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GOLD RUSH


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GOLD 02

GOLD MINING

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GOLD RUSHES 29

THE KLONDIKE GOLD RUSH 51

PRESENT GOLD MINING


GOLD Gold is element 79 on the periodic table. It’s symbol being ‘Au’ deriving from the Latin word: aurum, meaning, “shining dawn.” Gold is a metal unlike any other. It is dense, soft and flexible when 100% pure. Its colour is metallic yellow. It has and always will be a very sought after metal. The reason for this being it is very

rare. This rarity makes it very valuable and this metal has captured and taken over people’s attention for generations. So much so gold rushes became very popular in the 19th century. This book will give you an insight into to the process of gold mining and the struggles that many faced in their quests for gold.

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MINING Gold mining is the process of mining gold or gold ores from the ground. The earliest known gold objects that have been found date back to around 4600 B.C. They were found in an old burial site in Bulgaria. Bronze age gold objects are plentiful, especially in Ireland and Spain, and there are several well-known possible sources. There’s no doubt that ancient Egyptians also had a big appetite for gold. Descriptions of the metal appeared in hieroglyphs as early as 2600 B.C.

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By 1500 B.C., Gold had become the recognized medium of exchange for international trade. Gold has been mined since. However the most noticeable and large scale mining was during the 19th century. Gold rushes appeared in many remote locations all around the world. Attracting a lot of attention, migration, failure and some success. Early discoveries of gold relied on the blind luck of someone spotting a yellow glint in a stream or in a crack between rocks. They


know, for example, that the metal is present in almost all rocks and soil, but the grains are so small that they’re invisible. Only in a few areas is the gold concentrated enough to be mined profitably. Scientists, known as prospectors or explorationists, search for these deposits. This is known as prospecting. Sometimes, these deposits contain pure gold. In most deposits, however, gold is combined with silver or another metal. After finding indications of gold, scientists drill to obtain

samples from below the surface, which they analyse for their gold content. If there’s enough gold in the deposit, the mining company may set up a large-scale mining operation. Because gold occurs in lots of different places, there are lots of different ways to mine it. Throughout this book I will guide you through the techniques, processes and rushes.

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PANNING Gold panning, is a form of placer mining, 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 cheap cost and the relatively simple and easy process. It is the oldest method of mining. 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. However, the productivity rate is comparably smaller compared to other methods.

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Gold panning is a simple process. Once a suitable placer deposit is located, some gravel from it is scooped into a pan, where it is 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 high specific gravity sink to the bottom of the sediment during agitation and remain within the pan for examination and collection by the gold panner.


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SLUICING Sluicing is usually used in placer mining. When working in one pit or area. Sluicing requires a device called a ‘sluice box’. This is a long tray with several riffles in it for catching gold. The box is then placed into a creek or a river and the water is either run over it from upstream or pumped over it, separating gold deposits from gravel and dirt. As gold is heavier than everything else.

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ROCKER BOX A rocker box is a gold mining implement for separating gold from sand and gravel which was used in placer mining in the 19th century. It consists of a high-sided box, which is open on one end and on top, and is placed on rockers. It was designed to be used in areas with less water than a sluice box.

The inside bottom of the box is lined fles and a usually a carpet similar to a sluice. On top of the box is a classifier sieve which screens-out larger pieces of rock and other material, allowing only finer sand and gravel through. It sits at an angle and points towards the closed back of the box.

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HARD ROCK

MINING Rather than searching through sediment for loose gold pieces, hard rock mining is the process of removing the gold and gold ore that is embedded within rock. Tunnels or shafts are dug deep into the ground in order to strike gold and bring it to the surface.

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DREDGING A gold dredge is a placer miner machine that extract gold from sand, gravel and dirt using water and mechanical methods. They float on the water and one or two people usually operate small ones. Originally they were large multistory machines but have shrunk to the more common ‘suction dredge’ which consists of a sluice box supported by pontoons, attached to a suction hose, which is controlled by a miner working beneath the water. These are used to target the bottom of rivers or the sea.

