Gold mining initiation session

Jumilhac le Grand
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Gold mining initiatio ...

The Tourist Office in Jumilhac-le-Grand organises a gold mining initiation session every Monday morning (9am-12.30pm), and on Tuesday and Friday afternoons (2pm-5.30pm), in Charlard (situated at 10 kilometres from Jumilhac-le-Grand, in Haute-Vienne). We recommend to book in advance with the Tourist Office, groups of up to 20 people are also welcome. All children must be accompanied and supervised by an adult ; there is a concession for family ticket. My initiation session was organised by the Communauté de commune de Jumilhac-le-Grand and the Conseil Départemental de la Dordogne as part as the programme "été actif" (“Active Summer”). This initiation course lasted two hours and took place at the foot of the castle, on the banks of the Isle River.

I have my flip-flops (and my boots) and I am waiting for Philippe who is going to give me some great tips to find gold. The introduction starts with an explanation on the geologic formation of the soils and gold deposits of the region. This man knows about gold inside out, I am with a passionate professional who wants to enhance the local heritage through an unusual hobby.

I learn that the history of gold started 300 millions years ago, Philippe passes few minerals amongst the group. He then talks about the history of the Gallic and the gold mines from the Antiquity up to now. To illustrate his point, we can see some photos. He makes me guess the metal extraction techniques of our ancestors, which were working pretty well since they extracted several tons. He makes us participate during his talk with questions, I do not always get the answers... How many cubic metres are two tons of gold ? How many bottles of water are equivalent to 1 kilogramme of gold ?

Philippe brings out a bar of gold bullion from his pocket, or rather a replica, so I can see its shape and especially its legendary weight ;) The replica only weighs 500 grammes but I can still feel the heaviness of this precious object. Gold is unalterable and stainless ; it is a very solid metal ! With one gramme, it is possible to make… 1 kilometre of thread ! Unbelievable !! Now I know the properties of gold and its use.

I also learn that gold is a very good insulator, it can become transparent. It can be found a bit everywhere, even of the helmets of firefighters ! Note this point on gold mining legislation : everybody can look for gold if they respect private property and the rights of the owners. The €8,000 fine makes you think ! It must remain a leisure hobby with small equipment. Philippe is really picky when it comes to respecting the environment : nature gives us something, and we need to look after nature in return. His courses are therefore weighted to understanding our environment, discovering what the river and the land bring us while respecting them ! It is very important and this has been my view from quite sometime now.

This is followed by the tips to find gold : where and how ! You just need to take a map and look closely at the toponyms : AUR, AU, OR are indicators of deposits (Périgord, Dordogne, Cognac etc…). If I follow this principle my Christian name Auriane is worth gold ;)

Once the technical and educational explanations are finished, it is time for the practical sessions to start. Sieve, pans and spades are waiting for me. Philippe loans us shoes to get into the water if you need. I feel like I am in a remake of the Far West : Once upon a time in the southwest ! Philippe shows me the first technique through a demonstration. The objective is, that at the end, I leave with my small flecks of gold flask that I found by myself, or maybe more ! I dig the earth, put everything in the sieve and I retrieve the sand that I shake with water to separate the heaviest and the lightest parts. The technique is not that easy and practice is needed. Once my sand is well reduced, I go back to see Philippe and his eagle eye : few gold of flecks are at the bottom, he retrieves them for me and put them in my flask. My colleagues and myself are not always that lucky but we must go on. The river has other surprises such as the garnet which is a semi-precious stone !

The two hours initiation went by very quickly. I learn while having fun. The feet in the water, I am very attentive and I cherish a bit the sand of the river. Whatever our age, we have stars in our eyes and especially the great hope to find something. Who has never dreamt of being a gold digger one day ?? Philippe knows how to communicate his passion ; with his words and gestures he is transferring a slowly disappearing heritage.

It is time to tidy up the equipment now. Philippe shows me several flasks full of gold and silver leaves, he also sales few minerals and earrings. They are really nice. The minerals are €5, the flasks and the small earrings €2. It is another way of bringing back a different souvenir than our gold flakes.

I really loved this initiation. It is at times educational and fun and in a healthy environment. The view on the Jumilhac-le-Grand Castle is really pleasant. I was accompanied from the beginning to the end by a real passionate. There is a very friendly and family atmosphere, we chat to our neighbour, we all gather around the gold pans to see the gold flakes ! It is a rewarding activity on every level (no pun intended !).

Good luck to all the budding gold diggers !

Initiation à lorpaillage

Initiation à lorpaillage
Initiation à lorpaillage
Initiation à lorpaillage
Initiation à lorpaillage
Initiation à lorpaillage
Initiation à lorpaillage
Initiation à lorpaillage


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