Sunday, September 9, 2012



All gold mining in Belize is placer mining.  Working the rivers, creeks and gravel beds and other sediments in the southern Belize Alps Maya mountain chain.  Gold mining is done with a 4 inch portable dredge and a lot of people simply use the old method of a sluice box, or frying pan method.

  Two brothers, George and Alberto Boiton, from Santa Elena Town have been gold mining back there, since 1990.  Some Canadians also, and there are reported upward of 300 illegal Guatemalan families, wives and children working the creeks in the area.  Strangely enough, nobody from the port of Belize City, that has a lot of unemployment, has bothered to go there and mine gold.  They cry a lot for government aid and welfare, but real work, sluicing sand and gravel with a frying pan seems not to be attractive to them.  The gold runs off from the Ceibo Chico water drainage system.

  In the last 15 years the government has been issuing licenses to go back there and pan gold.  The Boiton brothers have been reported in the media, to have taken out BZ 7.5 million dollars in the last six years.  Of course, buyers on site, selling food and other supplies will only give you about half the world value of gold.  The retail quotes and assessments are considerably higher.  In 8 years the Boiton brothers reported, taking out 2,300 ounces of gold.

  The government of Belize is trying to formalize the gold prospecting and require a license and Enviromental Impact Assessment.  More organized operations are expected to write an Environmental Assessment plan.  There is no government presence in the area and no police.  Nor, is there any way to enforce any laws, or licenses.  Guatemala campesinos routinely pan for gold in the area and there is sometime banditry by armed Guatemalans.  In Belize, you need a license to carry a gun, but since there are no police or enforcement authorities, that is a moot point.  Every few months the Belize Defence Force do a patrol around in that area.  They catch a few people and take them to court in San Ignacio town and deport them back to Guatemala.

  When you pan for placer gold, you attempt by swirling your pan, to concentrate the heavier gold sand dust, or nuggets from gravel and black sand.  Eventually if you use a sluice box and running water with a riffle board, you eventually have to mix liquid mercury which sticks only to gold.  Thus you seperate the gold fine flakes and dust from other particles like black sand.  Then you use a small retort bunsen burner to vaporize the mercury to a gas, leaving only gold.  Mercury is dangerous and the heating vaporizing has to be done with the wind blowing the fumes and smoke away from you.  Or you can die from the toxicity of the mercury smoke.


Zack Mckenzie said...

You do not have to use mercury to get the gold from the concentrates. There are several other ways to collect it; including blue bowls, spiral wheels, shaker boxes, and others. There is no need for mercury.

Jason DeLuisa said...

Yea, that is true but it is hard to convince someone of that when you can buy a 15 lb bottle of mercury in Belize City for less than 20 bucks, when in the US (if you can even find it), mercury costs $100 a pound and that's before they tack on hazardous shipping fees. Most of the people mining there are using crude implements to collect just enough gold to scrape out a living. Mercury can be used safely, (I refine precious metals and have some in my lab for certain circumstances) but unfortunately, most of the people involved in artinsanal mining in third world countries can't afford a blue bowl, sluice box, or even a commercially made plastic gold pan, but they can afford a little mercury - keep in mind a miller table (not a shaker table) costs as much as some of those people make all year. They are not educated and do not have access to the tools we take for granted, and sadly they do not use mercury safely. I was out there this week and there are some very poor people living in that part of the country.

Kakooza Ismail said...

Am gold miner and seller from east and central Africa . Am visting Belize in a few days . Am seeking any buyers of gold in large quantity in Belize may be they can give me orders prior to my trip . My mail

Unknown said...

Is it fairly safe to be in that aera

Stephen Crandell Sr said...

Is it fairly safe to be in that aera