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Akau Pay-to-mine Operation At Nome, Alaska

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Akau/Alaska Gold and Resort,L.L.C. started pay-to-mine operations in 2012 on historic mining claims in the vicinity of Anvil Creek near Nome. Anvil Creek was a very rich creek and many large gold nuggets came from this area. I was busy in 2012 but several friends visited the mine and initial results were very promising.

Nome Nugget Newspaper - See cover and page 16

Another article

Wow! Over thirty ounces in the group. My enthusiasm cooled a bit though when I found out most of it came out of a rich pocket that was found and shared. But then again, any one person could find a pocket like that, right? That is a major score.

I really agonized over whether to visit in 2013. But I had prospects of my own in Alaska to visit where I did not have to pay a fee. The prospects did not look as good, but I did not have to find nearly as much to call it a profitable trip. It may not be quite as fun but I do actually have to make a profit prospecting when I can so it all goes into my mental calculator. I heard they were getting access to new ground on Anvil Creek, and good buddy Ken was popping with excitement at the prospects. I did not go, but I just knew here was going to make me really regret it. Then, a weird split arrangement was put in place for access to the new ground. I ran a pay-to-mine myself and this smelled like trouble to me, so that cemented my decision to see how it went before going. They run late into the fall so I just figured I would go in the fall if I heard big things.

Well, I guess things went well but the news was if anything quieter than 2012. Lots of nice gold found in 2013 but not the huge nuggets I think that some were expecting. I ended up after my over a month of detecting in July ready for a break so I did not visit AKAU.

Now 2014 is coming. The bottom line is AKAU is the best pay-to-mine metal detecting gig going in Alaska now as far as I can see. The owners are super nice people and trying hard. New operation still needs tuning from what I hear, but they really are trying hard to make people happy, and that is what counts. There really is a good shot at a one ounce plus nugget, and that is a rare opportunity indeed.

Long story short at least four members of the forum have been there, Bob, Keith, Ken, and Tom. I am hoping they will chime in with a report. Mainly just telling people what to expect. Never having been there but having been to Ganes Creek and Moore Creek many times I already can tell people one thing. If you are looking to pay the fee plus air fares etc. and make a profit, do everyone a favor and do not go. Not if that is what you truly expect and if you will be unhappy otherwise. These things are a gamble and in most cases the trip is going to cost you more in money than you will make in gold. If even half the people could do that they would close up shop and start mining ASAP. But if you have the right attitude these things can be a real blast. I think this is well worth consideration.

So please guys, share your experiences with us. Thank you in advance!

Akau/Alaska Gold and Resort,L.L.C.

AKAU Facebook

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I visited AKAU last summer, spent two weeks at the camp, and was joined by Keith, an OLD prospecting partner of mine. I spent a lot of time previously at Moore Creek and Ganes Creek, before they both shut down to "pay to mime" operations. Currently AKAU is probably your best bet for this type of Alaska experience. Of course I had a great time as usual, as I love to go to these type of places to play in the dirt, have fun with what is usually a great bunch of people, not have to bathe, and have the opportunity to detect on rich ground and maybe find some good gold. I was hesitant about the advertised split of the gold, but decided to give it a try anyway. I don't know if they still do the split because it no longer says that on their website. Turns out I didn't have to split but one nugget because I didn't luck into any big gold. The camp owners are very nice people, very accommodating, and very busy servicing their clients while also working on expanding and improving the operation. Some things seemed a little disorganized when I was there, however, with a little time I am sure they will get things fine tuned. They are building some real nice cabins but also have some old ATCO trailers with rooms that we stayed in. I think these type of trips are a little spendy for me, and also here you want to consider the additional cost of the four wheeler rental which is a MUST. There is a lot of property to prospect and a lot of roads and trails to explore. Without the transportation you are severely limited. You can even go for a ride to Nome to look around or shop, this is nice compared to more remote mines, you can even have cold pop and beer there, how cool!

About the gold,,,,there is lots around, you just have to find it. tons of old mine workings of various methods to prospect. As with all of these trips, the people that were more experienced, with good equipment, worked harder, and the lucky, find more gold than others. As Steve always says, you can't go there expecting to get rich, or find enough to pay for your trip,,,but you might. I was amazed at how clean a some of the tailing piles were compared to Moore Creek, Augie dozed a couple to the ground over several days with not much of anything found, but there are hundreds more to try. I just happened to stop at a spot where we discovered a small patch of I think virgin ground and all of us found several small nuggets there. A word of advice is to bring your Minelabs, but also a good small gold machine.  Augie is also very knowledgeable about the area and history and so can answer all your questions, and might even take you for a tour if you ask. Betty, Tony, and the crew were great people, good cooks, and fun to talk to.

In summation, I think it's a good but improving operation, expensive, good gold if you can find it, lots of fun, historically interesting, scenic, with decent wildlife around....give it a try if this is something you enjoy doing. :D

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Steve, I would like to thank you first of all for mentioning us on your forum.  We had a very good year in 2013.  This was our 2nd. year in operation as a pay to mine operation.  We mined for many years as a family operation & decided to turn our claims into a pay to mine, giving those that love the outdoors & the thrill of finding gold the opportunity to enjoy the things we have been doing for years.   We are still expanding to accommodate more guests as we find there are many that enjoy this kind of vacation.  Those that make a business out of getting as much gold as they can possibly get & sell it probably aren't a good fit for us.  We want our guests to enjoy the many things that are available in Alaska that are not available else where.  This is a place one can relax, be waited on in a rustic setting & make new friends that are of like mind.   2013 was a year of excitement as many of our guests found 2.1 oz nuggets as well as many 1 oz. nuggets.  We also have high banking which many guests preferred over metal detecting.  Most of the high bankers took home at least 1/2 to 2 oz. of gold.  

