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A Modern Day Gold Rush?

Bangkok, Wed Jan 18 2017
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A waterway that has long attracted gold panners in the Bang Saphan district of Prachuap Khiri Khan Province is drawing new fortune seekers after the recent floods exposed fresh deposits of gold.

Klong Thong in Tambon Ron Thong has been a good source of income for local people, who have panned for gold there for generations. The gold found along this 5 kilometre long canal is known for its purity, and rated the best quality in the country. Unfortunately, it has become very hard to find in recent years, and many gold miners have had to seek other work. But panners suddenly discovered more gold in the bed of Klong Thong after the floodwaters receded recently.

Many people are panning gold worth 3,000 to 4,0000 baht a day. They believe it was uncovered by runoff from the Tanaosri Range following the torrential rain. The water widened sections of the waterway, exposing gold long hidden from sight.

The news has spread quickly and the place is now full of villagers trying to turn their fortunes around. Even some curious tourists have turned up and are learning how to pan for gold, in the hope that they might be in store for a bonus. Meanwhile gold traders can be seen waiting outside the site to buy the flakes and nuggets of gold from those lucky people that have found some.

Prayong Netsangsri, 43, a Ron Thong resident, said that a couple of days ago he had spent a whole day panning for gold, but found very little. Then he found some nuggets on the canal bank, and gathered up 35 hoon, which could be sold for 35,000 baht. “At first I wasn’t sure, but after I washed them they turned to be real gold. This is the most Bang Saphan gold I’ve ever found. I’m very happy,” Mr Prayong said.

A hoon is a Chinese unit of weight. Each hoon of small gold nuggets can fetch 1,000 baht, while each hoon of gold flakes is worth 800 baht and a hoon of gold dust is 600 baht.

Prayong’s good fortune followed a 39-year-old Ron Thong woman’s discovery of more than two baht weight of gold nuggets in the canal on Dec 15. A goldshop owner offered her 100,000 baht, but the woman decided to keep it for now and sell it later, when she plans to build an extension to her house. The news of her lucky find quickly spread, attracting fortune hunters and setting off a modern day gold rush.

Thanakorn Montha, a visitor from Bangkok in her twenties, said she came with friends to try her hand at panning for gold after she saw news of the Bang Saphan finds on social media. “Gold panning is not difficult, but it’s not easy either. It requires a lot of patience,” she said. “The local way of gold panning at Bang Saphan is a good thing and it should be preserved properly.”

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