This page has been created in response to the
large number of inquiries being generated by the new Discovery
Channel show, Bering Sea Gold: Dredging for Freedom.
Keep in mind that although shows like these are
billed as reality shows they are in fact not a true depiction of
reality. The shows are scripted for drama to create viewer interest.
This page seeks to inject some reality into the situation and help
answer common questions.
This page will be updated periodically to add more
information in a condensed format. For even more information and
more immediate answers to questions visit a special thread on the
AMDS Prospecting Forum devoted to the subject. Call or emails to
AMDS regarding dredging at Nome will be referred here and to the
forum for answers. The forum thread is
Some basics. The cost of living at Nome is 17%
higher than the US average. You can pay two or three times more for
something in Nome than you would elsewhere. And due to the gold rush
housing can be almost impossible for a visitor to find. There in no
road to Nome - you either fly there or barge equipment there.
Virtually all ground onshore is claimed or private property and
offshore ground covered in leases. Unless you buy a claim or lease
or work a deal with the owner don't even bother with plans beyond
that. You need to have access to ground worth working. The public
mining site is closed to commercial operations.
Store bought dredges need to be modified for ocean use or custom
rigs built. Storms can and will put large dents in operating
seasons. And oh yeah, it is hard work! The odds for most people are
very much in favor of it being a money losing operation.
IMPORTANT UPDATE May 30, 2012
Just out, the new Nome Dredgers Resource Guide from
the State of Alaska at
IMPORTANT NOTICE 5/7/2012
Nome Offshore East and West Beach Recreational Mining Areas
The Department of Natural Resources, Division of Mining, Land and
Water, hereby gives notice that May 30, 2012 will be the deadline
for the division to receive offshore suction dredge applications
from miners interested in mining in the Nome offshore east and
west beach recreational mining areas during calendar year 2012. This
deadline is being implemented as a precautionary measure to mitigate
potential safety concerns, prevent overcrowding, and provide for
efficient processing of the permits and effective management of the
two recreational mining areas.
Letter from State of Alaska:
You are receiving information regarding gold mining in the Nome
area. You may have contacted our offices because you saw the reality
program on the Discovery Channel “Bearing Sea Gold” and now want to
“seek your fortune”.
Prior to making a trip to Nome, you will need to research and know:
1. the cost of your travel (there are no roads to Nome)
2. the cost to get your equipment to Nome (again no roads to Nome)
where and what it will cost you to “live” in Nome
3. if you are prepared to find very little gold compared to what
you’ll spend to find it
If you have never used suction dredging equipment in Alaska, you
will need to educate yourself and receive training to properly and
safely operate the equipment. Two untrained miners have died off
shore of Nome while mining.
Two sources of local information for Nome are the Nome Nugget (www.nomenugget.net)
and the Nome’s Convention and Visitors Bureau (www.visitnomealaska.com).
There are no campgrounds in the immediate vicinity. Additionally,
the land surrounding Nome is privately owned with the majority of it
held by various Alaska Native Associations. You are not allowed to
camp on private land without permission and would need to contact
the appropriate association (listed below) or other private land
owner to negotiate an agreement to use their land.
Sitnasuak Native Corporation at
Bearing Straits Native Corporation at
King Island Native Corporation (Kawarek) at
Nome Gold Alaska Corporation, P.O. Box 1718, Nome, AK 99762
The Bearing Straits Native Corporation and the Nome Gold Alaska
Corporation own surface and subsurface rights to their land. As
such, you are not allowed to mine the beach or the uplands of this
privately owned land.
Two (2) areas in Nome, the West Beach Public Recreational Mining
Area and the East Beach Public Recreational Mining Area, are the
ONLY areas where you are able to recreational gold mine with a
suction dredge. Commercial operations are NOT allowed in these
NOME RECREATION AREA STIPULATIONS
Management of both the current East Nome Beach Public Mining Area
and the proposed West Nome Beach Public Mining Area is an issue of
increasing concern. With the current high price of gold and
increased interest in offshore mining there have been several
incidents of friction between miners in the East Nome Beach Public
Mining Area. Local police have been called on three occasions. There
have also been some problems of miners in the public mining area
straying onto leases held by other miners.