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GOLD RUSHES

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A gold rush is a period of intense migration of workers to an area that has had a wide spread discovery of gold deposits. Major gold rushes took place in the 19th century in Australia, New, Brazil, Canada, South, and the United States, while smaller gold rushes took place elsewhere.

merchants and transportation facilities made large profits. The resulting increase in the world’s gold supply stimulated global trade and investment. Historians have written extensively about the migration, trade, colonization, and environmental history associated with gold rushes.

The permanent wealth that resulted was distributed widely because of reduced migration costs and low barriers to entry. While gold mining itself was unprofitable for most diggers and mine owners, some people made large fortunes, and the

Old rushes were typically marked by a general buoyant feeling of a “free for all� in income mobility, in which any single individual might become abundantly wealthy almost instantly, as expressed in the California Dream. Gold rushes helped spur a huge


immigration that often led to permanent settlement of new regions and define a significant part of the culture of the Australian and North American frontiers. As well, at a time when the world’s money supply was based on gold, the newly mined gold provided economic stimulus far beyond the gold fields. A rush typically begins with the discovery of placer gold made by an individual. At first the gold may be washed from the sand and gravel by individual miners with little training, using a gold pan or similar simple instrument. Once it is

clear that the volume of goldbearing sediment is larger than a few cubic meters, the placer miners will build rockers or sluice boxes, with which a small group can wash gold from the sediment many times faster than using gold pans. Typically the heyday of a placer gold rush would last only a few years. The free gold supply in streambeds would become depleted somewhat quickly, and the initial phase would be followed by prospecting for veins of lode gold that were the original source of the placer gold.

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There are a few rushes that are more widely recognized. Various gold rushes occurred in Australia over the second half of the 19th century. The most significant of these, although not the only ones, were the New South Wales gold rush and Victorian gold rush in 1851, and the Western Australian gold rushes of the 1890s. In New Zealand the Central Otago Gold Rush from 1861 attracted prospectors from the California Gold Rush and the Victorian Gold

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Rush, and many moved on to the West Coast Gold Rush from 1864 The first significant gold rush in the United States was in Cabarrus County, North Carolina, in 1799 at today’s Reed’s Gold Mine. Thirty years later, in 1829, the Georgia Gold Rush in the southern Appalachians occurred. It was followed by the California Gold Rush of 1848–55 in the Sierra Nevada. One of the

last “great gold rushes” was the Klondike Gold Rush in Canada’s Yukon Territory from 1896–99 Between 1883 and 1906 Tierra del Fuego experienced a gold rush attracting a large number of Chileans, Argentines and Europeans to the archipelago.


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IT WAS IMPOSSIBLE UNCHANGED, AND THO WERE NEVER QUITE


TO EMERGE FROM IT OSE WHO SURVIVED IT E THE SAME AGAIN. - Pierre Berton


THE KLONDIKE GOLD RUSH The Klondike Gold Rush, also called the ‘Yukon Gold Rush’, ‘the Alaska Gold Rush’ and the ‘Last Great Gold Rush’, was a migration by an estimated 100,000 prospectors to the Klondike region of the Yukon in northwestern Canada between 1896 and 1899. Gold was discovered there on August 16, 1896 and, when news reached Seattle and San Francisco

the following year, it triggered a “stampede” of prospectors. The journey proved too hard for many, and only between 30,000 and 40,000 arrived. Some became wealthy, but the majority went in vain and only around 4,000 struck gold. The Klondike Gold Rush ended in 1899 after gold was discovered in Nome, prompting an exodus from the Klondike.


