Its funny yuou ask, Im on a gold mining project in the SOuth Carolina Slate Belt right now. We are doing crushing and Au/Hg amalgamation. The gold is tiny flecks in the quartz that lies within slate. The mercury and gold amalgamate and then the Au is driven out by heat and the mercury is recollected and the gold is further processed. We get about 5 oz perton of rock. (Thats pretty rich by todays standards)
Ive done panning with my uncle Stash in NM and Az when I was a kid. Ive also panned on the AMerican River near Folsom and have panned in Lancaster county Pa and near Spruce Pine NC.
It takes just a little practice to learn how to handle a gold pan. You should start with a few tiny pieces of gold in a sand mix and swizzle it around and try to remove the sand in a water mix but still keep the gold pieces in the bottom of the pan. Youll never learn unless you know that theres some gold in the pan. That way you develop a "touch". Its not hard. Just dont screw up the streams with water blowers or a backhoe. Guys that trash up a stream for gold panning are a bunch of pigs. .