High gold prices cause a new rush

May 15, 2008 1:33:38 AM PDT
The next big trend is actually an old one that is becoming revitalized. With gold prices surpassing $1,000 an ounce, there is a new rush to strike it rich in the foothills of California.

Thanks to the high price of gold, the rush is on to find it in the Sierra.

Whether it's by panning, dredging underwater, or mining it underground, people are searching for it.

"These are screening devices and of course, gold pans," says Mike Dunn, owner of Gold Pan California in Concord.

Dunn sells everything from pans, to metal detectors and expensive dredging equipment. He's having a tough time keeping it all in stock, thanks to a dramatic jump in business.

"Three hundred percent, approximately, increase in business," says Dunn. "All the major manufacturers of mining equipment are running at least two months behind."

"There's something right here," says a kid.

The art of gold panning is making a comeback especially in places like Downieville.

"Let the gold settle down to the bottom," says Robert Burns.

Burns retired from serious gold prospecting several years ago, but now he plans to get back into action.

"There's more gold in these mountains than was ever found or taken out," says Burns.

"So has the price gotten you more interested again?" asks ABC7's Laura Anthony.

"Definitely has. I'm going to dredge," says Burns.

A dredge is like a giant vacuum cleaner sucking up dirt and rocks that hopefully contain some gold.

It's important for would-be prospectors to know, they can only mine areas that haven't already been claimed by private individuals or mining clubs like Bridgeport on the South Yuba River.

"Is there still gold in the river?" asks Anthony.

"There is. There's quite a bit of gold. People, if they know what they're doing, can make a couple hundred bucks per day," says Jeremy McReynolds, a park ranger.

People like Mike Miller have made much more than that in a single day. For Miller, the new gold rush began about 25 years ago when he became the president of the Sixteen to One Mine in Alleghany.

"We're what you would be calling traditional hard rock, small vein, high grade gold miners," says Miller.

Originally opened in 1896, the Sixteen to One has yielded more than one million ounces of gold over the years.

"The single most profitable day here at the Sixteen to One Mine came in 1993, when a crew mined 2,500 ounces of gold in a single shift. At that time, it was worth a million dollars," says Miller.

Today, that same amount would sell for more than $2 million.

Unfortunately, because little gold was found last year, Miller had to lay off most of his crew.

"We chased little specks of gold, which is the greatest indicator of gold," says Miller. "But it never in our terminology wired up into a pocket."

Now, Miller plans to sell off his gold collection, worth more than $3 million dollars at today's prices, to finance future operations and explore the many unexamined sections of the Sixteen to One.

"You bet we're going to ramp up. I think we're in for a pretty good time, for three or four or five years, maybe longer," says Miller.

Miller won't be alone. With gold's resurgence, there's a strong push to re-open several old mines in the Sierra.

New Gold Rush
Gold Pan California
1021 #D Detroit Ave.
Concord, CA 94518
(925) 825-GOLD
mike@goldpancalifornia.com

South Yuba River State Park
at Bridgeport
(530) 432-2546
www.parks.ca.gov

Downieville
www.sierracountygold.com

Original Sixteen to One Mine
Alleghany, CA
(530) 287-3223
www.origsix.com


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