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Steppegold
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Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 12:33:31 SunJan 31 2010 )

Hi everybody,

Got held up in Afghanistan and then up to my neck in work and sand in the Gobi. Glad to be back!

I've got some stories to share about GIANT gold dredges, and - eventually - to show how they MIGHT make a comeback.

Anyhow, let's see what GIANT gold dredges are all about, by sharing a trip to the Zaamar Goldfield in Mongolia, where these monsters ain't laid up antiques and museum pieces, BUT BRAND NEW! These pics are of a trip last summer with Bernd and Kersten from Germany, and for some reason the best pics are Bernd's!

We got to the edge of the mining area in the early hours of the morning, and traffic was really aweful....road hogs!


Gee seemed we were the last to arrive at the panning site....


Oh, what's going on here?
Its no good painting a dredge green and then steaming up and down the river - this one got nabbed by the inspectors! Its a huge home-made Chinese-designed dredge. I think Popandson saw it briefly on his trip to Zaamar a while back, just as it was about to start. But now its a sorry rusting impounded hulk.


Interesting...seems to be the only cutter suction dredge in Mongolia. Lets get loose of these darned horses (and flies Ed) and take a closer look....
[2 edits; Last edit by Steppegold at 13:01:39 Sun Jan 31 2010]

  
Steppegold
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Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 13:28:20 SunJan 31 2010 )





Well it sure ain't a bucket-line dredge, its definitely a cutter suction dredge.


As it happens, cutter-suction dredges have pushed out LARGE bucket-line dredges from most civil dredging, and from gold dredging EXCEPT for in Mongolia (5 giant bucket-line gold dredges), China (30 or more giant bucket line gold dredges), and Russia (maybe 50 giant bucket-line gold dredges).

Time to get going and see the giant bucket-line gold dredges downstream...



  
BillA
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Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 15:07:17 SunJan 31 2010 )

welcome back Steppe
why would a dredge be impounded ?
(pay the fine and go back to work ?)

Bill

  
JOE_S_INDY
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Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 17:13:33 SunJan 31 2010 )

STEPPE ! ! ! ! ! ! !

W . E . L . C . O . M . E . . . B . A . C . K . . . ! . ! . !

:clap: . . . :doublethumbsup: . . . :clap:

We were all about to take up a collection for the ransom! Thank Goodness you escaped.

I know I speak for all of us in saying we've all missed you here and we're all relieved you are safe!


Joe S

  
kringle_mining
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Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 17:52:43 SunJan 31 2010 )

War Ponies galore,
Welcome home Geo Steppe!

  
polekaat
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Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 20:01:38 SunJan 31 2010 )

Welcome home Steppe!!
We always worry when you're away for long stretches.
Good to see you back.




---
We're all victims of our own gene pool. Apparently someone pee'd in yours. "Walter Bishop"
 
 
Muley
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Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 21:26:57 SunJan 31 2010 )

Steppe, WELCOME BACK and please do tell us about your advaentures, I'm all ears (I mean eyes)
Muley

  
Greg_in_BC
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Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 22:11:54 SunJan 31 2010 )

I Echo all the sentiment Steppe . . . had us bit worried. A hearty welcome back. May your travels have proved very fruitful:doublethumbsup:

  
overtheedge
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Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 01:55:08 MonFeb 1 2010 )

Any word on the book publishing?

  
Zooka
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Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 04:21:32 MonFeb 1 2010 )

Yahoo! Talk about bringing a smile to my face!
We missed you, amigo. I had to fortify the homestead to keep the mob from stealin' that advanced copy of your fine book too. I know you could sell a bunch here for sure.

Cutter heads, huh? How do they deal with the Big Rocks problem? Or do they just go for the lower grade, smaller gravel deposits? Cutter heads were invented more for harbor silt dredging if I'm not mistaken, I never had much confidence on their efficiency in larger cobbles..

Really great to see ya here again, Robin.

