Kalgoorlie, Western Australia, which has led to panning being largely replaced in the commercial market.

Gold panning at Bonanza Creek
Panning for gold in a creek bed
Gold in the pan
Gold in the pan, Alaska


Panning out - NARA - 517433
"Panning out" ~ Stereoscopic view of print taken by the U.S. Geological and Geographic Survey of the Territories ~ circa 1874 - 1879

Gold panning is a simple process. Once a suitable placer deposit is located, some alluvial deposits are scooped into a pan, where they are then gently agitated in water and the gold sinks to the bottom of the pan. Materials with a low specific gravity are allowed to spill out of the pan, whereas materials with a higher specific gravity sink to the bottom of the sediment during agitation and remain within the pan for examination and collection by the prospector. These dense materials usually consist primarily of a black, magnetite sand with whatever stones or metal dust that may be found in the deposit that is used for source material.

While an effective method with certain kinds of deposits, and essential for prospecting, even skilled panners can work but a limited amount of material, significantly less than the other methods which have replaced it in larger operation.[2] Pans remain in use in places where there is limited capital or infrastructure, as well as in recreational gold mining.

In many situations, gold panning usually turns up only minor gold dust that is usually collected as a souvenir in small clear tubes by hobbyists. Nuggets and considerable amounts of dust are occasionally found, but panning mining is not generally lucrative. Panning for gold can be used to locate the parent gold veins which are the source of most placer deposits.


Pans et batée de diverses origines
Various designs of gold pans from around the world

Gold pans of various designs have been developed over the years,[3] the common features being a means for trapping the heavy materials during agitation, or for easily removing them at the end of the process. Some are intended for use with mercury, include screens, sharp corners for breaking ice, are non-round, or are even designed for use "with or without water". Edward Otho Cresap Ord, II, a former Army officer and co-owner of several mines, patented several pan designs including designs for use with mercury or dry.[4]

Pans are measured by their diameter in inches or centimeters. Common sizes of gold pans today range between 10–17 inches (25–43 cm), with 14 inches (36 cm) being the most used size. The sides are generally angled between 30° to 45°.[2][5]

Pans are manufactured in both metal and high-impact plastic. Russia iron[6][5] or heavy gauge steel pans are traditional. Steel pans are heavier and stronger than plastic pans. Some are made of lightweight alloys for structural stability. Plastic gold pans resist rust, acid and corrosion, and most are designed with moulded riffles along one side of the pan. Of the plastic gold pans, green and red ones are usually preferred among prospectors, as both the gold and the black sand stands out in the bottom of the pan, although many also opt for black pans instead to easily identify gold deposits.

The batea, Spanish for "gold pan",[7] is a particular variant of gold pan.[5] Traditionally made of a solid piece of wood,[5] it may also be made of metal. Bateas are used in areas where there is less water available for use than with traditional gold pans, such as Mexico and South America, where it was introduced by the Spanish.[5][6] Bateas are larger than other gold pans, being closer to half a meter (20 inches) in diameter.[5]


The yuri-ita (揺り板), Japanese for "rocking plate" is a traditional wooden gold pan used in Japan. Unlike other gold pans, it is rectangular in shape with a concave cross section and is sealed off at one end with the other end open. As the Japanese name implies, the gold is panned with a rocking motion.[8]


