It has commonly been stated that all the creeks and rivers in British Columbia that contained gold have already been discovered. Any values that were promising were worked, probably many times, since their discovery leaving very little for the prospector today. While their is some truth to this statement, it is obvious from the present high level of placer mining in the province, that the gravels of our creeks and rivers have not been worked completely or systematically.
The rising price of gold and improvements in technology are making it possible to work ground that was once deemed to be uneconomical or too hard to work in the past.
Several other factors may also contribute to gold being left behind by previous miners:
1.) Greed – The old-timers were often depicted as being greedy, working only the best pay streaks and leaving behind the poorer ground. The cost for basic necessities and for food in some of those older mining camps, made them seek out only the richest placers.
2.) Lack of Knowledge – Lack of proper placer geology was common in the old days, and surprisingly, a lack of basic knowledge continues on even today with many placer miners.
3.) Lack of Interest In Fine Gold – It was widely accepted that fine gold only represented a very small part of the total value of a gold deposit and was not worth worrying about. It is worthy to note that as much as 50% or more of a placer deposit may be fine gold. Do not make the same mistake as the old-timers did!
4.) Lack of Equipment – Equipment to move the heavy overburden or large boulders was not available. Modern high-bankers, gas water pumps, and metal detectors were unheard of.
5.) Water Problems – The old miners lacked the knowledge and equipment to work below the water table. In addition, getting water to higher benches posed another huge obstacle.
In order for the old-timers to offset all these factors, they generally had a lack of concern for regulations or environmental concerns. Labour was cheap, and many placers were very thoroughly, especially by the Chinese.
Past human activity made gold values very unpredictable, since very little in the way of records or maps were kept. It becomes vital to sample placer deposits properly in order to ensure success. If the gravels are clean, with little or no clay or silt, it is almost certain that they have been worked previously.