-Zooka


  
dredger
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Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 04:42:55 MonFeb 1 2010 )

:doublethumbsup: yahoo.

  
tenderfootminer
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Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 05:47:53 MonFeb 1 2010 )

A big welcome home! and thanks for the winter of reading :=)

  
Reg_O
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Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 05:53:22 MonFeb 1 2010 )

:welcome: ALWAYS looking forward to your commentary and pics. Welcome back. :welcome:

Reg O

  
Steppegold
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Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 08:51:01 MonFeb 1 2010 )

Wow, hi everybody - its great to be back among friends. Sorry about being 'absent without leave for so long'. Lets see if I can make up for it. About "the book". The first step has been to revive the website www.mine.mn and there is now a lot of stuff there, some from the book, and some new articles etc. Now we are figuring out how to distribute the CD. Difficult to post from Outer Mongolia! Therefore scrapped that idea, and now its going to be 'pay online' and get 24 hours or whatever to download the book as a wacking big PDF. My son Nick is here and with Degee (Esee_mn just registering this week) have to solve how to do the megadownload. We need to know how slow/fast easy/difficult to download the megafile will be (Ideas please!) so we might be game for giving "test download" FREEBIE rights to all members of this Forum (me too Ed!). Should be in about a weeks time - hopeful. Then we will anyway shift the website to a host in say California (ideas please folks!) where connection speeds are better.

To be truly global the website of papers and 'the book' needs to be in English, Spanish, Chinese, Russian! Just as we were about to hire translators, wow found a trick to translate the lot automatically - rough but OKish.

Meanwhile back to giant gold dredges....

  
Steppegold
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Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 09:05:48 MonFeb 1 2010 )

ZOOKA: Cutter heads, huh? How do they deal with the Big Rocks problem? Or do they just go for the lower grade, smaller gravel deposits? Cutter heads were invented more for harbor silt dredging if I'm not mistaken, I never had much confidence on their efficiency in larger cobbles..

You are right on this one. However, unless the nuggets are HUGE then there is no gold lost by leaving behind a lag deposit of boulders. Sure you realise the risk then is that the lag of cobbles and boulders then forms armour-plating that a) protects the bed from more dredging, and b) protects heavy gold from being caught.

So far as I know, there is NOTHING to rival a bucket-line dredge as a mining machine! The buckets rip the rock. With my own eyes I have seen boulders as big as the bucket being raised, and - takes some believing - even an elephant (you mean Mammoth Ed). OK a mammoth Elephant (you mean a elephantine Mammoth Ed). Ahem a great big wapping Mammoth with tusks like as big as lamp-posts. (er got any pics? Ed). Yeah somewhere.

Whuur wuzzz eye....

The real advantages of cutter suction dredges over bucket line dredges are:
a) much lower capital cost,
b)lower operating cost
c) interesting one this - often a lower environmental impact.
d) easy to forget this one - the washplant is easy to put on a pontoon off the actual dredge, whereas it HAS TO BE ABOARD a bucket-line dredge (such dredges swing too much).

Two cutter suction dredges are starting mining in the floodplain later this year (downstream), one to strip off overburden followed by a second one that mines the placer.

Oh, here is a large bucket-line dredge....



Lets get a closer look...
Its the Shijir Alt North Dredge.
OK guys and gals, A QUICK QUIZ - any ideas about the red/orange stuff?



Here is some solid info about the North Dredge that I've been scribbling for our website....

The "North Dredge" of Shijjir Alt Ltd, more properly named the Alt (= Gold) Dredge is the oldest dredge in the Zaamar Goldfield. The dredge is mining the alluvial Tuul Placer and the underlying red Ulaan Placer from beneath the floodplain of the Tuul River, and beneath the lower terraces.

The dredge belongs to Shijiir Alt Ltd, and is a Russian-made Bucket-Line Dredge manufactured by IZTM in Irkutsk in Siberia. The dredge became operational in the mid-1990's after a 10-month construction and assembly period. It has a displacement of 1,500 tons, and a maximum reach (depth) of 12m although the average operating depth is usually about 7m. The dredge has 77 250-litre buckets on a chain, and a dredging design capacity of 1.2 million m3 a year. The rated capacity is 350m3 per hour, with 1,800kW of on-board power and a nominal power load of 700-800kW. Power is supplied by the electric grid. Gold recovery is by traditional Russian sluice boxes designed for continuous operation.

The normal working speed of such a dredge is 22 to 24 buckets per minute (bpm) in gravels and 18 to 20 bpm in clayey intervals such as the Ulaan Placer. The bucket volume is 250 litres (0.25 m3) and the average fill is 75%. Therefore the normal working capacity is 24 bpm x 0.25 m3 x 60 minutes x 75% = 270 m3 per hour.

