Using a vacuum system to prospect for gold is a really fun and interesting way to search for gold. It is a different way to look at the landscape, and gives a gold prospector a new tool to seek out gold in areas with limited water that are difficult to work by other methods.
Most vacuum systems for gold prospecting work very similar to a standard shop vacuum that you would use in your garage, except they are powered by a small motor. The motor is attached to a standard plastic bucket, and gold bearing material is literally sucked up and captured in the bucket. This material can then be further processed to extract the gold.
These dry land gold vacuums work especially well in dry areas that other mining methods will not work. A sluice box or gold pan is of little use in a desert environment with no water, which includes many of these mining districts in the southwest U.S. Using a dry vacuum lets you suck up material that would be very difficult to remove by other means.
Using gold vacuums also works great in combination with a quality gold metal detector. Many experience prospectors in the southwest use detectors to locate gold nuggets, but their limitation is that they cannot detect the smallest pieces of gold which can add up to very significant amounts. Once a few nuggets are found with a detector, it often pays to work the bedrock with a gold vac to capture those small bits of gold that couldn’t be found with the metal detector.
The other benefit of using this neat tool is that the actual processing of material is done using water. One of the most popular pieces of mining equipment in the desert is drywashers, which use air to agitate the mixture to extract gold. While these do work, the use of air is less efficient at separating out gold than water is. Even when a drywasher is set up properly, there is still going to be significant losses of gold. By using a vacuum setup to suck up the gold out of the bedrock, the material is conveniently captured in a bucket which can later be run through a sluice box or panned out to capture the gold. This allows for efficient gold recovery in a desert environment.
However, using these “dry land dredges” is not just limited to desert environments. Keep in mind that many mining districts have rich bench deposits that were left high and dry by ancient river channels.
Some of these locations can be extremely rich, but difficult to work using traditional methods. Using a gold vac, you can capture the gold in these bench deposits and take the high grade material down to the creek for further processing.
Maybe one of the biggest benefits of using this type of mining equipment is that it lets you think “outside the box”. You are no longer limited to working the same creeks and rivers that everyone else has already worked over so many times. This method allows you to seek out that virgin ground that has never been prospected before.More desert prospecting techniques:Metal Detecting for GoldDrywashing in the DesertMetal Detecting for Gold eBook