Gold: Traditionally gold was mined in areas near the Danube, in the Central Alps between the Drau/Drava and Salzach rivers and in the Lavant and Ziller valleys. The Celts are considered to have been the first to search for gold in Carinthia (Doellach in the Moelltal valley) in the 1st century B.C. During the High Middle Ages gold washing was practised in the rivers and streams of the province of Salzburg (e.g. Salzach, Tauern streams). First documented mention of gold panning on the Salzach river (near Lichtwunder, Pongau region) in the 8th century. Up to the 18th century sufficient quantities of gold were found in the Fritzbach stream to sustain some families. In the 13th century gold mining started in the Rauris and Gastein valleys. Peak production was achieved between 1480 and 1560 under the direction of the Weitmoser family (Christoff, d. 1558), when 2,954 marks of gold (= 830.07 kilograms) were extracted; by 1567, however, production had declined to 1321, by 1597 to 443 marks of gold, and by 1615 to as little as 92 marks. Gold was also found in the Lungau region of Salzburg province.
In Carinthia, gold was mined in the Lavant valley (1400-1700) at Kliening near the village of Sankt Leonhard in the 14th -16th centuries and gold panning in the Klieningbach stream continued until 1757. Other Carinthian regions where gold was mined were the upper Fragant area, the valley of Oberes Moelltal from the Pasterze glacier to the villages of Heiligenblut, Winklern, Grosskirchheim and Doellach and the Zirknitztal and Grosses and Kleines Fleisstal valleys. Around 1446, the Pasterze area was not covered with ice and gold was mined extensively. When the glacier advanced again in the 16th and 17th centuries, goldmining was reduced and finally stopped in the 19th century. The gold mine at the highest altitude was situated in the Guttal valley (alt. 2,900 m). Other mines: Kollnitzen near the town of Moertschach, Astental valley. The most influential mining clan in Carinthia was the Putz family. Until 1620, Melchior Putz, (who financed the construction of a castle in Grosskirchheim and died in 1583) and his sons mined gold in that region. From the 17th century gold extraction declined, the mine at Kliening was closed down in 1589, the one in Grosskirchheim in 1640. The mine in Rauris was operated by the state until 1875, subsequently by a French- Belgian company, and finally closed down in 1906. The Radhausberg mine near Badgastein was reopened in 1840, and gold was mined until about 1900. It was reopened by the Eldron trust, London, in 1937 and closed in 1938. Another, rather unsuccessful, attempt was made by Preussag company from 1941 to 1944. The tunnel driven in those years (length 2.5 km) is now used for therapeutic purposes. Since 1956, the history of gold mining in Carinthia has been documented in the museum of Grosskirchheim castle.
On the river Danube, gold was washed out of the river´s gravel at different places (near Enns, Melk, Zwentendorf, Saeusenstein, Langenlebarn, Korneuburg, Klosterneuburg and Mannswoerth). It is estimated that the amount of gold that gold panners washed out of the gravel up to the mid-19th century was no more than 20 kg. However, the abbeys of Klosterneuburg and Melk own chalices made out of Danube gold.
Gold jewellery sold in Austria has to have at least 14 karat fineness and bear a hallmark stating the fineness. Since 1991, private individuals have been allowed to purchase gold ingots. In 1994 the Oesterreichische Nationalbank owned 34.08 billion ATS worth of gold (valued at ATS 60,000 per kilogram).
Literature#F. Gruber and K. H. Ludwig, Salzburger Bergbaugeschichte, 1982; G. Ammerer, Die Entwicklung des Goldbergbaues im Rauriser Tal in Salzburg, in: Der Anschnitt 34, 1982; F. Florentin, Die letzte Betriebsperiode des Gasteiner und Rauriser Goldbergbaues 1938-45, Gasteiner Badeblatt, magazine 1953; F. Gruber, Altboeckstein und die juengere Geschichte der Tauerngoldproduktion, Boecksteiner Montana 1, Leoben 1979; H. Wiessner, Geschichte des Kaerntner Bergbaues, vol. 1, 1950; R. Mayrhofer, Goldwaescherei in Nideroesterreich, Jahrbuch fuer Landeskunde von Niederoesterreich, NF 30, 1952; Die Donau, exhibition catalogue, Engelszell 1994.