Another versatile method adopted by serious gold prospectors is through a highbanker. This is done by using a highbanker dredge and combines the principles of both highbanking and dredging to extract gold from waterways more efficiently.
Here’s how the processes differ when using this method:
A. DIFFERENT CONSIDERATIONS AND PROCESSES IN HIGHBANKING
1. Equipment Setup:
- In addition to the typical highbanker equipment, a highbanker dredge incorporates a suction nozzle or a suction hose. This nozzle or hose is connected to a water pump, which creates a strong suction to dredge material from the riverbed. You can see how all this connects together in the picture above and full specifications of some of the equipment needed can be obtained from the links in 3. below.
2. Location Selection:
- When using a highbanker dredge, prospectors often target areas with a higher likelihood of substantial gold deposits, as this method can process larger volumes of material more rapidly.
3. Setting Up the Highbanker Dredge:
- The setup is similar to that of a regular highbanker, with the sluice box, hopper, water pump, intake hose, and legs. However, the crucial addition is the suction nozzle or hose, which is positioned in the water and directed toward the riverbed.
4. Material Extraction:
- Instead of manually digging and feeding material into the hopper, the suction nozzle or hose is used to vacuum material directly from the riverbed. This is a more efficient way to extract material and minimize manual labor.
5. Material Processing:
- The material extracted by the suction nozzle or hose is transported to the highbanker’s hopper. From there, it enters the sluice box, where the gold is separated from the lighter material, just like in a regular highbanker.
6. Optimizing Water Flow:
- Proper water flow management is crucial. Prospectors need to ensure that there is enough water for the suction nozzle or hose to operate effectively while maintaining an adequate flow in the sluice box to capture gold particles.
7. Rinse and Repeat:
- As with highbanking, prospectors periodically clean out the sluice box to remove accumulated black sand and other heavy materials. The gold collected during this process is stored in a container.
8. Shutdown and Cleanup:
- When finished prospecting, the highbanker dredge is shut down, and all equipment is carefully cleaned. Gold collected in the sluice box and other parts of the equipment is retrieved and stored.
9. Environmental Considerations:
- Using a highbanker dredge often involves more intensive environmental regulations and permitting processes compared to standard highbanking. Prospectors must adhere to these regulations to protect aquatic habitats.
The primary difference between using a highbanker dredge and a regular highbanker is the method of material extraction. A highbanker dredge uses suction to remove material from the riverbed, making it more efficient for processing larger volumes of sediment. However, it also requires more equipment, and prospectors must be aware of and adhere to strict environmental regulations to minimize ecological impact.
B. STEPS TO FOLLOW WHEN GOLD PROSPECTING USING A HIGHBANKER
Selecting a Suitable Location:
- Choose a location with a history of gold deposits or areas with favorable geological conditions. Ensure that you have permission to prospect in the chosen area and that you are complying with any relevant regulations.
Gather All Necessary Equipment:
- Collect all the equipment you will need, including the highbanker dredge unit, suction nozzle or hose, water pump, intake hose, sluice box, hopper, legs or sluice stand, and any required tools and safety equipment.
Inspect and Prepare the Equipment:
- Before assembly, thoroughly inspect all components to ensure they are in good working condition. Clean any dirt or debris from the equipment.
Position the Highbanker Dredge:
- Set up the highbanker dredge in a stable location near the water source. Ensure it is level and securely anchored to prevent it from shifting during operation.
Connect the Water Pump:
- Attach the water pump to the intake hose. The pump should be placed in a suitable location where it can draw water from the river or stream.
Connect the Suction Nozzle or Hose:
- Attach the suction nozzle or hose to the highbanker dredge unit. This is the component that will be used to vacuum material from the riverbed.
Position the Sluice Box:
- Set up the sluice box downstream from the highbanker dredge unit. The sluice box should be on a slight incline to allow for efficient material processing.
Attach the Hopper:
- Secure the hopper to the top of the highbanker dredge unit. This is where you will feed material into the system.
Connect Water Flow:
- Attach the intake hose to the water pump, and then submerge the intake end of the hose in the river or stream. Ensure that water flow is consistent and sufficient to operate both the suction nozzle/hose and the sluice box.
Test the System:
- Before processing material, run a test to ensure that water is flowing properly, the suction nozzle/hose is working effectively, and the sluice box is set up to capture gold efficiently.
- Start by digging material (sand, gravel, sediment) from the riverbed using the suction nozzle/hose. Direct the nozzle/hose towards the hopper, allowing it to be transported to the sluice box for processing.
Monitor and Adjust:
- Keep a close eye on the system as it processes material. Adjust the water flow, angle of the sluice box, and suction power as needed to optimize gold recovery.
Clean Out the Sluice Box:
- Periodically, stop the material feed to clean out the sluice box, removing any accumulated black sand or heavy materials. Collect any gold recovered during this process.
Shutdown and Cleanup:
- When prospecting is complete or you’ve obtained a satisfactory amount of gold, shut down the highbanker dredge system. Disconnect the water pump, suction nozzle/hose, and all hoses. Clean all equipment thoroughly.
Store Gold and Equipment:
- Safely store any gold you’ve collected in a secure container. Store all equipment in a clean and dry location to prevent damage and corrosion.
Adhere to Environmental Regulations:
- Ensure that you comply with all local environmental regulations and obtain any necessary permits for highbanker dredge operations.
Setting up a highbanker dredge can be a complex process, and it’s important to have a good understanding of the equipment and its operation.
Here is a YouTube video which shows you in detail the important aspects that you should know about this:-
Additionally, always prioritize safety and environmental responsibility when prospecting for gold.