Unusual hobby: gold panning championships

Unusual hobby: gold panning championships



Average reading time — 3 minutes


Everyone has their own idea of gold and the opportunities that it gives. Some are looking for gold deposits or are mining the precious metal, while others are organizing gold panning championships. Participation in competitions is a great way to try on the role of a prospector.


How it all began

The gold panning championship originates in Finland: it was there in Tankavaara that the first competition took place in 1974. This unusual sport generated a lot of international media interest, and, by 1977, participants from 10 countries competed in the event in the Finnish village.

At first, the championships were held only in Finland, but it did not take long to reach the international level. As the sport gained momentum, representatives of the countries concerned formed the World Goldpanning Association in 1981 (World Goldpanning Association).

Today it unites national clubs and organizations from different countries, for example, the Australian Goldpanning Association inc., the Polskie Bractwo Kopaczy Złota (Poland), the Mother Lode Goldhounds Association (USA), the All Japan Goldpanning Association, the Association des Geologues Amateurs de Belgique (Belgium) and many others.


Taking ardor under control

The main goal of the organization is to form an attitude towards gold mining as an honest sport. According to the charter of the WGA, membership in the association is open to everyone, with the proviso that the exploration and gold panning should not be contrary to the law.

The organization consists of enthusiasts, not professional gold miners. These are people who do gold panning as a hobby.


Time and place

The venue of the Championship is determined by the WGA. Usually this is the area where gold was once mined. Suitable natural conditions and the atmosphere of the mines have been preserved there. For example, in 2017, the 41st Championship was held in the Scottish town of Moffat. The 43rd Championship took place in 2019 in Finnish Lapland. The 44th Championship — in the Czech Republic, in the city of Nový Knín. In 2023, the Championship will be held in South Africa, in the city of Pilgrim’s Rest.

Both individual miners and teams have the right to take part in the competition.


In the photo: the whole family can take part in the World Gold Panning Championship.


A sea of golden opportunities

The competition takes place as follows: all participants receive a container containing 15-20 kilograms of material for panning, namely a mixture of sand and pebbles. For young participants, this amount is reduced to 10-12.5 kilograms. The organizers place a certain amount of gold grains in the sand, their size must be at least a millimeter, and the sample must be at least 18 carats (a fineness of 750).

One needs to pan for gold in the old-fashioned way, collecting the mixture in the tray and sifting it, just like the prospectors in California or Alaska did in the 19th century.


In the photo: participants of the Championship need to process the gold-bearing rock in a certain time.


Only the chief judge knows how much precious metal was in the mixture. The winner is the one who completes the task the fastest and discovers the most gold.


Combining entertainment and learning

Gold panning is an entertaining activity for the whole family and everyone can take part in the World Championship. Don’t worry if you’ve never tried the yellow metal panning before: there’s a free school where everyone can learn this craft.



Read also the article:

Accessibility of gold: today and in the past