The mining season in the Porcupine district started early this year.
Teen-age miner Parker Schnabel, whose family’s Big Nugget Mine has been featured on the Discovery Channel series “Gold Rush,” said his crews started in January and cleared about seven miles of Porcupine Road to prepare a new area for mining.
Opening the road that was eight feet deep in snow took about 15 days, Schnabel said. “It was pretty impressive.” His operation had four miners working there recently.
Schnabel said the availability of heavy equipment – used in the summer for other jobs – played a part in his decision to work in winter. Working in the cold also was easier on his trucks, which battle mud in the warmer, summer months, he said.
A strong price for gold also factored into the decision. “The price of gold factors into everything,” he said.
A Discovery Channel film crew documented some of the work, but Schnabel said the winter effort wasn’t prompted by the cameras. “They’re on my schedule. I tell them what I’m doing and they decide what they want to film.”
Neighboring miner Mark Sebens said it took him another two weeks clearing snow an additional mile to his mine. Sebens is working in a narrow canyon where stream flows are problematic in summer. He said he has diverted 200 feet of stream there.
Sebens’ crew of four workers is stockpiling and storing gold-bearing material to process later this summer. They’ve been working for the past month, Sebens said last week.
He said he should have been mining last winter. “Last year there was about two inches of snow. You could have shoveled it with a hand shovel.”