Gold mining Techniques

Essay by Anonymous UserCollege, UndergraduateA, June 1996

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The way to discover large amounts of gold, was to have the perfect mining technique. One of the earliest techniques was panning and cradling. This method consisted of a pick, a shovel and a washing dish and people either worked by themselves, or in a small group.

First of all, panning was a simple method but required a lot of skill. It worked by loading sediment onto the washing device which had a sieve(strain), and moving the pan to and fro until the heavier gold was separated from the dirt that was collected. Hargraves and his associates used the tin panning dish to separate the gold grains from the sediment, but later on in 1851, the cradle was introduced to speed up the gold mining process by holding larger amounts of dirt to sift through.

The cradle consisted of a wooden box that was on rockers, a metal strainer on top and two sloping shelves with thin slats of wood to trap grains of gold with the box.

Two men were needed to work the machine. One man shoveled sand and gravel onto the sieve, while a second man, rocked the cradle backwards and forwards with on hand and used a long-handled dipper to pour in water. Sometimes, they worked in a team of four, because often the shelves became coated with mud, and was preventing the gold from being caught.

Later on, cradles were replaced by sluice boxes or Long Toms. A number of boxes were placed end to end to create a long channel. When the running water carried the dirt through the boxes, the gold was caught in the slats nailed to the bottom of the boxes.

Puddling was used when the clay deposits were heavy. A puddling tub was used to break up the clay before...