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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 12, Issue 8 (November 1, 1937)

To Prospect

To Prospect

Gold deposited usually sinks to a “wash,” that is some conglomerate that will hold it. Silt will not hold it, so we dig a hole until we come to the “wash,” sometimes grey, sometimes yellow, sometimes blue. Twelve to eighteen inches in depth will suffice. We fill our dish with wash, and take it to the nearest stream. Here we carefully wash off all the stones and page 38 page 39 silt. The gold being the heaviest will sink to the bottom. Gold will not stay on wet surfaces, so it goes into the dish as we wash out the sand and stones. Careful washing leaves our prospect in the dish. According to the number and nature of the colours we decide whether it is a payable place.

So the prospector seeks until he finds a suitable place. No place is suitable unless it can be supplied with water, either by a race, or by river or stream or burn.

The first process is the setting-in of the box. The box is placed so that the water can flow over the iron plate. There must be sufficient fall in the situation for the water to wash out the silt and smaller rubble. Having set his box to his satisfaction, the miner sets to work in earnest. This is where the real shovelling comes in. He shovels the dirt and stones from his “paddock,” on to the iron plate. The water running over the plate washes the gold from the dirt; the gold sinks through the holes in the plate, on to the matting and sacking. The stones are removed from the plate when they are sufficiently washed. Thus he toils, removing yards of stone and silt, ever hoping for reward, ever thinking and talking in terms of “wash” and gold.