World’s best gold panners aiming to shine in Moffat – BBC News

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Image caption Competitors race against the clock to find tiny flakes of gold in sand and gravel

Top gold panners from around the world are gathering in Moffat for their world championships.

It is only the second time in its 40-year history that the event has been held in Scotland.

Competitors from more than 20 countries are expected to take part in proceedings which run until Saturday.

Organiser Richard Deighton said he hoped the championships would have a significant economic impact for businesses in the area.

The World Gold Panning Championships were first held in Finland in 1977.

They have been held every year since in the likes of the USA, Italy, Canada and Australia but the only other time they have been in the UK was also in Scotland at Leadhills in 1992.

Image caption Moffat is hosting the championships this week

There are a range of different categories in which 30 competitors at a time each receive a bucket of sand and gravel containing a few flakes of gold.

They race against the clock to find as many pieces as they can with the quickest progressing to the next round.

The winner on finals day is then crowned world champion.

‘Huge influx’

“Each competitor gets maybe 15 kilos of sand and gravel from the local area,” Mr Deighton said.

“There is a sand supervisor who will place between five and 12 pieces of gold into the sand and gravel.

“It is the competitor’s job to find it in as quick a time as possible and for each piece of gold that is lost there is a three-minute time penalty.

“So it is basically a speed competition.”

Mr Deighton said he was sure the competition would have a positive impact on the town over the next few days.

“It is an absolutely amazing event for Moffat,” he said, adding that the town was being “showcased on a world stage”.

“Just about every accommodation in Moffat is fully booked for the week,” he said.

“Local businesses are beaming, they are really happy to have this huge influx of tourists to the area.”

He said an impact study would be carried out to assess the overall economic benefits of the championships.

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