Metal Detecting for Gold Nuggets at Ganes Creek, Alaska
Doug Clark of Clark-Wiltz Mining opened the Ganes Creek property near McGrath, Alaska to recreational miners in 2002. Note: the pay-to-mine operation ended in 2012. Ganes Creek is famous for the large nuggets found there in years past, and it was conjectured that people would pay for an opportunity to search for large nuggets lost in the tailing piles by past mining operations. The operation was a resounding success and has been in operation for 10 years now. Visitors in that time have found over 1700 ounce of gold and added over $2 million dollars in revenue to the mine.
Approximately 12 people per week are allowed to visit Ganes Creek at a cost of $3000.00 per person. They get room and board and access to the old mining operations. Bookings for 2011 was about 85 persons. That translates into over $250,000.00 in gross receipts, which helps out a lot in paying for diesel fuel for mining!
Why they pay to visit Ganes Creek - 33.85 oz Nugget found by a visitor!
Transportation to the mine is not included. The majority of visitors come from the Lower 48, with airline tickets running anywhere from $600.00 to $800.00 per person. At approximately $700.00 per person that is about $60,000.00 in airline revenues.
Nearly all the visitors fly from Anchorage to McGrath via Peninsula Air at a round trip cost of about $420.00, generating $36,000.00 in revenues for that airline. The next leg of the journey is from McGrath to Ganes Creek via Tanana Air of McGrath at a cost of approximately $200.00 per person. This small local charter operator no doubt appreciates the $17,000.00 in revenue.
One can only conjecture as to how many of these visitors spend extra time in Alaska taking advantage of their visit to sightsee or book a halibut charter. No doubt some do, adding extra tourism dollars to the Alaskan economy. It is easy enough to see, however, that the average recreational miner visiting Ganes Creek spends over $3900 in direct costs to visit Ganes Creek. This one small recreational mining operation will be responsible for generating over $330,000.00 in tourism dollars in 2011.