Gold Mining Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Kristina Washington-Morris

Kristina has taught a variety of elementary classes and has a master's degree in elementary education.

Have you ever held or worn gold jewelry? A gold watch, necklace, or bracelet can be quite expensive. This is because gold is a difficult mineral to find in nature. In this lesson, we will explore the different ways gold is mined.

What is Gold Mining?

Have you ever wondered where the gold from a pretty pair of earrings comes from? It's mined! Gold mining is the process of extracting gold from its natural form. Let's explore the process of gold mining and its history.

Where is Gold Found?

What would you do if a friend told you lots of gold was found in a river near your local park? Would you run to the park? Would you tell other friends or keep it a secret? In the past, this kind of information would cause a gold rush, where large groups of people rush to a place where gold has been discovered in nature. Maybe you've heard of the California Gold Rush in 1849!

Gold can be found in many parts of the world. Right now the largest amount of gold is on the ocean floor, but it's too difficult and costly to mine. When gold is found, it is either a vein of gold inside a rock, kind of like the veins you can see on the inside of your arm, or in small nuggets and flakes.

A Quartz Stone with a Gold Vein
gold vein

Small nuggets or flakes of gold are usually found in rivers. This happens when a rock with a gold vein has been worn away into gravel by the constant pressure of a glacier or river. It is amazing to think that a river could crush a rock over time, but think of the Grand Canyon. This huge canyon is over a mile deep and was created by a river!

A Large Gold Nugget, a Bottle of Small Gold Nuggets, and a Bottle of Gold Flakes

How is Gold Removed from the Earth?

There are two main types of gold mining: placer mining and hard rock mining.

Placer Mining

Placer mining is the act of removing gold nuggets, flakes, and dust from rivers. This type of mining was the method used in historical gold rushes. Placer mining can be done in a few different ways.

1. Panning for gold is done by holding a special pan and swirling gravel and water together from a river. Gold is heavy and will sink to the bottom, while the water and dirt swish out of the pan.

2. Cradles, or special gold catching boxes with mesh nets, are placed in rivers. They rock back and forth, like a cradle, to remove gold from river gravel.

3. Hydraulic mining uses strong hoses to spray water at hillsides and wash rocks and dirt into nearby rivers to extract gold that may have been in the hills.

4. Dredging is the process of dragging huge buckets on the bottom of a river. The buckets gather riverbed gravel and bring it to the surface to be sifted for gold.

This Painting by Edwin Stockqueler Shows a Group of Placer Miners
placer mining

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