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KLONDIKE CROWDS

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KLONDIKE

TRAVELLING TO


Reaching the Klondike was a task in itself. Upon arrival the hopeful miners, had to first decide on which path to take to get there. All were as equally dangerous as each other. Klondike could only be reached by the Yukon River either upstream from its delta, downstream from its head or from somewhere in the middle through its tributaries. Riverboats could navigate the Yukon in the summer from the delta until a point called Whitehorse above Klondike. Travel in general was made

difficult by both the geography and climate. The region was mountainous, the rivers winding and sometimes impassable; the short summers could be hot, from October to June, during the long winters, temperatures could drop below −50 °C.

steep, whereas the Chilkoot was shorter and more difficult. Aids for to carry their supplies varied; some had brought dogs, horses, Mules or oxen, whereas others had to rely on carrying their equipment on their backs or on sleds pulled by hand.

Of the several overland routes, the Chilkoot Trail was the most direct, least expensive, and, soon enough, most popular. The other primary route to the headwaters of the Yukon River, however, was also based out of Skagway: the rival White Pass route. The White Pass route was slightly longer but less rigorous and

Shortly after the stampede began in 1897, the Canadian authorities had introduced rules requiring anyone entering Yukon Territory to bring with them a year’s supply of food; typically this weighed around 1,150 pounds. By the time camping equipment, tools and other essentials were included; a typical traveller was transporting as much as a ton in weight.

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DAWSON CITY Dawson City was created in the early days of the Klondike gold rush. It’s population rose to 30,000 as the stampeders arrived over the passes. The centre of the town was lined with buildings and warehouses, together with log cabins and tents spreading out across the rest of the settlement. There was no running water or sewerage, and only two springs for drinking water. In spring, the unpaved streets were churned into thick mud and in summer the settlement reeked of human effluent and was plagued by flies and

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mosquitoes. The newly built town proved highly vulnerable to fire. Houses were made of wood, heated with stoves and lit by candles and oil lamps; water for emergencies was wanting, especially in the frozen winters. The remoteness of Dawson proved an ongoing problem for the supply of food and as the population grew to 5,000 in 1897 this became critical. When the rivers iced over, it became clear that there would not be enough food for winter. Under these conditions scurvy proved a major problem in


Dawson City. Despite these challenges, the huge quantities of gold coming through Dawson City encouraged a lavish lifestyle amongst the richer prospectors. Saloons were typically open 24 hours a day, with whiskey the standard drink. Gambling was popular, with the major saloons each running their own rooms; a culture of high stakes evolved. However, when the rush ended and the promise of gold moved to Nome, Alaska. Taking the population of Dawson with it.

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KLONDIKE

MINING METHODS In the sub-Arctic climate of the Klondike, a layer of hard permafrost lay 6 feet below the surface. Traditionally, this had meant that mining in the region only occurred during the summer months, but the pressure of the gold rush made such a delay unacceptable. Late 19th century technology existed for dealing with this problem, including hydraulic mining and stripping and dredging but this required heavier equipment that could not be brought into the Klondike during the gold rush. Instead, the miners relied on wood fires to soften the ground to a depth of about 14 inches and then

removing the resulting gravel. The process was repeated until the gold was reached. In theory, no support of the shaft was necessary because of the permafrost although in practice sometimes the fire melted the permafrost and caused collapses. The resulting “dirt� brought out of the mines froze quickly in winter and could only be processed during the warmer summer months. An alternative, more efficient, approach called steam thawing was devised between 1897 and 1898; this used a furnace to pump steam directly into the ground.

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In the summer, water would be used to sluice and pan the dirt, separating out the heavier gold from gravel. This required miners to construct sluices, which were sequences of wooden boxes 15 feet (4.6 m) long, through which the dirt would be washed; up to 20 of these might be needed for each mining operation. The sluices in turn required lots of water, usually produced by creating a dam and ditches or crude pipes.

“Bench gold� mining on the hillsides could not use sluice lines because water could not be pumped that high up. Instead, these mines used rockers. Finally, the resulting gold dust could be exported out of the Klondike; exchanged for paper money at the rate of $16 ($430) per troy ounce through one of the major banks that opened in Dawson City, or simply used as money when dealing with local traders.


