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Gold!

14 July 2010 One Comment

As I mentioned the other day, I’m up in Alaska on business.  On the trip, we’ve had a chance to have some unique, fun experiences and excursions.  The event from last night took place at an historic mine where gold has been mined or panned for decades.  When we received a lesson and instruction about how to do it from a local (which was very interesting), the guy mentioned that many locals actually still pan for gold.

Since the seasons are so drastic here in Alaska, many of the employment opportunities are seasonal and individuals might have zero work during a long winter.  Many choose to pan for gold during this time.  Our guide in fact does it as a hobby, and mentioned last year he decided to hit it hard for 10 days.  In that time, he managed to pull 79 ounces of gold out of the creek (in very small pieces).  At the recent price of $1210 per ounce, that comes out to $95,590!  That comes out to $9,559 per day!  Amazing!

One Comment »

  • wingtipwalker said:

    …and I once caught a fish THIS big!

    So, as I understand it panning is essentially a small-scale placer (pronounced "plasser") mining operation where you're separating tiny gold particles from other things in the soil/gravel using the creek water to separate the heavy gold from the lighter other stuff.

    Commercial placer mines would be really happy with a gold concentrations of 0.2 ounces of gold per ton of gravel. Let's say he was in a really rich spot that averaged 0.5 oz of gold per ton. To get 79 ounces in 10 days, he would have had to process close to 200 tons of placer. With a pan!

    Granted I'm a skeptic…but that sounds like an awful lot of gold for some dude with a pan in a creek. But if that's true, I'm quitting my job and my wife and I are going 49ers style!