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Author Topic: Beware of Mica...
kevgo
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Post Beware of Mica...
on: June 1, 2011, 12:23
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I was recently out with the sluice on a small nearby stream, when it came time to start panning the concentrates it looked at first glance like I hit the motherloade. Too good to be true? Or course.. it was.

Small flakes of yellow mica have an amazing ability to look like gold but upon closer inspection it's easy to tell that you'll still be eating KD when you get home that night. Some things to remember include;

- Mica gets its colour from reflected light and will lose its colour as you tilt your pan. So if it looks really shiny in one orientation tilt the pan away and see if it loses its colour. Gold will maintain its colour when you tilt the pan.

- Mica is much more abundant and much lighter (5 times) than gold, expect to find it first. Most of the mica will be sloughed off during the panning process, but some will still linger. It's easily stirred up from the resulting material, and just plain looks and feels 'light'.

- Mica is brittle, and not malleable like gold. If you poke it a sharp point it can bend, but will break apart into smaller flakes. Gold is very malleable and will spread out like lead.

- If you look along the shore line before panning mica often forms a thin yellow line on the inside edge of the water line. If you see this you'll know to expect some problems with mica.

- Bring along a pocket magnifier to help you identify the stuff. I would also recommend getting a real gold sample to practice panning with. Once you have seen the real thing it's much easier to identify the impostors.

Here's a video showing some mica in a pan. In my opinion it's an extreme example, in these parts I haven't seen it as abundant nor would panning produce this much as most would be discarded during the process.

kevgo

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