We are Gold Miners
WE ARE GOLD MINERS
Our tradition is thousands of years old. We have mined in all the continents of the world. We have done this as slaves, as prisoners, and as free men and women. We have been robbed, taxed and regulated. We have suffered unimaginable hardship and lived in luxury. We take unbelievable risks to make our daily living. We are from every culture, every race, and from every epoch of human history.
Photo by Jim Leary: Modern placer mining plants are fairly mobile, and use conveyors to feed and/or take away tailings. Previously mined areas are filled in with tailings and the plant is moved to mine a new area.
In the 1800s, we came to the Klondike from every part of the world. Some already knew how to mine placer gold. Most knew nothing about mining and how pitifully slight the chance was that they would ever make any money. There was a recession in the 1890s. Money was tight and opportunities few. This was an opportunity for adventure and wealth.
Photo by Lil Grumbach-Hambrook: S&L Mining (Simon and Lil Hambrook) feeding a 6’x20’ New Zealand style trommel with a Hitachi EX300 excavator.
The methods we use have not changed much. We look for sedimentary deposits, current or ancient streambeds where erosion has moved thousands of tons of rock downstream and left the gold behind. We study every clue that the earth leaves us and then we dig the treasure laden gravel. We mix it with water in the right proportions and let it tumble and fall over an artificial stream of just the right gradient and proportions. If we have done everything right by testing the ground to make sure it is economic, assesing the gold to make sure we can recover it and if we work long hours, then we are rewarded. We pay our bills, we have money in our pocket, and we start looking for the next place to mine.
Photo by William LeBarge: The Ross Mining operations on Dominion Creek. In 2001 Ross Mining was awarded the Robert Leckie Long Time Achievement award for reclamation.
Now we use large bulldozers, excavators, trucks, and pumps. We have replaced the pick and shovel of the very first prospectors and evolved from the large ditches carrying water for hydraulic stripping and the power dams supplying electricity for the dredges. We have regulations to keep the ground contoured and to prevent unrestricted flows of sediment into the rivers and streams. We are always looking for better ways to do things. We still have the challenge to find the gold and get it out of the ground.
Photo by Tara Christie: A reclaimed mining area at Ross Mining. Reclaimed mines are often productive areas for moose and other wildlife.
Today we are challenged to extract it and still protect our environment. The areas you see around Dawson were mined before the days of environmental regulation. Today’s mining does not leave those kind of scars on the landscape. Placer gold mining (alluvial gold mining) has a rich history. As the world changes so do we have to change and adapt.
Photo by Michael Edwards: Using high pressure water to melt permafrost and remove overburden is called monitoring. In modern days, the sediment-laden water is contained in settling ponds to protect Yukon streams.
Photo by Lil Grubach-Hambrook