Digging Tools for Gold Mining

Old gold mines were dug with shovels and picks.
Old gold mines were dug with shovels and picks. (Image: Ablestock.com/AbleStock.com/Getty Images)

Unlike gold panning, gold mining involves the use of equipment that specifically excavates earth and rock to aid the mining process. The equipment typically needs to be lightweight but durable and strong in terms of integrity. Many tools have a metal edge to bite into the earth and rock. Gold-mining tools can be purchased in different sizes, from hand dowels to foldable shovels for heavy work. In more industrialized mining operations, drills provide faster movement of earth. These types of tools typically require permits for use, as they can cause significant environmental damage.

Hand Shovels

For basic, quick removal of dirt and debris, a hand dowel or blade works well. Typically made of lightweight metal, such as aluminum, and having a durable handle, this type of shovel can be easily packed and carried and quickly cleaned. The long blade design of the shovel helps with poking and prying small gold pieces loose without harming your fingers or hands.

Mining Picks

Picks, available in both small and large sizes, are typically made of a strong metal such as steel. This tool is designed to chip and pry away at stubborn rock pieces that cannot be budged or broken with a basic hand shovel. A pick is easy to transport; simply strap the handle in a loop, with the head facing upward. It can also be used as a weapon to fend off an animal in remote locations. Mining picks can be obtained in small, one-hand designs or larger, two-handed versions. Picks, versatile and widely available, can be found in hiking, mining and hardware stores.

Helmet Lighting

Gold mining can involve going into crevasses and caves, making a helmet lamp a critical accessory. Strapped to a cave helmet, the battery-operated lamp sits on the front of the helmet, positioned so that the light beam falls on the whatever is in the wearer’s field of view.

Hand Brush

Digging and picking can raise a lot of dust. A brush can quickly clean loosened dirt and debris, clearing out a targeted area easily and giving the user the ability to better see the area of excavation. Sufficient lighting is crucial if you are seeking gold as part of an archaeological find, as opposed to just gold ore, or when performing delicate excavation to preserve the size and shape of a large ore piece.

Hammer Drills

Automated and designed to provide the benefits of a jackhammer, this tool can make quick work of basic stone and compacted earth, excavating significant amounts of area quickly. The hammer drill bit, made of hardened steel, can break apart softer stone easily. Most hammer drills require a stronger power source than batteries; a portable electric or gas-driven generator is required in most applications. Environmental permits may be required for excavation with a hammer drill.

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