Working Low-Water Bedrock (Part 5)

(Even a hand-held medical suction device like this may have potential when it comes to working low-water bedrock.)

In this post I'll continue to discuss various gold suction devices that can be employed to good effect in low-water bedrock conditions such as those currently impacting California and other western states here in the U.S.A.


I know what many of you're thinking already, "Highbankers? A highbanker isn't a suction device." Well, in the strictest sense you're right.

A highbanker is a portable, motorized sluice that can be used some distance from a water source and therein lies its main advantage. You can pump water through a hose from a nearby water source (stream, pond, etc.) to your highbanker and this allows you to work gold-bearing material located some distance away from that same water source. You should be able to immediately see the inherent advantages here, especially as they relate to processing low-water bedrock material.

Triple Threat

However, most modern retail highbankers also employ a suction nozzle device that can be used to suck up material through a fairly narrow intake. Conversely, in some units this same attachment can be used like the sprayer nozzle on a garden hose. Getting the picture here? Under low-water bedrock conditions a good highbanker unit is a triple threat:

1) You can shovel onto it to process shallow bedrock overburden.

2)  You can use the suction intake nozzle to "vacuum" gold-bearing material from cracks and crevices that contain water or that backfill.

(Gold Buddy highbanker or "super sluice.")

3)  You can use the "garden hose" attachment to shoot a focused jet of water into bedrock cracks and crevices to blast material loose from drier, compacted spots and then use the suction intake to clean that material out.

All in all, highbankers are reliable, efficient, and adaptable. A properly equipped highbanker would probably be my first choice in low-water bedrock situations where shallow overburden and both wet and dry gold-bearing cracks and crevices come into play and fairly easy access is a qualifier. On the down side, however, highbankers aren't really suitable for packing in on long or difficult humps in the boonies...remember, they're motorized and consume gasoline.

Listen Up

Since I'm on this subject, here's an important issue for your consideration. Depending on how long parts of low-water bedrock have been exposed, some cracks, crevices, or potential gold-bearing material packed behind obstructions may appear completely dry. However, in my own experience over the years it's very likely that once you start digging down to clear overburden or clean out cracks and crevices you'll either find damp material or even water backfilling your hole or that crack or crevice.

 (Be careful where you pee.)

Listen up. Rarely are low-water bedrock gold locations 100% dry, so bear that in mind because it's an important factor regarding your gold recovery potential. Trying to shovel wet overburden or remove waterlogged gold-bearing material from cracks or crevices with hand tools is not only frustrating but like peeing into the wind to a great degree. You WILL lose gold this way, no matter how careful you are or try to be. This is why some sort of workable suction device is so important in dealing with low-water bedrock conditions.

Best of luck out there.

(c) Jim Rocha (J.R.) 2014

Questions? E-mail me at


  1. I'm not even sure you can use a high banker in California anymore.

  2. You could very well be right about that considering the anti-mining trend there.


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