The South African Gold Panning Association (SAGPA) is the representative body for competitive gold panning in South Africa. Our headquarters are in the historical town of Pilgrim’s Rest in the province of Mpumalanga.
SAGPA was established in 1997 to promote competitive gold panning as a heritage related activity and sport for the whole family. In the same year a small team attended the World Gold Panning Championships and also joined the World Gold Panning Association (WGA) to become its 20th member country.
SAGPA is a formal organisation with elected office bearers and a number of affiliated clubs in different parts of the country. In all events and activities the Association works in partnership with the Mpumalanga Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation.
Vice - Chairperson
SAGPA is committed to growing the heritage sport of competitive gold panning throughout South Africa.
The first annual SA Gold Panning Championships were held in December 1997 with the support of Pilgrim’s Rest Museum and the Mpumalanga Department of Culture, Sport and Recreation. Since then the Association has held SA National Gold Panning Championships every year, with an ever growing numbers of participants.
SAGPA Member and Current President of the WGA
From 1997, SAGPA contingents have also participated in every annual World Gold Panning Championship – except in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19.
Where possible, winners in different categories of the national championships are sponsored to compete at the international championships the following year. Quite a few of our members have been on the podium overseas, being awarded gold, silver or bronze medals.
World Gold Panning Championships are held in different countries across the world. SAGPA hosted these championships in 2005 and 2012, and will host them again in 2023 – the year which marks the 150th anniversary of the discovery of gold in Pilgrim’s Rest.
Besides the annual SA National Gold Panning Championships, SAGPA encourages gold panning enthusiasts to form clubs in different parts of the country. These clubs arrange competitions and training throughout the year. SAGPA also arranges outreach activities to introduce competitive gold panning across of the country.
Participants in a gold panning competition use the same equipment and techniques as those used by early prospectors. The difference is that it is not a matter of trying to find random gold in sandbanks and rivers – which, by the way, is an illegal activity in South Africa.
At the start of an event each competitor gets a bucket of sand in which a specific number of gold pieces, unknown to the participants, have been seeded. The gold is then panned out in panning dams and the winner is the competitor who pans out the most gold in the shortest time.
Follow this link to learn more about how competitive gold panning works.
Anyone who is enthusiastic about gold panning – even a complete beginner – can join SAGPA. The Association provides for individual, family and junior membership.
Benefits of membership include a 50% discount on the entry fees for all official categories at the national gold panning championships and only members qualify for any sponsorships to compete in international gold panning championships.
If you are interested in joining SAGPA you can find details and a membership form here:
Please complete and submit your details below to download the membership form