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Fine Gold - Fine Opportunity

Nuggets are great, but often, the majority of the gold that can be recovered in an area is fine gold. Fine gold has been ignored in many places, particularly during gold rushes when coarse gold was being found.

Rocks and Clay

It is important to wash all gravel and larger rocks so that fine gold isn't discarded before it gets into the sluice box. Pieces of solid clay may be able to be washed and discarded. Any clay that goes into the sluice must be completely broken up and suspended in the water so no balls of clay steal gold as they move down the sluice.

Regular Sluice Boxes for Fine Gold

The old standard sluice box - with riffles, expanded-metal-screen and matting - can do a pretty good job of recovering fine gold.

No material over a certain size goes into the sluice box. Larger pieces need more water to carry them and they jar things when they bounce. Whether you use a fridge-shelf or a trommel, everything over, maybe, half an inch, is washed and rejected.

The matting is important and is a small expense. It needs to make a layer of the calmest water in the sluice box. Whatever came with your sluice box may be okay. Miner's Moss is good - there are other products. You can also improvise. Most carpet doesn't work well, fills with black sand quickly and is difficult to clean out.

Engineered Bottom Sluice Boxes

There are new kinds of sluice boxes that don't use mesh or matting, and the shape of the bottom of the the sluice makes the riffles.

They can be good at capturing fine gold, but they don't catch all of it. Adding another sluice box will catch more. Up to a point, the longer the sluice box, the more fine gold you will catch.

In the image to the right, a long sluice is being used to recover fine gold from an abandoned channel of the Fraser River.

A Sluice-Screen-Sluice Setup

A good approach to recovering fine gold is... The Coarse Gold Sluice Box can be a fairly short, regular type of sluice box - you may already have something that can be used.

It is best if there is no physical/rigid connection between the Fine Gold Sluice Box and the rest of the wash plant.

The Fine Gold Sluice Box

Most of this sluice box has smooth sides and bottom. We want the water to flow as smoothly as possible, so gold can settle to the bottom of the flow. The new fashionable word for this is "slick plate".

This sluice box has sections - some may be separate pieces or they may all be parts of one piece.

You adjust the water flow and angle of the last section. You want to see light colored sand being washed away and black sand moving only part-way down the sluice.


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