Mining Glossary

GPAA – Gold Prospectors Association of America (see the links page)

PLP – Public Lands for the People (see the links page)

WMA – Western Mining Association (see the links page)

AMRA – American Mining Rights Association (see links page)

Gold Panning – Panning is the action that is done for gold with water that is used to create the state of suspension that allows the gravity to make the gold flakes sink into the riffles of a gold pan.

Sluice Box – The Sluice Box is the most commonly used tool in mining aside from the shovel and pan. A long, narrow, wood or metal artificial channel that water passes through when put in a creek or stream. Sluice boxes catch the heavy gold and allow the dirt and junk material to pass on through.

Dredge – A common piece of mining equipment today, the dredge sucks up dirt and gravel from within the stream bed by the use of water pressure. The dredge is operated by the use of a water pump and a network of hoses.

High Banking – A highbanker is a sluice box with mobility. Instead of being put right in the creek like a sluice, the highbanker uses a water pump to transport the water into higher and sometimes richer placer reserves. The main advantage is the highbanker is able to run more material in less time than the sluice.

Booming – using water and dredging equipment in areas other than flowing water.

Tailing Pile – Gravel, dirt, and rocks with no gold. Whatever is left behind from mining activity.

Placer Mining – Placer Mining is the most common form of mining, it involves mining gold that has been washed away from its source and deposited in small cracks, holes, or sand bars in the mainstream of a river. It usually involves the use of water in some form. Placer mining tools generally include sluice boxes, dredge, highbanker and always the pan.

Classifying – Using mesh screens to separate material in smaller and smaller categories in order to aid in the retrieval of gold. The thought being that even while heavy and very small piece of gold can get lost or displaced by clay or large enough rocks. Panning is easier when the gold and non-gold are roughly the same size. Classifiers are numbered. A ½ inch classifier would be a #2 and stop any material larger than ½ inch from passing through. A quarter inch classifier would be a #4 stopping material over a quarter inch. Common classifiers are 2,4,8,12,20,30,50 and 100. Material that stays in #20 would be your 20+ while material that continues on through would be 20- or smaller. While we’d rather find nuggets, much of the gold recovered today is minus 20 and smaller.

Color – “Color” is what you want to see in your pan! Gold.

Picker – a piece of gold big enough to pick up out of your pan

Fly poop – Flour Gold/Gold Dust – Gold that is so fine that it looks and feels like flour or dust.

Flea poop – Smaller specimen than fly poop….. time to find a better place to dig.

Nugget – Way bigger than a picker!

Metal detecting – Electronic prospecting is a method for detecting gold, silver or other types of precious metals using a metal detector.

Sourdough – A highly experienced miner who has prospected for many years.

Greenhorn – Newbie wishing to become a Sourdough.

Whistleberries – Beans (from Tom Massie)

Black Sand – A common variety is black iron oxide in mineral form also known as magnetite and can be picked up with a magnet. Other black sands are heavies but non-magnetic. If you are finding black sands you’re at least in the area where heavy materials have settled.

Leaverite – Good looking rock or material that is really worthless and you should “leave her right” there where you found it. (from Tom Massie)

Miner’s Moss – A special stringy spongy looking material used in sluice boxes to trap fine gold.

Please email the webmaster if you have any suggestions for adding to the glossary.