How to Identify Gold Ore

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Gold is a precious metal mined to create practical and ornamental pieces of work. Refined gold ore can be melted, poured and cast into almost any shape to make jewelry. There are numerous industrial applications for gold, as well. Many electronics and medical devices rely on gold's ability to conduct electricity and resist corrosion. Here's how to identify gold ore.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Sluice pan
  • Shovel

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  1. 1

    Find an area that has been proven to produce gold. Mountainous areas that have strong granite or crystalline deposits are a good start. Areas where geologic upheaval and pressure have occurred is another prime location.

  2. 2

    Mine the rock from the area. Start with a good amount of rock samples to look for gold ore. Rocks the size of a human hand are best to sample. Look closely for quartz or crystal deposits, since this is where super-heated steam may have driven gold into "veins" of gold ore.

  3. 3

    Test the waters of any nearby streams or rivers. Gold ore can be washed many miles from its source and lodge under river rocks and obstructions. Take a sluice pan and sample the sand and silt from the riverbed near boulders and river bends.

  4. 4

    Search through the discarded heaps of waste materials from old gold ore mines. Many old abandoned gold mines that flourished during the "gold rush" era have waste deposits that may contain viable amounts of overlooked gold ore.

Tips and warnings

  • Look in areas where a river has changed course in ancient times. A river may have changed course several times during its life, creating hidden deposits of gold ore.
  • Take along a good metal detector. These tools help to discriminate between gold and other metals and debris.
  • Obtain all permits and permissions when searching for gold ore.
  • Take a handheld GPS unit along to mark any areas to return to or to help you return to base.

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