Susie Hand Dredging

The great outdoors: beauty and the beast

It may no longer be the Wild West out there but nature plays by its own rules and sometimes those rules can be a little rough for humans. You need to remember this when you go into the great outdoors. Risk factors include the weather and other forces of nature, and wild animals. You need to take the appropriate precautions because no amount of gold is worth the loss of a life or the risk of a serious accident.


Respect nature

The first aspect of nature that you need to take into account when planning a prospecting trip is the weather. Mountain weather in particular is very changeable and violent storms and flash floods are possible at any time of the year. Do not underestimate the dangers of the desert heat and remember the desert nights can be bitterly cold.
You must:
* Check the weather forecast
* Take appropriate clothing
* Take an emergency locator beacon, mountain radio or cell phone (if there is coverage)
* Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.
Safety while you are prospecting is also crucial, as carelessness in the outdoors can be deadly.
* Safe work practices such as wearing safety glasses when breaking open rocks
* Watch for rock falls and take no risks
* Take a well-equipped remote first aid kit with you and know how to use it–this includes learning emergency techniques such as CPR
* Keep an eye on the weather—the weather can change rapidly
* Take plenty of clean drinking water and a water purification kit, as bacteria in the water can make you very ill.
Almost all injuries and fatalities due to wild animals occur when people invade the animal’s territory. The animal perceives your behavior as a threat and responds accordingly. Respect wild animals and:
* Know the habitat and habits of dangerous animals in the area
* Keep a safe distance from any dangerous animals
* Know how to respond to animal attacks or snakebites.

Respect the environment

The most precious resource out there in the wilds is not gold: it’s the wild, wonderful world of nature itself. The human race will survive without gold but we cannot live without the generosity of nature. Nature provides us with water, oxygen and food, and we need to cherish nature and ensure that our presence in the great outdoors does not have a negative impact on nature.
Make sure that you:
* Do not cut down living trees for firewood
* Ensure all campfires have been extinguished before you leave
* Take all your rubbish with you
* Minimize disruption to plants and river ecosystems when digging or dredging.
Some prospectors use highly toxic chemicals such as mercury and cyanide to extract fine gold from surrounding material. This practice can do catastrophic damage to the environment. This practice needs to stop, as there are safe alternatives available.


Safe techniques include:
* Gold beneficiation
* Corn starch
* The Haber process
* Vibration or electro-magnetic separation techniques
There is gold out there. Go and get it but have fun, be safe and respect the environment.
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