Jim Letourneau's Blog

Investing, Technology, Travel, Geology, Music, Golf. I think that covers it.

Gold Panning Resurgence

I know a thing or two about gold panning. I've taken courses and attended seminars from prospectors and academics. I have a Geology degree. I was the Klondike Days daily gold panning champion. My father and I even built a "portable" sluice box that we tried out on rivers in northern Alberta.

What have I learned from all of this activity?

  1. The only way to make money gold panning is to teach classes and sell related equipment to people.

  2. The best way to get people interested in gold panning is to show them large gold nuggets, either taken from the "exact same location" 100 years ago or from a remote stretch of river in the Yukon or Brazil. I think human brains are wired to covet physical gold.

  3. Most everyone underestimates the effort required to accumulate tiny nuggets or flour gold that if you are very lucky,  can be picked up with tweezers.

CNN Money describes the gold panning experience.

Seeing some yellow in the bottom of a gold pan is very exciting. There is a sense of accomplishment after all the digging, sorting, washing etc. You can never be sure if a big nugget got missed because of sloppy panning.

Gold panning is a metaphor for the mining business.

  • It is hard work.

  • Even with the help of experts there is component of luck involved.

  • Once you get "the fever" it can be very hard to get it out of your blood.

  • Environmental rules prohibit you from doing things the "easy way".

I'm long on gold pans.