All gold mining in Belize is placer mining. Working the rivers, creeks and gravel beds and other sediments in the southern Belize Alps Maya mountain chain. Gold mining is done with a 4 inch portable dredge and a lot of people simply use the old method of a sluice box, or frying pan method.
Two brothers, George and Alberto Boiton, from Santa Elena Town have been gold mining back there, since 1990. Some Canadians also, and there are reported upward of 300 illegal Guatemalan families, wives and children working the creeks in the area. Strangely enough, nobody from the port of Belize City, that has a lot of unemployment, has bothered to go there and mine gold. They cry a lot for government aid and welfare, but real work, sluicing sand and gravel with a frying pan seems not to be attractive to them. The gold runs off from the Ceibo Chico water drainage system.
In the last 15 years the government has been issuing licenses to go back there and pan gold. The Boiton brothers have been reported in the media, to have taken out BZ 7.5 million dollars in the last six years. Of course, buyers on site, selling food and other supplies will only give you about half the world value of gold. The retail quotes and assessments are considerably higher. In 8 years the Boiton brothers reported, taking out 2,300 ounces of gold.
The government of Belize is trying to formalize the gold prospecting and require a license and Enviromental Impact Assessment. More organized operations are expected to write an Environmental Assessment plan. There is no government presence in the area and no police. Nor, is there any way to enforce any laws, or licenses. Guatemala campesinos routinely pan for gold in the area and there is sometime banditry by armed Guatemalans. In Belize, you need a license to carry a gun, but since there are no police or enforcement authorities, that is a moot point. Every few months the Belize Defence Force do a patrol around in that area. They catch a few people and take them to court in San Ignacio town and deport them back to Guatemala.
When you pan for placer gold, you attempt by swirling your pan, to concentrate the heavier gold sand dust, or nuggets from gravel and black sand. Eventually if you use a sluice box and running water with a riffle board, you eventually have to mix liquid mercury which sticks only to gold. Thus you seperate the gold fine flakes and dust from other particles like black sand. Then you use a small retort bunsen burner to vaporize the mercury to a gas, leaving only gold. Mercury is dangerous and the heating vaporizing has to be done with the wind blowing the fumes and smoke away from you. Or you can die from the toxicity of the mercury smoke.