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THE END

OF THE

RUSH Despite the improvements in communication and transport, the rush faltered from 1898 on. The end began in summer 1898 when many of the prospectors arriving in Dawson City found themselves unable to make a living and left for home. Another factor in the decline was the change in Dawson City, which had developed throughout 1898, metamorphosing from into a wealthy boom town. Modern luxuries were introduced. It was no longer as attractive a location for many

prospectors, used to a wilder way of living. The final trigger, however, was the discovery of gold elsewhere. In August 1898, gold had been found at Atlin Lake at the head of the Yukon River, generating a flurry of interest, but during the winter of 1898–99 much larger quantities were found at Nome at the mouth of the Yukon. In 1899, a flood of prospectors from across the region left for Nome, 8,000 from Dawson alone during a single week in August. The Klondike gold rush was over.

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KLONDIKE LEGACY Only a handful of the 100,000 people who left for the Klondike during the gold rush became rich. They typically spent $1,000 ($27,000) each reaching the region, which when combined exceeded what was produced from the gold fields between 1897 and 1901. At the same time, most of those who did find gold lost their fortunes in the subsequent years. They often died penniless, attempting to reproduce their earlier good fortune in fresh mining opportunities. The impact of the gold rush on the Native peoples of the region was considerable. The Tlingit and the Koyukon peoples prospered in the short term from their work as guides, packers and from selling food and supplies

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to the prospectors. In the longer term, however, especially the H채n people living in the Klondike region suffered from the environmental damage of the gold mining on the rivers and forests. Their population had already begun to decline after the discovery of gold along Fortymile River in the 1880s but dropped catastrophically after their move to the reserve, a result of the contaminated water supply and smallpox. The H채n found only few ways to benefit economically from the gold rush and their fishing and hunting grounds were largely destroyed Dawson City declined after the gold rush. Transport improvements meant that heavier mining equipment could be brought in and larger,


more modern mines established in the Klondike, revolutionising the gold industry. Gold production increased until 1903 as a result of the dredging and hydraulic mining but then declined; by 2005, approximately 1,250,000 pounds (570,000 kg) had been recovered from the Klondike area By 1912, only around 2,000 inhabitants remained compared to the 30,000 of the boom years and the site was becoming a ghost town. By 1972, 500 people were living in Dawson whereas the nearby settlements created during the gold rush had been entirely abandoned. In the 21st century Dawson City still has a small gold mining industry. Tourism, drawing on the legacy of the gold rush, also plays a role in

the local economy. Many buildings in the center of the town reflect the style of the era. The population has grown since the 1970s, with 1,300 recorded in 2006. The valley of the Klondike River also reflects the days of the gold rush by the tails from the heavy dredging that occurred after itThe events of the Klondike gold rush rapidly became embedded in North American culture, being captured in poems, stories, photographs and promotional campaigns long after the end of the stampede. In the Yukon, Discovery Day is celebrated on aa holiday, and the events of the gold rush are promoted by the regional tourist industries.

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PRESENT

GOLD MINING There are about 10 - 30 million small-scale miners around the world, according to Communities and Small-Scale Mining (CASM). Approximately 100 million people are directly or indirectly dependent on small-scale mining. For example, there are 800,000 to 1.5 million artisanal miners in Democratic Republic of Congo, 350,000 to 650,000 in Sierra Leone, and 150,000 to 250,000 in Ghana, with millions more across Africa. Mining in the Klondike and Alaska is still going strong. TV channels have picked up on it and there are now plenty of gold mining programs that include placer mining, large-scale water dredging on the bearing sea throughout summer and in the horror of the Alaskan winters. From Greenland to Ghana new gold rushes are starting out. Its popularity is rising but no modern gold rush will compare to the raw brutality of the previous ones.

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GOLD MINE PIT IN NEVADA, USA.


GOLD MINING ON THE BERING SEA, NOME, ALASKA


YANACOCHA GOLD MINE, PERU


BODDINGTON MINE, WESTERN AUSTRALLIA


Gold & The Klondike Gold Rush  

This is part of a university project I did on Gold and the Klondike Gold Rush.

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