  1. ^ Lynn Cohen Duncan (1999-12-09), Roman Deep-vein Mining, retrieved 2009-12-14
  2. ^ a b Silva, Michael A. (1986). Placer Gold Recovery Methods (No. 87). Sacramento, California: California Division of Mines and Geology. pp. 2–3.
  3. ^ Various. "GOLD PANS of every shape". ECO-MINEX INTERNATIONAL LTD. Archived from the original on August 1, 2010. Retrieved August 30, 2010.
  4. ^ Various (2006). "ORD FAMILY PAPERS, Part 2". Georgetown University Libraries Special Collections, Lemelson Center. Georgetown University Library, 37th and N Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C., 20057. Retrieved December 30, 2009.Note: Call number 90A469 in four series. Series 1 deal with correspondence 1940 to 1963. SERIES: 5. E.O.C. Ord II: Patents and Printed Materials.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Placer Mining: A Hand-book for Klondike and Other Miners and Prospectors. Scranton, Pa.: Colliery Engineering Co. 1897. pp. 96–97.
  6. ^ a b Wilson, E. B. (1907). Hydraulic and Placer Mining. New York: John Wiley & Sons. pp. 30–33.
  7. ^ Raymond, R.W. (1881). "batea". Glossary of Mining and Metallurgical Terms. Easton, Pa.: American Institute of Mining Engineers.
  8. ^ "How to use a Yuri-ita (ゆり板を使う)". Retrieved 29 August 2014.
Afon Mawddach

The Afon Mawddach (English: River Mawddach) is a river in Gwynedd, Wales, which has its source in a wide area SH820300 north of Dduallt in Snowdonia. It is 28 miles (45 km) in length, and is much branched; many of the significant tributaries are of a similar size to the main river. The catchment area is bounded to the east by the Aran Fawddwy massif and to the west and north by the Harlech dome which forms a watershed just south of Llyn Trawsfynydd.

The Mawddach has been the site of significant industrialisation and land management. Gold mining and subsequently gold panning have had major impacts but forestry, the preparation of animal skins, the storage of old munitions and the use of hill-sides as artillery ranges have all added to the legacy of pollution. The river is also very flashy - prone to very rapid rise and fall in level depending on rainfall. Rainfall can also be very heavy and it falls on very base-poor soils leading to episodes of strongly depressed pH. Despite this, the river sustains an important salmon and trout fishery and the countryside through which it flows is some of the most spectacular and scenic in the UK.

The main tributaries starting in the west and working clockwise are:

Afon Cwm Mynach which drains Llyn Cwm Mynach on the Rhinogydd.

Afon Gamlan which joins at Ganllwyd after following a tumultuous valley through ancient Oak woods before descending towards the main river down Rhaeadr Ddu (Black waterfalls). This valley has one of the more important moss and liverwort communities in the southern UK.

Afon Eden, its headwaters known as Afon Crawcwellt- a large tributary draining from below Llyn Trawsfynydd and closely following the A470 through the Coed-y-Brenin forest. This tributary has been severely impacted by industrialisation in the past including gold mining and its use as an ordnance range.

Afon Gain - a large tributary has also been impacted by similar problems to the Eden and is very acidic and peaty.

Afon Wen which joins south of the Gain is similar but smaller.

Afon Wnion is a major tributary joining from the east and which drains a large area out towards Aran Fawddwy

Amarakaeri language

Amarakaeri is an Amazonian language of the Harákmbut language family spoken in Peru along the Madre de Dios and Colorado Rivers. There is less than 1% literacy compared to 5 to 15% literacy in second language Spanish. There is one dialect called Kisambaeri. It is an official language and has a dictionary. Amarakaeri speakers include the Kochimberi, Küpondirideri, Wíntaperi, Wakitaneri, and Kareneri gold panning tribes. There is a common misconception is that Amarakaeri is an Arawakan language. Alternate names include Amarakaire, Amaracaire, and Mashco; the latter of which is considered a pejorative term.

Auburn State Recreation Area

Auburn State Recreation Area is a state park unit of California, USA, along 40 miles (64 km) of the North and Middle Forks of the American River. The state recreation area (SRA) is situated on the border of Placer and El Dorado Counties in the heart of historic Gold Country. The largest city with close proximity is the city of Auburn. Once teeming with gold mining activity, the area now offers a wide variety of outdoor recreational opportunities. Major recreational uses include trail running, hiking, swimming, boating, fishing, camping, mountain biking, gold panning, horseback riding, road bicycling, and off-highway motorcycle riding. Whitewater recreation is also very popular on both forks of the river, with Class II, III and IV runs. Auburn SRA is also famous for a number of endurance races that are hosted throughout the year.

