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How is gold formed?

Geography | 7-14 yrs | Interactive

What is gold?

Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au (Latin : Aurum) and atomic number 79. It is one of the precious metals, known to man. In its purest form, Gold is considered a noble metal and is a slightly, reddish yellow, dense, soft, malleable and ductile metal.

It is one of the least reactive elements and occurs in its native, free, elemental state as nuggets or grains, in rocks, in veins and in alluvial deposits. Sometimes it is found mixed with other elements as gold compounds.

How is gold processed?

Gold was one of the first precious metals to be mined because it commonly occurs in its original state. It is a scarce metal and it is concentrated by geological processes to form commercial deposits of two principal types : lode (primary) deposits and placer (secondary) deposits.

Lode Mining

Lode deposits are the targets for gold prospectors seeking gold at the site of its deposit from mineral solutions. Gold is collected in a precipitate form and further purified. in lode mining, ores of gold are collected from the source by quarrying rocks with the ore deposits. This is known as the mother lode, geology.
A mother lode is the principal vein or zone of veins of gold or silver, found in rocks.

Placer Mining

Placer mining is the mining of water stream bed deposits. It is also done by open pit or open cast mining or other surface excavation processes. Gold in ancient times, before modern, sophisticated equipment was developed, was sourced through placer mining.

In olden times, river beds were panned for gold bits, carried along with eroded rocks by the force of gushing water streams from underground water sources.

Why is gold considered a precious metal?

  • A precious metal is a rare, naturally occurring metal of high economic value due to its extremely stable nature under harsh condition, natural or man made.
  • In ancient days, gold was used by nobility and various historical artifacts have been discovered made of gold from archaeological sites. It was used as currency by early civilisations, infact it is still used in international trading. The reason being so, grading the quality of gold doesn’t change over the years.
  • It is so malleable, that a single gram can be beaten into a sheet of one square meter and further till it is semi transparent.

5 Interesting facts about gold

  1. Gold is edible. Gold dust and gold foil are used in gourmet cuisine.
  2. Our bodies contain a small percentage of gold.
  3. More gold is recoverable from a ton of personal computers than from 17 tonnes of gold ore.
  4. Nearly all the gold on earth came from meteorites that bombarded the planet millions of years ago.
  5. The world’s largest gold nugget was called ‘Welcome Stranger’. It was found in Victoria, Australia in 1869 and weighed over 71 kg of which 65 kg became refined or pure gold.