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Gold in Maine
Gold occurs in several geologic environments in Maine: in bedrock, in sediments that were eroded from bedrock by glaciers, and in stream deposits derived from either of these sources. Veins of gold in bedrock are called "lode" deposits, and "placer" deposits are concentrations of gold that accumulated in unconsolidated sediments. Most of the gold presently found in Maine comes from placer deposits in stream beds.
With the exception of areas administered by the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission (see below), gold panning activities in Maine do not require a permit as long as the following restrictions are adhered to:
Gold mining activities that would disturb stream banks or utilize larger equipment than what is described above require a permit under the Natural Resources Protection Act even on private property. If you have any questions about gold-mining regulations, or the use of a suction dredge, please contact the Division of Land Resource Regulation, Bureau of Land and Water Quality, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, State House Station #17, Augusta, ME 04333 (207-287-3901). In addition, commercial prospecting or mining on State property requires prior authorization (contact the Maine Geological Survey for details).
Maine has restrictions on the sale and uses of elemental mercury. Before undertaking processes that require the use of mercury, please contact the Maine Department of Environmental Protection at (207)287-2651.
Much of northern and eastern Maine, including the unorganized townships, is under the jurisdiction of a State agency called the Maine Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) . The regulations for gold prospecting in these areas are somewhat different than in the rest of Maine, chiefly in regard to motorized recreational prospecting. LURC has standards for motorized gold prospecting, and if the activity is done according to these standards, a permit is not required. Proposed motorized prospecting not in accordance with the standards requires a permit. The standards also list certain areas that are closed to motorized prospecting. All non-motorized prospecting may be done without a permit. The standards for motorized recreational gold prospecting, which includes the list of restricted stream segments, can be found in Chapter 10 of the Commission's Rules and Standards (Sub-Chapter III: Land Use Standards, section 10.27G) or from the local LURC Office.
SOURCES OF GOLD INFORMATION
Information on gold localities and methods of prospecting may be found in the following books or obtained from other references in libraries and bookstores. There are no active gold mines in the state at the present time, but some old gold mines are listed in a two-volume series entitled "Maine Mines and Minerals", by Philip Morrill and William Hinckley, which may be available in Maine mineral shops or local libraries.
GOLD PROSPECTING CLUB
GOLD PANNING EQUIPMENT AND ADVICE
GOLD PANNING STREAMS
Some streams from which gold has been reported are listed below, and there are probably many others that are less well known.
Topographic maps covering these areas may be purchased from local sporting goods stores and bookstores or from the Maine Geological Survey, 93 State House Station, Augusta, Maine 04333. Telephone: (207) 287-2801.
Last updated on September 24, 2012
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