Gold has been a valuable commodity nearly since the beginning of civilization. Ancient communities used the metal for jewelry and other ornaments, and today the resources is utilized for the same purpose, as well as in a whole host of other applications. While groups are mining gold for a number of the same reasons as their ancestors did, today's organizations are using much more advanced extraction processes. Let's take a look back through the years at the different strategies utilized to separate gold from the earth.
Early gold mining techniques
Long ago, individuals did not have to search as extensively as they do today to discover gold deposits, and the mining processes used reflected the ease of extraction. When it was discovered that the commodity could be found in shallow riverbeds, early miners used placing, a practice using a shallow metal pan to separate lighter river soil from heavier gold flakes.
Other strategies leveraged the fact that gold was a heavier substance than the surrounding dirt, including the winnowing approach utilized by early peoples in South America and other regions. This technique involved bumping clumps of dry soil on strips of wool. The movement would jostle heavier gold pieces in the soil, separating the deposits from the dirt.
Later, the Chinese invented the waterwheel strategy, where the natural push of moving water was used to power bailers and other mining mechanisms. While this approach was widely adopted, it was not very profitable for users as it mainly took place in the river channel and the majority of surface gold supplies were washed along the banks.
When gold deposits became scarce in rivers, miners adopted new strategies that enabled them to continue their search for the commodity underground. These approaches came later and relied on machines to drill large holes or shafts.
Today's gold mining organizations utilize practices in this same vein, and depend on the utilization of large equipment systems to tunnel into the earth and extract the valuable metal. International Business Times pointed out that much of current mining practices are automated.
"The days of picks, shovels and wheelbarrows have given way to explosives, muck machines and trucks or rail haulage," stated IBT.
However, in order for today's companies to continue their efforts, the machines must function effectively. The current mining leaders could lean on a range of technologies, including equipment monitoring systems to boost equipment reliability and prevent machine failures.