Gold resists corrosion, is malleable, and is the world’s most reliable and durable electrical conductor. This makes gold one of the key, low-carbon-technology metals, and New Zealand has abundant resources of it.
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In travelling down rivers from the mountains to the sea, gold particles become progressively smaller and more flattened. These smaller and flatter gold particles are more challenging for miners in valleys and on beaches to capture. They are also a research challenge for the NZIMMR, to solve the problem of capturing these problematic gold grains, many of which remain in suspension in recovery plants and are lost to the tails.
Gold is mostly thought of as beautifying jewellery or as gold bars in a bank vault.
It is also a widely-used technology metal. Uses range from electronics, including printed circuits, in GPS technology, medical diagnostics, as industrial catalysts, and as a ruby red pigment in glass manufacture.
In any gold-bearing alluvial gravel, the grade of gold varies through a vertical section. In practice, the gold miner looks for and follows a layer or layers carrying higher gold grades. These gold-bearing layers and the sequence they are in also carry signals that allow geologists to build predictive models of gold deposition in space and time.
A tried and tested model can help gold miners in following the right layers and finding them elsewhere as they work through their permitted ground.