For hundreds of years, humans have scoured the globe to find gold. From Spanish explorers trekking through the jungles of South America in search of treasure, to the California gold rush in the 1800s, it is clear people will do just about anything to get a slice of the pie. While many today may seek to invest in gold rather than hunt for new deposits, various sources of gold still exist for gold-hungry prospectors. One such possible source is black sand.
We’ll cover whether it is possible to find a profitable amount of gold in black sand.
What Is Black Sand, and Where Is It Found?
Black sand is composed of a mix of iron-group metals: Hematite and Magnetite. It can often be found at the beach or in naturally occurring “placer deposits” of minerals found in river beds and streams, or veins of ore in rock faces. Black sand can also be a byproduct in operations that mine zinc, copper, and other metals.
Gold ore and black sand are commonly found together, so prospectors often start their searches in areas with lots of black sand.
Is Gold Collected From Black Sand Profitable?
Whether or not the gold you collect from black sand is profitable boils down to two questions:
- What kind of black sand do you have?
- Does your black sand contain any gold?
When gold found in black sand comes in the form of small nuggets and flakes that aren’t attached to any minerals, they can be sifted and separated through the use of machinery like a shaker table, a process similar to the panning used by gold prospectors. This is by far the easiest way to collect gold.
Extracting gold from black sand starts to become less profitable as it becomes harder to separate. This is because the cost of extracting each troy ounce of gold increases. If gold is physically attached to minerals, one way to separate it is through smelting techniques. Another popular way to separate gold is “wet chemical extraction” where the black sand collected is immersed in a chemical bath.
It will only be worth collecting gold from black sand if the cost of extracting it does not surpass the value of the gold itself. If only a small amount of gold is present in a large amount of black sand, it may not be worth trying to extract it. On the other hand, if a sizable amount of gold is present in the sand, and it can be separated using an inexpensive process like sifting, it could be well worth the effort.
The Golden Rule
Although finding gold can be exciting, always make sure to do your research on your gold source before deciding to extract. It may not always be worth extracting gold, especially if it will be too costly to separate your new-found nuggets from black sand.