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As Summer Dredging Returns to Nome, Some Expect Less Gold — and More Competition

Dredge operators wait for the season's kick-off meeting to start in the Nome Mini Convention Center.
Dredge operators wait for the season's kick-off meeting to start in the Nome Mini Convention Center. Photo: Tyler Stup, KNOM.

Dredge operators from around the area convened at the Nome Mini Convention Center Monday to kick off the up and coming summer season and to answer any questions related to mining.

The overcast weather in Nome made for a perfect background for about 25 people gathered for the dredging meeting. With current outside conditions unfriendly for dredging, Nome Harbor Master Lucas Stotts appreciated the high attendance.

One change Stotts sees this season is the number of dredges. “We had a very good turnout. We might be seeing a few less dredges than last year; it’s hard to tell at this point. But we’re expecting some larger guys, so I think things should be about the same.”

For retired mining engineer Randy Smith, this change in vessel size is a sign of competition.

“The reserves are getting down; the easy gold is disappearing. Now, it’s for the more serious people. Better recovery systems, higher volumes keep the economics going, and I think the crest has hit, and we’re on the downside now. You see a lot less people now trying.”

Smith says that dredge operators will need to go larger in volumes to compensate for a lack of easy gold. He has been mining off Nome’s shores for twenty years now. Owner of several boats, the biggest dredge Smith is bringing to Nome is the Annie Marie, named after his daughter. He says all the easy gold is disappearing, and compared to a few years ago, the crowd has slightly thinned out.

“I’m optimistic,” says Smith in the face of greater competition. “Because it’s more for the serious people now, not the get-rich-quick ones.”

Those seeking more information about dredging and harbor workings are encouraged to call the harbor office.

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