  My son & I will never go back to mining as was suggested in your forum.  We have had the break down of equipment throughout our years of mining & neither one of us is a mechanic & trying to find one is like trying to find needles in a haystack.     We had one good mechanic Steve Pomrenke & he had the urge to mine too so that put us back to repairing our own equipment.  

This coming season we are leasing two different claims from long time friends of ours.  We plan to add dredging to our packages this coming season.  We are letting several return guests give it a try & will decide whether to add it later in the season or next year.  There will be a 10-15% royalty on the claims that we lease this year.  There is no royalty on the claims my son & I own. 

Our atv rentals come with gas or you may opt to have us take you to the site so as to metal detect.  It is not a must unless you wish to come & go as you please.  Many want the atv's so they can go on side trips to see the country side.

Speaking of country side, we had some excitement last summer as we were witnessing a herd of muskoxen being chased by a mother bear & her two cubs on the ridge just beyond our camp.   Our guests were able to watch this play out over a period of several hours.  The bears did not win the chase.  Four male muskoxen turned on the bears to protect the herd. Where can one see that kind of wildlife from a safety point?

We also had a tv production company that wanted to do a reality show on us which we decided was not a good fit for our company in spite of the terrific publicity it would have given us.   We did wish that they could have been there during the time the bears were chasing the muskoxen.  

We are still building for more guests for the future, however we don't want to get so large that we can't give each of our guests individual attention.  You can visit our facebook account to see the quantity of gold that was found at our site in 2013.  Hope to see some of you there next season.  Betty & Augie   

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Thanks Betty and Augie for joining the forum and responding here. You may want to watch for more questions. I for one do understand the difficulties of running such an operation. I appreciate the opportunity you are offering especially for those with no experience at all of remote Alaska. I always enjoyed my Alaska visitors at Moore Creek but it was the people who had never been to Alaska before and who never found gold before who were the most fun. Anything they found and everything they saw was new and exciting, truly life changing experiences for some. There is little that can match seeing a person find their first gold ever and knowing you helped make that happen. Good luck to you and your visitors in 2014. Maybe I will see you up there someday.

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I for one have followed the Gold Rush Alaska and Yukon Gold series on the Discovery and Nat Geo channels of gold mining from that part of the world.

It is amazing to see the vastness of the mountainous terrain which I expect has released the huge amount of potential gold bearing alluvial ground.

After reading Akau's reply where he mentioned both he and his son will never go back mining partly due to equipment breakdowns throughout the years then that seems to be always happening in both of these gold mining series.

Makes you think is it worth all the effort and expense to get such large operations up and running?

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 I was able to visit AKAU this past summer with "Big Nuggets Bob". Just call me his "OLD" mining partner. I too had problems thinking about spending money to fly to Nome and paying for over a week at the camp and then spliting half of my gold (with anything that would not fit thru a 1/4 " screen) but decided what the hell, why not.

 I have been to both Ganes Creek and Moore creek many times but never had the opportunity to go to Nome or had any reason to. All I can say is I'm glad I did. I never found anything that I had to split but that was OK, just seeing the scenery was worth it all. It was fun exploring the many areas to detect around camp and to just explore the country side. I even got a chance to meet one of the Pomrenke's, think it was Steve's twin brother and saw where their clean up shack and headquarters are.

 Betty, Augie and Tony were very gracious hosts and went out of their way to make sure that we had all the comforts of home and ate well (thanks Tony for the bbq's). One day Augie and I took a ride to visit a claim a friend of theirs had, it was quite a ways from the main camp. The ride was basically up a river bed with high willows on either side, it was a place I won't soon forget. Just wished I hadn't left my detector in camp. :angry:

  A person could spend weeks just detecting around all of the old workings that can be found out on the tundra, Every where that you looked there were holes dug and the dirt piled around in a circle, it almost reminded me a the gold diggings found in the Australian "Golden Triangle". I also think having a 4 wheeler to use is a must especially to come and go as you wish and to go where ever you want.

  I have no regrets what so ever in going, I never went with the expectations of making my money back. I just enjoy the hunt and hopefully will find the big one...Life is what you make it---have fun.





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The addition of the new claims sound interesting, I don't know if one of them is the one Old Mugsy visited with Augie, but sounds like that was a great spot, sounded like neat trip just getting there. Just kidding about the "old" thing, actually I turn 60 today and can't even believe it, in my mind I am still 25 years old. The Four wheeler thing is not really a "must", as Betty says, there is lots of ground within walking distance and certainly you don't need one if you are into highbanking or dredging, (by the way dredging sounds like a great idea I love to do that). If that was what I was concentrating on I would not get one. Also I am sure you can just get a ride to an area you want to work.  If you are seriously detecting and want to check out as much territory as possible, then you would want to rent one. Also as I stated previously, there is a lot of cool trails and roads to explore if even just to look at scenery and wildlife. If you get one it could expand your experience exponentially. We took a ride up Anvil Mt. and over the ridge there was a heard of Muskox laying in a patch of snow, very cool!

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I had the pleasure to visit AKAU last summer and had a great time. Found some gold, saw some good gold found ! Am returning this summer to give it another go. Augie , Betty and Tony are great host and very nice people. Nome is awesome and I would advise anyone to visit if this is an adventure you would be interested in! I was lucky enough to visit Ganes creek the last year it was open and now believe this is the next best option open to detect for nuggets!



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