So how does a placer mine work? It's a combination of heavy machinery, natural resources and environmental factors that need to work in concert in order for the miner to process as much ground as possible.

Let's take a closer look at the basic structure of a placer mine. Use the buttons on the right hand side below to learn more about the role each part plays during the process of mining.
And here's a simplified overview of the mining process itself:
  1. Using a track or wheel-based loader, the miner digs into the paystreak and collects a bucket of gravel.
  2. The load of gravel is driven to the sluice box and dumped onto the grizzly.
  3. The coarse parts of the load (boulders and larger rocks) are filtered out by the grizzly and fall away. The rest is washed through the sluice box.
  4. The loader returns to the placer to collect another load (and so on).
  5. After dumping a number of buckets, tailings build up around the sluice box, and need to be cleared away.
  6. Once hundreds of buckets have been transported and emptied, it becomes time to turn off the loader, shut down the water, and empty the sluice box -- a process known as the "clean-up". At this point, a quick pan of the collected dirt can reveal the concentration of the mined gold deposits.
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