It never had been worth it panning moss - I only ever did it when the moss grew in crevices and of course other plant roots as well and the pickings were just fine gold - its ok on a desperation day when nothing else was turning up.
When I burnt the matting at the end of the seasons work I sometimes got a gram or two of very fine gold but where I worked fine gold was rare gold - it was virtually all nuggets.
The only place I purposely worked moss was near Tobins track in the 1960s as a kid on the advice of an old miner. It was only very fine colours but back then enough to keep a ten year old happy.
A sluice box in the bed of the stream was better. In one stream I used a cradle and that was thirty years ago - I never cleaned out the mat properly and noted in passing that it is all still where I left it and the mat has rotted away so maybe theres a colour or two on the bottom of the remains of the box.
About five years ago I was looking at the bottom of another of our old dredges last used inthe 1980s I noticed that the mat had long rotted away so I panned the dirt, douglas fir needles and everything else that had accumulated and got maybe100 colours.
My cobber henry who got the nine ounce nugget in the Arrow also swept the concrete where we park our vehicles at a spot we went to many times and panned it for lack of anything else to do on that particular day and found a few nuggets that we had dropped.
Back then I guess we were somewhat compacent.
I did learn an interesting lesson in the 1970s when I took the dredge sluice box and tipped the gravel into a bucket to pan the contents then put the dredge sluice box into the cab of my Landrover, one end on the floor and the other end up against the back window then drove home to finish the job of cleaning it. I took the sluice box out and panned it at home and cannot recall how much I got but I then drove to Waimate. The next weekend at Waimate I saw a nice nugget on the floor of my Landrover and when I realised what it was and had a closer look there were MANY more. Now the Landrover floor just sat there and was not screwed down so if anyone ever finds gold nuggets beside the main road between Mosgiel and Waimate then I claim them! In any case I divided the gold into six small bottles to give away to kids. I know that one kid dropped his and the gold went down the drain along side the footpath but a few years ago a girl told me how excited she was when I gave her a bottle with gold in it…that was mid 1970s…now I had forgotten all about this and said “Did I?” - she said that I had and I asked to see it. Sure enough it was in one of the DSIR specimen bottles I used to give away gold in and there was a full two penny weight - 3 grams. That means that I must have cleaned up about 18 grams off the floor of my Landrover and given it away!
Back then I did give a lot away because I got a lot - nowdays the only gold I get is chocolate wrappers! It was fun while it lasted.
To this day I know a place!
As for the moss - forget it. Go for the small crevices and cracks in the bedrock. I had heard that many years ago the old times used moss in the bottom of their tail races at places like Maerowhenua. At the end of the year however if you use coir matting or carpet then by all means burn and pan it and if you are in an area where there is a lot of fine gold then you will have a happy bonus.