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Suction Dredging for Gold: The Basics

For the amateur prospector who wants to take their hobby to the next level but doesn’t want to work in a mine, upgrading to suction dredge can be a great way to find more gold while still enjoying the great outdoors.
A suction dredge essentially works like a heavy-duty underwater vacuum cleaner. It sucks up rocks, gravel, silt, and anything else at the bottom of a streambed using a gas-powered pump and suction hose. These materials pass into a floating sluice, which filters and recovers the gold. In a way, the process is like a combination of the best parts of gold panning and gold dredging.

While it may sound easy, suction dredging is much more difficult than vacuuming coins out of your couch cushions (or gold flakes out of your carpeting). The process involves hauling heavy equipment, lifting and moving stones too wide for the suction nozzle, fighting against the water’s current, and lots of swimming. It also requires a large investment upfront, with the cost of equipment averaging several thousand dollars.

If you want to learn more about how suction dredges work and how they find gold, check out our infographic below.

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