The number of buckets is not important for capacity calculations and is a confusing figure. It is related to the maximum dredging depth and used to estimate dredge price and the wearing costs one can expect. Important for capacity calculations is the number of buckets per minute going over the tumbler and discharging material.




Clearing the path for the North Dredge are two large Walking Draglines that strip off the overburden:





More about the tag teams of dredge+dragline later with some super pics by Bernd.

Meawhile let's push on downstream to see the large Bayangol Dredge, another bucket-line gold dredge monster mining machine...

Steppe
[5 edits; Last edit by Steppegold at 11:27:19 Mon Feb 1 2010]

  
Steppegold
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Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 11:48:06 MonFeb 1 2010 )

Ah there it is!
The Bayangol Dredge of Altan Dornod Mongol Ltd.



The Russian owners of this dredge are in big time dispute with the Mongolian government, over non-payment of the Windfall Tax on gold sales - they refused to pay on grounds of Russian-Mongolian international agreements, whereas the law to me is crystal clear - PAY. So the Government was patient for a while, and then seized the dredge and the fabulous placer gold mines owned by the company. The dispute is now in Arbitration Court in Europe.

All that was needed was a bit of common sense. The Windfall Tax was a bad idea of Parliament (opposed by Government and President but Parliament is supreme here - a pure democracy!). And a nice loophole was blatantly obvious, big enough to punch a hole in with a dredge! I advised my placer friends DON'T SELL YOUR GOLD OUTPUT - PUT IT IN THE BANK. Quite a few did, and the Windfall Tax is on sales, so no sales = no tax due. But then just BORROW $$$ with the gold dore bars as security. The Windfall Tax backfired, the Government lost tax revenue instead of increasing tax revenue and GOLD SALES fell, GOLD EXPORTS fell, but gold mine output only dipped a bit. Now the Windfall Tax is to be phased out (it reduced tax revenue of Government) and then all these safe deposit boxes will be emptied and wow the gold exports will spike and... (that's enough ranting Ed)

Oh a sad sad site. Its the middle of the mining season, and here is a huge dredge sat in its dredge pond sleeping.



And a neat point - see those two SPUDS? Both are DOWN. Which means the dredge cannot move. If only one spud is down then the dredge pivots on the spud, and creates a cutting sweep with its buckets, and its rear end sweeps in unison in the opposite way, and deposits the familiar arc of coarse tailings (aka BANANAS). Then after the dredge has gutted out the placer from the arc, the other spud comes down and the original spud is raised. In effect the dredge WALKS ON A PAIR OF SPUDS. (like stilts? Ed). Yep like stilts but under water.

So, large bucket line dredges leave a tell-tale track in their wake of BANANAS dumped imbricate on each other like fallen dominos, and the whole lot has the technical term CROCODILE.

Anyone confused/unclear about SPUDS, CROCODILES and BANANAS please shout now! It is crucial to understanding giant bucket line dredges of yesteryear (Alaska, Yukon, California, Colorado, Idaho etc) and today (Siberia, Russian Far East, China, Mongolia). And this aint just an interesting tale, for large bucket line dredges CAN make a comeback in the USA and Canada in spite of tree huggers - watch this space....

So, make sure you gotta handle on SPUDS, CROCS and BANANAS. (Steppe are you for real? Ed). Sure am, for a few tweaks to a large bucket line dredge makes it eco-friendly. (If pigs could fly. Ed). They can, they will.

  
Steppegold
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Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 15:02:20 MonFeb 1 2010 )

Racing against time we arrive at the Toson #2 Dredge, which is the most downstream giant bucket-line dredge of the Zaamar Goldfield. Like both 'sister' giant dredges owned and managed by women, it sure is a nice neat shipshape dredge! Popandson visited this dredge or its sister a couple of years ago.

Here are some great shots by Bernd of the dragline clearing the overburden from the path of the Toson #2 dredge:



Its a walking dragline and it really can walk. Once it gets to wherever it was walking to, it raised both its legs and therefore lands with a bump on er (careful family thread Ed) its nether regions. With its nether region now thudded to the ground, it can now pivot in some safety, whereas a tracked dredge would definitely topple. Here is a glimpse of the pad of its nether region:



And here is the Walking dragline dumping overburden...



