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Native Gold







Native gold is widely distributed in nature but in very small quantities. It is the main source of gold. Gold is very ductile as well as an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. It is resistant to corrosion and most normal acids but can be dissolved by aqua regia. It does not oxidize and does not easily lose its luster either so it is widely used for currency, jewelry and electro-plating.

Native gold often contains some silver and occasionally small traces of other metals such as copper, bismuth, tin and zinc. Native gold mainly occurs in quartz veins but some concentrations are also found in quartz andesite, granite, sandstone or conglomerates. It is often found with other mineral such as pyrite, stibnite, limonite, arsenopyrite, galena and sphalarite. Native gold has a high specific gravity and is chemically stable so it often accumulates to form placer deposits after weathering and transportation. In Taiwan, Native gold is mainly found around Jioufen and Jinguashih as well as the Central Range. Jinguashih was once the most productive gold mine in the Far East and one of the key gold mining districts in the world. 

Mineral Formation
Mainly found in gold-bearing quartz veins of hydrothermal origin. If formed within middle-to-high-temperature gold-bearing quartz veins, it is often accompanied by minerals such as pyrite and arsenopyrite. If formed within low-temperature hydrothermal veins, companion minerals are usually pyrite, galena and sphalarite.

Native gold has a high specific gravity and is chemically stable so it often accumulates to form placer deposits after weathering and transportation. 
Geographic Distribution
(1) In Jinguashih within gold-silver-copper fracture filling and replacement deposits. 
(2) In Rueifang and Wudankeng within gold-silver-copper fracture filling veins.
(3) In gold-bearing quartz veins located in the Central Range at Nanhudashan, Central Jianshan, Hehuanshan, Pingfongshan, Nengaoshan and Yushan.
(4) In the hydrothermal deposits at Cimei, Jhangyuan and Chenggong along the Coastal Range.
(5) In placer deposits on the Keelung River as well as eastern waterways such as Liwu River, Hualien River, Siouguluan River and Binan River.
Mining History
The Portuguese discovered gold on Taiwan's east coast around the 1500. A river on the east coast was referred to as the Rio Duero, meaning "River of Gold". The Spanish and the Dutch all mined gold in Taiwan until Koxinga's conquest of Taiwan. Koxinga did not continue gold mining operations in Taiwan.

In 1891 a laborer discovered placer gold under Badu Bridge on Keelung River during the construction of the Taipei-Keelung railway by provincial magistrate Liu Ming-chuan. The discovery sparked a gold rush along the Keelung River. In 1892 the Manchu government set up the "Bureau of Gold Mines" at Keelung to collect a tax on privately found gold and regulate the mining of placer gold. The Jioufen-Jingua ore body was discovered in 1894. After the First Sino-Japanese War the Japanese established the "Gold Mining Bureau" and required gold prospectors to pay a licensing fee. In 1897 the Japanese Government issued the "Regulations for the Taiwanese Mining Industry" dividing the mining region into the western "Rueifang Mining District" (now the Jioufen mining district) and the "Jinguashih Mining District" in the east. The "Wudankeng Mining District" was discovered in 1898 so at one point there were three gold mines.
Enargite was discovered in the Jinguashih mining district in 1905 so copper mining operations were set up. Gold and copper were therefore both mined in Jinguashih so mining became even more extensive. The Wudankeng mining district was formally merged into the Jinguashih mining district in 1913. After the liberation, mining at Jinguashih was overseen by the "Taiwan Gold & Copper Mining Administration" then later by The "Taiwan Metal Mining Company" when it was officially established in 1955. Later on, fewer gold ore bodies were found leading to a drop in production. Copper production on the other hand increased, making Taiwan Metal the largest copper mining company in Taiwan. A decline in international gold and copper prices eventually led to Taiwan Metal closing its doors in 1987.

In the Rueifang mining district, Yan Yun-nian consolidated all of the mining rights and set up the "Taiyang Mining Company" to mine the gold ore around Rueifang and Jioufen. Taiyang company was restructured in 1947 and gold mining eventually ended in 1971.

During the Japanese colonial period a number of surveys were carried out to find gold ore on Taiwan's east coast and in the Central Range. These included 橫堀治三郎's 8 surveys of eastern Taiwan and Mitsuo Ogasawara's survey of the Liwu river area. Gold veins were found and mined after the liberation and the Veterans' Mining Industry Development Bureau of the Veteran Affairs Commission mined gold around the Liwu River area as well. However the steep terrain in the Central Range made mining difficult and most of the gold-rich regions were incorporated into national parks. For example, Pingfongshan is a part of the Taroko National Park; "Baiyang Gold Mine" and "Central Gold Mine" were the two main mining districts in Yushan and these are now part of the Yushan National Park. As a result, no gold has been mined for the last twenty years or so.

Gold production in Taiwan reached its peak in 1938. At the time, the Jinguashih mining district produced 2,603,725 kg of gold in one year while the Rueifang mining district produced 1,700,313 kg in one year. 
Native gold is the main source of gold. Gold is mainly used for decoration and in the electrical appliances industry. Gold is also used as an indicator of currency value in the international markets.

National Museum of Natural Science