|prototype 12" SUCTION dredge
|Mr. McKinney, Operations Manager, first moved to the Bering Sea Coast at Nome in 1974
and lived there at two different times for a total of 10+ years. In 1974 he went to work for
UV Industries (later re-named Alaska Gold Company) who was bringing Dredge #5, the
largest land based bucket line gold dredge in the world, out of mothballs and putting it back
into production. After that job, he was self-employed, in exploration and mining of on-shore
placer deposits on Alaska’s Seward Peninsula (where Nome is located).
During this time, Mr. McKinney watched nearly every conceivable type of gold dredge
operate in the Bering Sea offshore of Nome, from small recreational six inch dredge
operations to the largest dredge in the world, the Bima. The Bima could dig down 150 feet
below the surface of the water. A very few of the dredges were moderately successful while
the vast majority were a dismal failure. Also during this period, Mr. McKinney talked
extensively with the dredge operators and owners about their dredging problems and
successes. He made a diligent study of what made a very few of the dredges moderately
successful and why all of the others failed. He was also able to compile extensive test data
from the offshore drilling and bulk sample program that was undertaken offshore. From all
of the information that he gathered he knew that the next big placer gold strike in Alaska
would be offshore of Nome.
After many years of non-formal study in economics, Mr. McKinney determined that the price
of gold was going to climb through $2,500 per oz. Then, in 2003, when the price of gold
was at approximately $350 and climbing, Mr. McKinney designed, and he and his team built
the prototype diver-operated 12” offshore gold dredge pictured here. The dredge
equipment was mounted on a self-propelled 12’ x 30’ aluminum barge, the first of its kind at
Nome. Mr. McKinney and his team operated this dredge very successfully offshore at
Nome. The prototype proved the efficacy of the dredge and gold recovery design that will
be employed by Challenger Mining on a much larger scale.
Port (left) side of the self propelled 12" prototype
suction dredge in operation.
Stern (back) view of the suction
dredge. The white water in the
sluice box is caused by 8" to 10"
rocks rolling across the 1" minus
A close up view of the sluice box. The water below
the 1" classifier screen is running smooth over the