Artisanal mining refers to the use of simple rudimentary tools and processes to extract minerals resources such as gold from the soils on a small scale. In most developing the mining industry is not well developed. This means that large scale sophisticated mining operations are not very common. Most of the mining in such conditions involve small scale miners who don’t have enough resources to by sophisticated machines to help in the mining process.
Most of these miners use simple rudimentary methods to extract the important minerals. These are often very similar methods that were used by the early-day gold miners during the 1800’s.
In gold mining, artisanal miners use different methods depending on the equipment available to them. Some of the common artisanal mining includes:
This is a mining method that employs the processes that increase the concentration of gold in the ore by selectively removing the lighter materials. This is the most effective method when gold is found in rocks or other hard soils. First the rock containing the gold ore is crushed to decrease its grain size. The grain size of the crushed rocks should be of uniform size to increase the success of this method.
Once this has been done one of the following methods may then be used.
Panning is a gold mining method that uses water to separate the heavy gold particles from the lighter materials in the ore. When panning for gold you put your crushed gold ore in a wide pan and then add water to it. You then swirl the pan around with the aim of removing the lighter materials along with the water. The heavier gold particles will remain at the bottom. Panning is one of the low cost gold mining methods that you can use; however, it is important you have the time and the skill to do it properly. There are many variations of the basic gold panSluicing
Sluicing also uses water to recover gold from gravel. Here a series of angled sluice is used to wash the material. When using sluicing method you wash your ore done a sluice inclined at an angle of between 5 and 15 degrees. Usually the floor of a sluice is made with a special carpet so that when you wash your gold ore, the heavy gold sinks into the carpet as the lighter materials are washed down the sluice.
The force of the water need to be carefully regulated to prevent gold from being washed off the sluice. There are many variations of sluice boxes and experimentation is needed to increase gold recovery depending on the mining area.
This method employs a simple vessel that rotates against a central point to separate the heavier gold from the lighter materials within the ore. A centrifuges vessel works by separating various materials by their density. When using this method you pour your crushed gold ore into the vessel using a pipe at the top of the vessel. You then add about 60-75% of water to the vessel before starting the machine. As the vessel rotates the heavier gold particles are caught at the bottom of the vessels while the lighter materials are eliminated.
Also Read: Focus Prospecting Efforts on Fine Gold Placers
And: Commercial Placer Mining in the United States
Flotation method is more popular with large-scale miners although it is also used by artisanal miners. This is the perfect method for processing gold found in complex materials. The flotation method involves mixing your crushed ore with water and then you add frothing agents in a single floatation machine. You then use a tube to release air into the floatation machine. This creates air bubbles to the bottom of the machine and this helps attach hydrophilic materials such as gold to the bubbles and thus float on the water. The gold is then recovered as the rest of the materials is discarded.
A Shaker Table is another method commonly used at larger mining operations. When set up properly they are extremely efficient at recovering the smallest gold particles. In many mining operations, shaker tables are the preferred method of free-milling gold separation from black sands or crushed ores.
Next: Removing Fine Placer Gold from Black Sands
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