Where to Dig
Today the process of mining for gold is very complex. It does not begin with a pick ax and shovel and hopes of striking it rich. It begins with a well thought out plan. First, a company will secure the funds and backing to set up the necessary equipment and carry out the recovery of the gold should it be found. Then they will employ geologists and specialist to analyze the rock contents in a particular geographic area. The specialists look for things like igneous rocks, quartz and ore which indicates gold may be in the area.
Starting the Extraction
If there is determined to be enough probability to find a large amount of gold in the area, the gold mining company will begin their operation. Today, large machines are used to grind away rock, ply away soil and basically strip down the earth until they reach the "pockets" where gold is located. In some cases, this requires drilling through solid bedrock, and then creating a mine shaft with specialized digging equipment. The mine shaft is built to intersect the gold pockets, and workers are then dispatched to extract the gold.
Sometimes gold is spread in very thin quantities throughout the ore in the soil. In this case extraction methods are used to remove the gold from the dirt. Once the gold ore is removed from the ground, the rocks are sorted and crushed into fine powder, then this is mixed with a solution and turned into sludge. The sludge is stored in tanks and then sent through a "clarifier" and finally through a filter where the gold is separated from the liquid and recovered.