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Blacksanding
It's as West Coast as whitebaiting. Blacksanding is a low cost and low impact way to get into the gold business. The appropriate licence, a bit of gear, and a dollop of practical and mechanical knowledge and you are pretty much on your way.

Each set up varies from operator to operator, but at its most simple the principle is much the same: use a pump to suck up water, shovel some black sand onto a screen, jet the water over the sand and direct the flow over a felt riffle mat, then see what comes out at the end of the day.

So how does gold end up on West Coast beaches? Thousands of years of glacial and river runoff have transported the gold from the mountains to the daily changing coastal inter-tidal areas. Tide, current and local wave action then deposit it in discreet sections along the beach. The trick is to know which piece of beach and when to go blacksanding, the beach changes every tide.
The traditional hei-tiki
The traditional hei-tiki
It's not quite every man and his dog, but blacksanding is an integral part of West Coast life for some. Described as a 'recreational' rather than a financial activity, blacksanding requires little gear and has a very low environmental impact. The next tide wipes away all trace of the day's activity, and might even bring in the next deposit. You need a licence to go blacksanding, so don't just turn up on the beach with your megapump, you'll most likely be on someone's patch.
Black Sanding

Above Picture: Colour in the pan. If you know where to look, just a single shovel of West Coast black beach sand can produce results.
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