What makes a dragline - track-mounted, wheeled or walking - special, is of course 'the bucket'. Lets take a look, and remember to keep you and your horse out of the way or the fast moving bucket will scrape you up!



S - c - r - a - p - e.....



....and release



Later on, aboard the Toson #2 Dredge thanks to Monpolimet Ltd, here is a really nice shot by Bernd of the dragline from the upper deck:



Here is some scribblings I've penned:

Walking Draglines are profitable and popular in Mongolia as the preferred means of cheap large-scale removal of overburden from gold placers. In the Zaamar Goldfield they are used to prepare the dredge paths of 5 large Bucket-Line Dredges, 2 owned by Shijiir Alt Ltd, 1 by Altan Dornod Mongol Ltd and 2 owned Monpolymet Ltd. Nearby, 2 more Walking Draglines strip the overburden in the Hailaast Valley as part of large-scale dry mining by Hailaast JSC of the alluvial Hailaast Placer.

Intermittently, Shijiir Alt Ltd redeploys its Walking Draglines from dredge-support duties to strip overburden for occasional dry mining of the alluvial Tuul Placer (Quaternary) and the clayey red Ulaan Placer (Neogene).

Elsewhere, Walking Draglines were formerly used in the Bugant Goldfield in pre-stripping overburden in advance of Bucket-Line Dredges, and unitl recently were used in the Shariin Gol Goldfield for stripping overburden in dry placer mining.

The popularity of Walking Draglines is due to:
  • speed,
  • ruggedness,
  • long reach,
  • low operating cost,
  • straightforward soviet technology,
  • affordable spare parts,
  • proven track record, and
  • elimination of numerous trucks, excavators or bulldozers.
    A typical example is an Esh 70/11 model with a bucket capacity of 11m3, a boom length of 70m and a stripping rate of 400m3 per hour, power rated at 550kW from the national electrical grid. The cost new is around $2m.

    The Walking Draglines usually stop mining in mid December due to intense cold and resume mining in mid April.

    Operating 20 hours per day for 30 days per month, an Esh 70/11 Dragline is capable of stripping up to 240,000m3 a month, giving an annual output of 1,920,000m3 for the 'Dragline season'. That is impressive, and costs (capital + operating) should be well below 20 cents per m3.

    However, the Walking Draglines have major shortcomings that are now becoming critical:

    Firstly, the Draglines are not designed to excavate under water and this means that the overburden below the water-table is a considerable problem. The Draglines are not able to strip below the level of the Tuul River, but it is beneath the floodplain where the much of the huge Tuul Placer occurs.

    The remedy resorted to is to strip the overburden down to the river level and then for a Bucket-Line Dredge to dredge out not only the Tuul Placer but also the wet portion of the overburden. The penalty for this is that as the Bucket-Line Dredges have integral On-Board Wash Plants, all material has to be dredged, including every m3 of dredged overburden. This is a mild irritant when the top of the Tuul Placer is shallow, but in some areas the top is many metres below the water table and then the annual gold output will fall sharply if a Bucket-Line Dredge is dredging and washing overburden for much of its operating hours.

    Secondly, a Walking Dragline is not so cheap for its overburden mounds are supposed to be later lowered and smoothed, more than doubling the costs due to 'double handling'. A major concern to environmentalists, regulators and the local community is the reluctance of mine owners to undertake this expensive work promptly, if ever. In the semi-arid sharply continental climate of Zaamar, the steep-faced conical and linear dragline mounds are too dry and steep to vegetate and a visual barrier of trees is not possible.

    Thirdly, the Walking Draglines often strip along with the overburden rich pockets of pay-gravel, and in some areas draglines have stripped away an entire upper pay zone to lay bare the target lower pay zone, according to research by Eco-Minex International. This makes good economic sense for the Dragline user, but can leave behind dragline mounds that are capable of being profitably re-mined in some instances.

    [4 edits; Last edit by Steppegold at 15:24:18 Mon Feb 1 2010]

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    Steppegold
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    Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 15:30:53 MonFeb 1 2010 )

    And here comes Toson #2 Dredge, and we are going aboard!