Camarines Norte

Camarines Norte (Central Bicolano: Amihanan na Camarines; Tagalog: Hilagang Camarines) is a province located in the Bicol region in Luzon of the Philippines. Its capital is Daet. The province borders Quezon to the west, Camarines Sur to the south, and the Philippine Sea to the north.

Cherryville, British Columbia

Cherryville is an unincorporated community in the foothills of the Monashee Mountains in British Columbia with a population of approximately 930. It is located 14 miles (22 km) east of Lumby, along Highway 6.

The small community of Cherryville was an old gold mining camp founded in the 1860s by prospectors from the California Gold Rush who had come north to the British Columbia gold rushes. Between 1863 and 1895, the original town that is now known as Cherryville was a small mining camp located within the canyon walls of Cherry Creek. Its population was 100 people, half of which were Chinese miners.

With more and more miners heading into Cherry Creek area, a road was built from Lumby in 1877, through Blue Springs Valley, attracting new families to the area. The community was known by the post office name of Cherry Creek, then Hilton. It was officially named Cherryville in 1919, after the wild Choke Cherries (Prunus virginiana) that grow along the banks of the creek.

Services in Cherryville include accommodation, two general stores, restaurants, a library, a campground, shops and other amenities. Originally an area of orchards, ranching and logging are major industries in the community.

Recreation opportunities in the Cherryville area include bird watching, gold panning, skiing, hiking, camping, horseback tours, and fishing.

Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site

The Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site is a Georgia state historic site located in Dahlonega that commemorates America's first gold rush and the mining history of Lumpkin County. The museum is housed in the historic Old Lumpkin County Courthouse built in 1836 and located in the center of the town square. It is the oldest surviving county courthouse in the state. The museum houses many artifacts from the gold rush of 1836, including gold nuggets, gold coins, and gold panning equipment, as well as an educational film and gift shop.

East Fork Road

East Fork Road, located in the San Gabriel Mountains above the city of Azusa, California, is a road that gives access from State Route 39 into East Fork and other small townships including Camp Williams, and Julius Klein Conservation Fire Camp 19, a minor offender prisoner housing complex where "LACO fire personnel provide training, which prepares inmates to safely conduct wild land firefighting operations."The road begins at Route 39, passing over the San Gabriel River, and follows the East Fork of the river, crossing a number of small streams. The terminus is Heaton Flats, which has a campsite, a toilet facility, and trails that lead upstream and to the summit of Iron Mountain, 8,007 feet (2,441 m) above.

Along East Fork Road there are extensive fire fighting facilities which are staged to combat the many fires that break out among the foothills above Azusa, Glendora, and San Dimas every year. The road is located within the Angeles National Forest and is managed by the United States Forest Service.

The United States Forest Service states that all mining operations including gold panning are illegal along the East Fork; however, mining and prospecting are a historic relic of California's heritage, enforcement of the mining laws is infrequent, and gold panning continues along this stretch of the road (which offers easy access to the river). Some of the sites of the area's mining heritage can be accessed from the road by visiting the site of "Eldoradoville", a mining town with three stores and six saloons that was established in 1859 and washed away in the flood of January 18, 1862.East Fork Road was initially planned as an outlet from the Los Angeles Area to State Route 2, and includes a "Bridge to Nowhere" that was abandoned after a flood; a later plan included two never-used tunnels on the aborted

Shoemaker Canyon Road.In January 2005 a flood washed out two bridges which stranded 200 campers and residents for days.


Insiza is a constituency of Zimbabwe in the province of Matabeleland South. It is a rural area. Insiza district lies to the South East of Bulawayo in Zimbabwe and borders Gwanda district to the South, Zvishavane to the east and Umzingwane district to the West. The total distance between Insiza and Bulawayo is 77 km and 469 km from Harare. The district is mostly in natural region four. This region experiences fairly low total rainfall (450-650 mm) and is subject to periodic seasonal droughts and severe dry spells during the rainy season. The rainfall is too low and uneven for cash cropping except in certain very favourable localities, where limited drought resistant crops can afford a side-line. The farming system, in accord with natural factors, should be based on livestock production, but it: can be intensified to some extent by the growing of drought resistant fodder crops.

