Panning for gold is a method used to separate gold from other sediments carried in the water. The pan on display is one of three in our collection and date from the Mid-19th to Late 20th centuries.
This gold pan was dug out of the peat at Kildonan and is thought to have been used at the time of the Kildonan Gold Rush of 1869. It’s quite a large example with a ridge near the rim preventing small flakes of gold from escaping.
The short lived but intense extractive activities of the prospectors’ greatly disturbed and polluted the river banks and water and adversely affected the local ecosystem in the area. It was able to recover over time when the Gold Rush came to an end.
The contemporary gold mining industry has had devastating impacts on global ecosystems and indigenous communities. The majority of the world’s gold is extracted from open pit mines, where huge volumes of earth are scoured away and processed for trace elements.
Much of this waste carries with it mercury and cyanide, which are used to extract the gold from the rock. The resulting erosion clogs streams and rivers and can eventually taint marine ecosystems far downstream of the mine site. Air quality is also compromised by gold mining, which releases hundreds of tons of airborne elemental mercury every year.