Following a year-long drought, local men in the Aegean province of Denizli have started hunting gold again in stream beds full of mud brought by floods, making a living by finding pieces of gold every week.
Gold hunters, who do this as an extra job, melt the gold they find in the western province of İzmir and sell it to goldsmiths.
According to a report by İhlas News Agency, gold hunters in Denizli were left empty-handed in 2021 as waters in stream beds across the province ebbed due to drought. However, thanks to heavy precipitation, stream beds were full, once again, whetting gold hunters’ appetite.
Despite freezing cold temperatures,local men bumble along stream beds with pans trying to find pieces of gold.
“This is a passion for me,” said İbrahim Irgatçı, who has been “in the business” for three years. “Last year was a disaster. We could not earn anything. But now, we have a run for our money,” he added.
When asked about the amount of gold they find beneath the mud, Irgatçı said, “We find around 7 or 8 grams of gold a week.”
Everybody collects the gold piece, and at the end of the month, a “representative” delivers them all to the Goldsmith Bazaar in İzmir.
“Officials in the bazaar determine the carat of the pieces and assess the value accordingly,” Irgatçı expressed, adding they sometimes weigh 21 and sometimes 22 carats or more usually.
He noted that until now they have only been able to find and sell 23 carats of gold as the most valuable piece. “Unfortunately, we have not found a 24-carat piece,” he expressed.
Şenol Akkuş is another local gold hunter working with Irgatçı in the freezing weather.
“I am a stonemason. I do this as a hobby,” he said. However, he is thankful for his hobby as it brings them a “pretty good” earning. “I find 5 to 6 grams weekly on average. But there are weeks I reach 10 grams. We can line our pocket,” he said.
In any case, it is a “mining business with cheap investment.” Irgatçı highlighted that all a gold hunter needs are a gold pan, a shovel, a spud, a sieve and boots.
Treasure hunting in Turkey can only be done with the permission of local authorities affiliated with the country’s Culture and Tourism Ministry. One has to inform authorities of the exact coordinates to search gold, silver, or any other mine.
People disobeying the law may face a jail term of up to three years.