Insiza constituency has a total population of 86 307 people and Ndebele is the most commonly spoken language. There are 78 primary schools, 18 secondary schools. Insiza district is home to 14 health centres, 72 business centres, 45 dip tanks, 314 boreholes and 7 dams. The constituency has 18 rural council seats allocated by ward. There are also 42 income generating projects, which received funding from the then Ministry of Youth, Gender and Employment Creation. Gold panning takes place throughout the year and peaks in August and September. A number of small scale mines in the district provide employment.More than 1000 votes have been unaccounted for at the 2005 general election. It has been won by the Zanu PF candidate Andrew Langa at the 2005 general election. Insiza has been held by the Zanu PF since the 2002 by-election.

Land of the Yankee Fork State Park

Land of the Yankee Fork State Park is a history-oriented public recreation area covering 521 acres (211 ha) in Custer County, Idaho, United States. The state park interprets Idaho's frontier mining history, including the ghost towns Bayhorse, Bonanza, and Custer. The interpretive center near Challis has a museum and gold panning station. The park was created in 1990 with the purchase of twenty acres where the interpretive center is located two miles south of Challis. It is operated by the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation in cooperation with the United States Forest Service.


Loiyangalani is a small town located on the southeastern coast of Lake Turkana in Kenya. The town has 1000 inhabitants (1999 census)[1]. Loiyangalani means "a place of many trees" in the native Samburu tongue. It is home to Turkana people and was founded near a freshwater spring in the 1960s where the El Molo people live. Its main industries include fishing, tourism and gold panning. It is a popular tourist destination in Northern Kenya, as the surrounding El Molo and Turkana villages offer unique (although somewhat commercialized) experiences.

In June 2008, the 1st Cultural Festival took place at Loiyangalani and united all tribes of the Lake in celebration for one weekend.The town is home to an airstrip and lies near Mount Kulal (50 km), known for its forest and stones. There are a few Lodges in the area, the "Oasis Lodge", the "Palmshade Camp", the "Mosaretu Women's Groupe Lodge", and the "Sailo Bandas" all located only a few hundred meters from the airstrip.

Loiyangalani Division of Marsabit County is headquartered in Loiyangalani town. The town is sometimes spelled as Loyangalani.

Loiyangalani was the setting for John le Carré's novel, The Constant Gardener, and was also a location for the film of the same title.

In 2010, Loiyangalani was briefly made a district on its own from the former Laisamis district by the President of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki.


Oallen is a locality in the Goulburn Mulwaree Council area, New South Wales, Australia. It is located on the Shoalhaven River and the Oallen Ford Road about 97 km southeast of Goulburn and 106 km southwest of Nowra. The Oallen Ford Road has recently been upgraded to improve the connection from Canberra and Goulburn to Nerriga, Nowra and Jervis Bay. At the 2016 census, Oallen had a population of 141.The Shoalhaven River in the Oallen Ford area was an area where gold was panned for in the 19th century. There has been a recent revival of gold panning.


Panner may refer to:

Panners, people who engage in gold panning

Palfuria panner, a spider species of the family Zodariidae

Pine Creek, Northern Territory

Pine Creek is a small town in the Katherine region of the Northern Territory, Australia. As at the 2016 Census there were 328 residents of Pine Creek, which is the fourth largest town between Darwin and Alice Springs.

Pine Creek is just off the Stuart Highway (the road from the south to Darwin) and is still a notable tourist stop. A number of events are held each year to promote the town in the region. These include the annual Goldrush Festival, featuring the NT Gold Panning championships and Didgeridoo Jam, the Pine Creek Rodeo and Pine Creek Races. In 2005 a prominent resident of Pine Creek, Edward Ah Toy, was recognised as the Northern Territorian of the year.