    First, to see the bucket-line....



    Notice the very powerful winch system of pulleys to raise and lower the immense weight of the bucket-line. In this view the bucket line is raised and the buckets are merely dibbling in the water rather than ripping stuff.





    If the buckets are full of gouged out placer, they are full; if they are not full of pay dirt then they are full of water - much of which cascades down the bucket line and - as I hope you can see in this pic - the water ends up flushing the leading buckets.



    Of course some gold is lost by this flushing!

      
    Steppegold
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    Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 15:41:48 MonFeb 1 2010 )

    Going aboard the dredge, we get a rare view of the UNDERSIDE of the bucket-line and its buckets.



    (why do all the buckets have the date 2005? Ed). 'Cos the dredge was launched in 2005 and these buckets have not needed to be replaced.



    But of course the lips of the buckets take a real battering and they get worn down. No problem - the buckets are fitted wit a nice set of Terminator dentures and so when worn down the old dentures are unbolted and new dentures fitted and then off it goes chomping away at the pay dirt again.



    Never look a gift horse in the mouth but always check the buckets. If a dredge has an arrear of maintenance, then the buckets will have 'dentures' missing. And if the dredge has run out of gold/cash or if the owners are milking the dredge for cash, then the dentures are WELDED on to the bucket. This is great for a while but then the entire bucket has to be discarded or expensively repaired.


      
    Steppegold
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    Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 15:54:54 MonFeb 1 2010 )

    Here you can see the passive rollers that support the chain and buckets of the bucket line - and wow look at all that gold dirt being flushed out!




    A key to success of a large bucket-line dredge is this: the buckets are CAST metal and CURVED into a SPOON SHAPE. Dunno if you ever used a spoon properly when eating pudding, but it possible to "dig" the pudding by stabbing the FRONT of the spoon forward (lung, lift) or just as easy is to scrape with the EDGE of the spoon. And that is the magic of a large bucket-line dredge for it has LARGE buckets that cut FRONTWARD to make a slot, then cut SIDEWARD to left as the dredge swings on its spud to the left and then cuts SIDEWARD to the right as the dredge returns to the right.

    This is far better than a small bucket-line dredge which although costing very little to make, can often only cut SLOTS (lung FORWARD, cut slot and then PULL out, then repeat ad finitum). Great for working soft sediment such as old tailings, but not suitable for ripping fresh material. Now guys and gals, if you can find/invent a way of making SMALL buckets that are ROUNDED and therefore the small dredge can use spuds and cut sidewards, then small bucket line dredges suddenly become able to challenge cutter suction and even small suction dredges. Any ideas much appeciated!

    Now back to this large bucket-line dredge, and all aboard!

      
    Steppegold
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    Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 16:04:53 MonFeb 1 2010 )

    Hmmm, that's a lot of electrics. The 5 large bucket-line dredges all have electrical supply from the national electrical grid - ecofriendly, and cheap, but prone to outages. Still far better than using diesel that is so variable in price and if you spill one drop of it then the treehuggers go ape.



    Not quite as fast as Startrek but surely the next best thing!



    The Dredgemaster has total control of the spud winches, the bucket line drive unit (at the top tumbler, as the bottom tumbler is under water and not a good place for electrics), the winch unit that raises/lowers the bucket-line, the crane for er craning things aboard and ashore, the drive unit of the mother-of-all-trommels, the chain-drive for the SELF CLEANING sluices, the winches for pulling the horizontal guy wires that pull the dredge to left and right, and not forgetting the plug for the kettle for brewing tea.

    In addition, the dredge has a small coal-fired boiler for raising steam and hot water for heating the dredge - indeed the dredge is largely inside an insulated metal box, including the rear stacker conveyor.



    Just as on a big ship, the 'bridge' has to have a commanding view, but more so on a big dredge because it it moving not only forward but also sidewards.

    Here is the Dredgemaster's view of the bucket-line ahead...

    (I do like those curtains, Ed)
    [3 edits; Last edit by Steppegold at 16:14:18 Mon Feb 1 2010]

      
    Steppegold
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    Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 16:21:52 MonFeb 1 2010 )

    This pic gives some idea of the brute strength of the winch of the bucket line.

