What's a Gold Dredge?

The author using a small gold dredge in central Arizona in the 1990s.

What's a Gold Dredge?

A gold dredge is a type of mining equipment that is used to extract gold from rivers, streams, and other bodies of water. A gold dredge typically consists of a floating platform that is equipped with a series of pipes, pumps, and other mechanical components. The dredge is used to suck up large volumes of water and sediment from the bottom of a river or stream, flow them over a sluice box with specially designed riffles that collect gold from the sediment. Dredges come in all sizes from huge oceanic commercial machines to smaller units that can be hand carried or placed in a backpack.

To operate a gold dredge, the operator typically starts by positioning the dredge in the water near a known gold-bearing area. The dredge is anchored in place, and the operator begins to pump large volumes of water and sediment through the dredge's pipes and mechanical components. As the water and sediment pass through the dredge, the gold is separated from the other materials via the sluice box and riffles and collected for later processing. Each "run" of the dredge results in "concentrates" that are later processed to separate gold from other heavier elements collected such as hematite, magnetite, or lead.

One of the key features of a gold dredge is its ability to process large volumes of water and sediment quickly and efficiently. A gold dredge is typically equipped with powerful pumps and other mechanical components that can handle large volumes of water and sediment. This allows the dredge to process large amounts of material in a short period of time, and it makes the dredge an efficient and effective tool for extracting gold from rivers and streams.

In addition to its ability to process large volumes of material, a gold dredge is also designed to be portable and easy to operate. Most gold dredges are designed to be easily transported from one location to another, and they are typically equipped with simple controls that allow the operator to adjust the dredge's speed and other settings as needed. This makes it easy for the operator to move the dredge to different areas and to adjust the dredge's settings to suit the conditions in each location.

Overall, a gold dredge is a powerful and efficient tool that is used to recover placer gold. Be sure to read How to Get Started for more information.