Gold Mining at Pandalur
End of 18th Century The lost dynasty killed the hopes of may English mining companies but the wound and scars they left over the land helps many locals to find their way to a better life,in these days a big number of locals are working in the abundant mines for their daily bread but such mining is prohibited by central and state laws. More than 1500 people are working in various mines in and around Pandalur. Unemployment, low wages in the estates labor and the uncertainty in the agricultural industries attracted the locals to the gold mining field. They have to work very hard from morning to evening to get few grains of gold, most of them uses common tools and working in a very vulnerable environment with out any safety precautions, as per the locals many incidents happened inside the mines which cause major injuries even death but none of the incidents are reported to protect their interest or to escape from the legal complications.
Panning for gold is the common method used by the locals for their gold hunt, First the gold diggers collect the auriferous ore from the mines and crush them manually to fine particles by hammering but some of the flour mills have special setup for crushing the ore illegally, Enough quantity of the powdered ore is put in to a special wooden pan called "Gold Pan", holding and submerse the pan in the stream running out of the mines (most of the mines have good water stream which is enough to carryout the panning process) and move the pan in slow circular motion so that the lighter materials will be carried out of the gold pan and only the heavy elements sediments in the bottom of the pan, this process is done until all the particles such as mud , sand are washed out from the pan and only the heavy materials deposited in the bottom of the pan , then the mercury is rubbed with the sediment and the mercury trap all the gold particles from the pan resulting a gold mercury amalgam, From the amalgam they extract the gold by the help of local goldsmiths, some of the diggers expertise in separating the gold from the amalgam. One gram of pure gold (locally called Sokkathangam) can sold up to 600 Rupees. The environmental impact of excessive usage of mercury, causalities in the mine , the hidden danger from the abundant mines and sinkholes are a big threat to the environment and human life but it's a blessing for a big number of families depending on this adventure filed.
Pic1: Gold Pan Pic2: Collapsed Mine Pic3: Busy worker panning for gold
Gold digger coming out of the mine with the ore
Entrance of a Gold Mind at Glenrock Estate Pandalur