    .


    We don't see the h-u-g-e trommel on this trip (can post from old pics if anyone interested) but hey we do see the HUGE sluices and I'll upload these pics soon as I can.

    Any comments/questions so far?

    Steppe

      
    Steppegold
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    Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 16:25:06 MonFeb 1 2010 )

    This is the pic I think most of you will like best!



    Any comments....!

      
    Zooka
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    Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 16:49:04 MonFeb 1 2010 )

    I'll gamble that the redness is from magnetite that is so long in one place that it is oxidizing to rust. I have seen some ancient gravels similarly reddened by the magnetite.
    Got to get to work, more later...
    -Z

      
    peluk
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    Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 17:49:24 MonFeb 1 2010 )

    Hello Steppe,I have some questions...If that is oxidized magnetite as Zooka suggests,it will also color the gold.It could easily obscure the gold color.I've seen it here(Nome) on gold and just read that it was a problem on Anvil Creek in areas as well.It made amalgamation very difficult for one thing...but,
    to my questions....
    1)Are those sluices the "continuous operation,Soviet style sluices"you spoke of?Does that mean each can be isolated for cleanup by a shutoff gate then cleaned while the other sluices continue to operate?
    2)Is there no frozen ground there?
    3)What is the pay per average cubic yard?

    In reading recently,"The Northern Gold fleet",it states the returns from dredging around 1918.In the Nome region, the average cubic yard was worth $.48 while in the Kuskokwim region(e.g.Iditarod and Flat) it was $.96 per cu.yd.I believe gold was then $19 per oz.

      
    tenderfootminer
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    Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 19:43:22 MonFeb 1 2010 )

    WoW yep steppe we missed ya what great pics and storys keep going!:smile:

      
    Lanny_in_AB
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    Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 00:04:04 TueFeb 2 2010 )

    Fascinating thread. Well done! Thanks for all of the pictures and the text.

    All the best,

    Lanny

      
    Muley
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    Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 00:24:30 TueFeb 2 2010 )

    Where do I sign up for the tour?

      
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    Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 00:58:30 TueFeb 2 2010 )

    Howdy Stepp,
    I occasionally work on most of the big draglines here. Not that it's old hat, more like, I can relate to your posts. No dredges here though. Really good to have you back. Always look forward to what you have to share with us.
    Carry on!
    Tom

      
    kaveman
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    Re: Gold Dredges, Bacon n' Beans, Crocodiles and Bananas ( 01:36:33 TueFeb 2 2010 )

    Welcome back Steppe! Fantastic pics and stories. I find it amazing that these big old(not so old really)bucketlines are still in operation and can be inspected and their stories learned. Seems like history coming back to life,.............something you would think had been gone and lost forever.

    Just read your new 2010 edition of World Placer Journal and have one thought(other than the correction that the Sumpter dredge operated in eastern Oregon, not Idaho),.......................

     NE China –Hanjiayuanzhen fleet of dredges
    By chance, a fleet of six large bucket-line dredges are
    visible on Google Earth at Hanjiayuanzhen in Heilongjiang
    Province in NE China. Several are visible in a time series
    (11th Aug 2006 and 10th Feb 2007), showing the entire
    fleet mothballed for the harsh winter. Pg10

    On page10 we have paired pics of six dredges that supposedly show the dredges at work and mothballed for winter. Seems strange,..........all the dredges are in exactly the same position in both winter and what appears to be full-fledged summer(note the leafed trees). How can that be, that they would shut the entire fleet down in the heart of the dredging season? Gotta be more to it than that. Note that a couple of them are turned out of the workface even in the summertime pics.

    I would expect to see summer pics of the dredges working and mid-winter pics with the dredges perhaps in the same general area,.................but definitely NOT in identical positions. What's up with that?

    Interesting conclusions about the BAT, the WAT, and the WAT becoming BAT all by itself if left alone. I understand that the only way it can happen is if the tailings aren't overly worked since mechanical working could be expected to keep the cobbles at the surface and displace the fines, but OTOH, those long crocodiles of sterile rock piles sure do seem like a limitation on animal movements. I'm sure the recovery is dependent on local weather patterns and moisture,...........some of the more sterile piles probably just need longer to recover.

      

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