Recreational gold mining

Recreational gold mining and prospecting has become a popular outdoor recreation in a number of countries, including New Zealand (especially in Otago), Australia, South Africa, Wales (at Dolaucothi and in Gwynedd), in Canada and in the United States especially. Recreational mining is often small-scale placer mining but has been challenged for environmental reasons. The disruption of old gold placer deposits risks the reintroduction of post gold rush pollution, including mercury in old mining deposits and mine tailings.

Santo Antônio River (Doce River)

The Santo Antônio River of Brazil rises in the Espinhaço mountains, in the district of Santo Antônio do Cruzeiro, city of Conceição do Mato Dentro, in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais. Running to the east, after a journey of 287 km, will pour its waters into the Rio Doce.

The bandeirantes used the river as a transportation route during the Brazil Gold Rush. Today it is used for fishing and gold panning, as well as leisure and tourism.

The Santo Antônio River is notable for its rocky course with a number of waterfalls, including Bahia Falls and Tabuleiro Falls (rated in the 2005 edition of Guia 4 Rodas as the prettiest in Brazil).

Taylor, British Columbia

The District of Taylor is a district municipality in northeastern British Columbia, Canada, located on mile 36 of the Alaska Highway. Taylor, a member municipality of the Peace River Regional District, covers an area of about 17.09 km² with 1,373 residents. As it is just south of the much larger city of Fort St. John, there is a sizable amount of commuting and interaction between the two.

The town sits on a terrace 60 m above the north bank of the Peace River. The first settler on the flat was a trapper named Herbert Taylor in 1911. The town incorporated in 1958 with industrial business beginning to locate there. Since then, Taylor has remained a small town, even though it has developed a large industrial base. It has become home to the annual World's Invitational Class 'A' Gold Panning Championships and was featured on the CBC Television program Village on a Diet.

Traditional mining

Traditional mining, also known as old-school mining, is a mining method involving the use of simple manual tools, such as shovels, pickaxes, hammers, chisels and pans. It is done in both surface and underground environments. Until the early 1900s, traditional mining was widely used throughout the world. It is still a used mining method in some countries, including Colombia and Peru in South America and Niger in Africa.

In traditional surface and underground mining, hammers and chisels with pickaxes and shovels are used. Minecarts are used to move ore and other materials in the process of mining. Pans are used for placer mining operations, such as gold panning.

The traditional method of cracking rock was fire-setting, which involved heating the rock with fire to expand it. Once the rock was heated by fire it was quenched with water to break it. Fire-setting was one of the most effective rock breaking methods until 1867 when Alfred Nobel invented dynamite.Traditional mining operations have created some of the largest handmade features on Earth, such as the Big Hole open pit mine in South Africa, which is claimed to be the largest hole on Earth excavated by hand.

Turon River

Turon River, a perennial stream that is part of the Macquarie catchment within the Murray–Darling basin, is located in the central western district of New South Wales, Australia. Partly situated in the Turon National Park, the river is host to numerous recreational and tourist activities such as horse riding, gold panning, canoeing, camping, and seasonal fishing.


Tweezers are small tools used for picking up objects too small to be easily handled with the human fingers. The word is most likely derived from tongs, pincers, or scissors-like pliers used to grab or hold hot objects since the dawn of recorded history. In a scientific or medical context they are normally referred to as forceps.

Tweezers make use of two third-class levers connected at one fixed end (the fulcrum point of each lever), with the pincers at the others.

People commonly use tweezers mainly for tasks such as plucking hair from the face or eyebrows, often using the term eyebrow tweezers. Other common uses for tweezers are as a tool to manipulate small objects, including for example small, particularly surface-mount, electronic parts, and small mechanical parts for models and precision mechanisms. Stamp collectors use tweezers (stamp tongs) to handle postage stamps which, while large enough to pick up by hand, could be damaged by handling; the jaws of stamp tongs are smooth. One example of a specialised use is picking out flakes of gold in gold panning. Tweezers are also used in kitchens for food presentation to remove bones from fillets of fish in a process known as pin boning.

Mineral processing
(by physical means)
(by heat)
(by aqueous solution)
(by electricity)


This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.