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Economic Impact of Suction Gold Dredging in California is Over $52 Million Per Year

July 22, 2009

Economic Impact of Suction Gold Dredging in California is Over $52 Million Per Year
by Scott Harn
ICMJ’s Prospecting and Mining Journal

The Surveys
An Environmental Impact Report on suction gold dredging was completed by the State of California in 1994. As part of this process, the State sent out two survey questionnaires. The first questionnaire was sent to over 4,000 individuals. Nearly 2,000 were returned completed. The surveys covered dredge locations, annual spending activity, amount invested in dredging equipment, nozzle size and related questions. The second survey was sent to county Boards of Supervisors, Chambers of Commerce and mining businesses to determine the importance of suction gold dredging on local economies. A sample of 1,257 of the individual surveys was used by the State to complete a statistical analysis.

The Results
“Suction dredging is an activity that requires a substantial investment.” It was determined that each suction dredger spent approximately $9,250 per year on expenses related to suction dredging in 1994. This included motels, camp fees, food, gas, oil, equipment maintenance and repairs related to suction dredging. Suction gold dredgers are currently spending approximately $13,249 each per year when adjusted for inflation.

The expenditures cited above did not include the cost of the suction dredge and related equipment, which the survey found was approximately $6,000 in 1994, or $8,594 adjusted for inflation.

In 2008, 3,523 suction gold dredging permits were issued in California. Adjusted for inflation, the economic impact of suction gold dredging in 2008 was $46.68 million. If only one-fifth of permitted suction gold dredgers purchased a dredge during the year, another $6.06 million would have to be added to the above figures, making the total economic impact $52.74 million per year.

Suction dredge miners contribute substantially to the economy of California.

(Note: This estimate does not reflect the value of the recovered gold nor the expenditures of those who may be assisting or accompanying the miner, which could substantially increase the economic impact of suction dredge mining in the State.)

  • California Department of Fish and Game. 1994. Final Environmental Impact Report, Adoption of Regulations for Suction Dredge Mining. April, 1994.
  • United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics. Consumer Price Index.
  • California Department of Fish and Game, 2009. Licensing statistics, Special Permits.

Copyright ICMJ & CMJ, Inc. 2009. (Permission granted to link to this document by copying the web address above.)

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