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Prospecting (Wikipedia)
Prospector and burro, western Colorado, USA, circa 1900
Schoolchildren learn to pan for gold, Denver, 1972
Rich specimen from a 2009 gold discovery by a prospector in southeastern Yukon Territory. The gold, deposited along a fracture, appears rusty-orange in this photo.

Prospecting is the first stage of the geological analysis (second – exploration) of a territory. It is the physical search for minerals, fossils, precious metals or mineral specimens, and is also known as fossicking.

Prospecting is a small-scale form of mineral exploration which is an organised, large scale effort undertaken by commercial mineral companies to find commercially viable ore deposits.

Prospecting is physical labour, involving traversing (traditionally on foot or on horseback), panning, sifting and outcrop investigation, looking for signs of mineralisation. In some areas a prospector must also make claims, meaning they must erect posts with the appropriate placards on all four corners of a desired land they wish to prospect and register this claim before they may take samples. In other areas publicly held lands are open to prospecting without staking a mining claim.

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