Permits and Stipulations for Use of the West Nome Beach Public
As a result of the above management concerns, there will be new
permitting requirements and permit stipulations for miners in both
public mining areas. An Annual Placer Mining Application (APMA) and
Miscellaneous Land Use Permit (MLUP) will be required for all sizes
of dredges in both public mining areas. This requirement will allow
the DNR to revoke permits for miners who do not follow the
stipulations for operating in the public mining areas. Generally,
the permit stipulations will apply in both public mining areas at
Nome. The stipulations will be as follows:
1. In the West Nome Beach Public Mining Area miners will be limited
to six-inch or less suction nozzles with no more than 18 hp pump
engines. This limitation is to maintain the small/recreational
mining character of the public mining area, and to extend the life
of the resource in the new area.
2. Eight-inch Nozzles with 36 hp engines will be allowed in the East
Nome Beach Public Mining Area.
3. Miners may not leave any type of marker to secure a location for
their exclusive mining on future days. The miner only occupies a
location while their dredge is on that location and in operation.
Miners will not be allowed to leave their unoccupied dredges on site
in order to preserve a location.
4. Miners must maintain a minimum 75’ distance between dredges. The
first miner on site establishes their position; miners arriving
later must locate with no part of their operation, dredge, anchors,
or divers, less than 75’ from the first miner’s dredge.
5. State land begins at the mean high tide level. Since the average
tide range at Nome is 1.04 feet, this means that in order to be on
state land the miner must effectively be in the water. All of the
uplands at Nome are privately owned. Therefore, highbankers can be
used in the surf below mean high tide, but not higher up on the
6. Because the uplands are all privately owned, any miner mining or
camping on the beach or tundra above the beach will be in trespass
unless they have permission from the land owner. Trespass is not
allowed, and is grounds for revocation of the miner’s permit.
7. Permits can be revoked for failure to follow stipulations or for
any actions that impede another miner’s ability to mine, or cause a
threat to safety.
8. Permits can be revoked or denied for failure to file the
appropriate Mining License Tax and Production Royalty returns.
9. Miners operating in either of the public mining areas will
confine their operations to those public mining areas. Miners will
not mine outside of the public mining area without an operator
authorization, approved by the DMLW, from the adjacent lease holder.
10. No individual, association of individuals, or company may hold an
interest in the operation of more than one suction dredge in the two
public mining areas combined. The dredge may have only one hose and
nozzle. The intent of this stipulation is to prevent any individual,
association of individuals, or company from leasing out a number of
dredges to be operated in the public mining areas and retaining a
royalty on production from the dredges. Owners of dredges may rent
multiple dredges to miners for use in the public mining areas, but
the dredges must be rented at a set rental rate, with no royalty on
production. No royalties (other than the Production Royalty owed to
the State under AS 38.05.212) are to be paid on production from
either of the public mining areas.
The proposed stipulations will aide in the management of both the
East and West Nome Beach Public Mining Areas. The stipulations will
also help prevent the friction that has begun to occur among
dredgers. Requiring a permit for all suction dredgers will provide
the DNR with knowledge of who is mining in the public mining areas,
and a tool for enforcing adequate conduct.
Stipulation #3 will allow fair access to all miners. There will be
no “staking a claim” to hold a spot in the public mining area
indefinitely. The 75’ buffer between dredges required by stipulation
#4 will further miners’ safety. Finally, requiring miners to obtain
a permit will give the DNR a means of ensuring that all miners file
appropriate Mining License Tax and Production Royalty returns. The
DNR recognizes that compliance with permit stipulations will be
increased with greater DNR presence. Therefore, the DNR will
endeavor to provide greater presence in Nome during the mining
In addition to the DNR Miscellaneous Land Use Permit, suction
dredgers may have to obtain permits from the U. S. Army Corps of
Engineers and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.
Operators will also be subject to the Alaska Coastal Management
Program. Under the APMA process, however, the DNR will distribute
miners’ applications to these agencies for processing and
This chart was provided by DNR
When it comes to the leases, recreational areas and permitting,
please refer people with questions to the following link:
This link will be update periodically.
For mining on State Land or for off-shore recreational gold mining
State of Alaska
Department of Natural Resources (DNR)
Division of Mining, Land & Water
DNR Public Information Center: (907) 269-8400
Important Note 5/9/12
- The Port of Nome was over capacity last year (with lots of double
parking being required), and the situation is expected to be much
more crowded this year, permits for parking in the port will be
limited. Plus parking along the Snake river bank has been restricted to
specific areas so as to not conflict with public access to the
river. Dredgers should plan
for alternatives to mooring in the harbor. Contact the Harbormaster