It’s a question we often hear from viewers who wonder what happens to the spots where the crews chose to mine. It’s called reclamation and it’s a subject the Gold Rush miners feel passionately about – especially Dave Turin.
We spoke to Dave about it and learned how the team dealt with the harsh jungle environment both during the hunt for gold and then when they left.
The first thing we talked about was just how different the jungle was from their mining up north. He was able to sum it up in one word: mud. He said:
“We’re used to dealing with a loose topsoil and rocks. In Guyana everything was mud, mud, mud. It was incredibly hard to navigate and it took a toll on our equipment.”
Despite the difference in the environment and the day to day drama it created, Dave pointed out that just like their work up North, they go in with a plan on how they were going to get out. Yes, they do have to cut a path to a site to dig and then they dig a hole in order to process the dirt – but all of that is founded on a plan on how they will restore the site when they leave.
Dave described the process of reclamation:
“When we go in with the earth movers we try to make as small a path as possible. We take up the topsoil first and set it to the side out of the way. Once a path is cut we set up the washplant and our trucks can begin moving the dirt from the hole to the washplant. Sometimes it’s close by, sometimes it can be far away, but all the dirt and rock that goes through the plant is also saved and put to the side.”
Dave explained moving the topsoil to the side is a job that requires precision because the goal is putting it back with the plant rich topsoil on top to encourage the plant-life to grow back. The extra mud, dirt and rocks from the dig site that has gone through the washplant is trucked back to the dig site and the holes are filled in.
In Guyana, the crew stayed an extra two weeks meticulously filling in the holes with the material that had been run through the washplant and replacing topsoil just like they would up North.
Guyana had a dramatic effect on the Hoffman Crew and their belief in leaving the land in a condition to grow back. During their travels around the country prospecting and looking at claims they were stunned to see stripped land, pocked with holes in many places.
“It looked like the surface of the moon. Because there are no laws on reclamation, little mining regulation, and the local miners are working at the most basic levels and may have been unfamiliar with reclamation the land had withered and the holes were filled with water.”
Dave explained not only is the stripped land bad for the environment, but the holes filled with water could be a breeding ground for mosquitoes that could carry disease.
The crew was so moved by what they saw they offered their services to the government – to come back and teach others how to mine with environmentally sensitive reclamation processes. While that offer has yet to be accepted Dave was enthusiastic about the idea:
“I’d love to go back. I’d definitely do it. There is so much we could do down there.”
Caption: This picture shows the team surveying a claim site they thought was viable. Instead it was already mined and left stripped. The land was largely barren.