Gold panning in Gwynedd river investigated by police

Afon Wen river Image copyright Geograph/Alan Fryer
Image caption People have been gold panning in the Afon Wen river

Gold panning in a Gwynedd river is being investigated by police.

Officers are trying to establish if the practice by people in the Afon Wen near Dolgellau is illegal as they could damage rivers protected by the law.

Panning in rivers is one of the simplest ways to extract gold, although volumes are usually small.

North Wales Police is looking into whether the practice is illegal as rivers and wildlife are protected by law from anything that damages them.

Image copyright Rogers Jones Co
Image caption Nuggets and flakes of Welsh gold can sell for thousands of pounds at auction

Det Con Eryl Lloyd said the force is investigating the "legality of gold panning activity" in the river, which is managed by National Resources Wales.

"Our aim is always to work with others to protect the environment. However, if this is not possible we will take legal action," he said.

Welsh gold is highly sought-after with a nugget weighing 3g (0.1oz) from Clogau's Bontddu mine, also near Dolgellau, selling for £4,000 at auction last year.

It has been used in the wedding rings of members of the Royal Family since 1923 when the Queen Mother, then Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, married the Duke of York.

Other members of the royal family to have Welsh gold in their wedding rings include the Queen and Prince Phillip, Prince Charles in both his marriages and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

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