Community News

Gold Panners on their way to world champs in Finland

Frieda Paton

A team South African of gold panners will be competing in the 2019 World Gold Panning Championships at the Tankavaara Gold Village in Finland during August 5-10TH. A team briefing and final practice were held at the gold panning site in Pilgrim’s Rest on July 20th.

“From  August 3-4 we’ll also be competing in the Finnish Open Championships, so people will get a chance to feel the gold and the sand – settle down and acclimatize a bit before the actual world champs start,” said Sherry Goodwin, Chairperson of the South African Gold Panning Association. “We have a very strong team competing this year, with panners making excellent times in the practices.”

The South African team consists of 36 gold panners of whom 18 were sponsored by the Mpumalanga Department of Sports, Culture and Recreation (DSCR).  Included in the other 18 are Lindiwe Ntshalintshali, MEC for the DCSR.

In her policy and budget speech this year Ntshalintshali announced that there would be an in-principle bid to once again host the World Gold Panning Championships in Pilgrim’s Rest. This will be done at this year’s Annual General Meeting of the World Gold Panning Association on August 8th.

Tankavaara Gold Village hosted the first-ever World Gold Panning Championships in 1977.  Fittingly, the competition is returning there as they celebrate the 150th anniversary of the gold rush in Lapland.

Tankavaara, situated in Finnish Lapland, originated as a gold mining village and currently houses a unique international museum of gold history. From Tankavaara visitors can easily visit the area referred to as Sompio, where they can experience the natural beauty of Lapland’s vast wilderness and forests.

This year the SA National Gold Panning Championships will take place in Pilgrim’s Rest during September 25th– 28th.  There are beginner’s classes so anyone can participate even though they have never panned before.

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