Learn if you can suction dredge for placer gold mining

Suction dredging is popular in other places. But in Yukon, you need the proper mineral rights and permits to dredge. Because of the negative impacts that suction dredging has on fish and their habitat, it is unlikely that you'll get the permits. If you apply, expect your application to take up to 1 year.

To get mineral title you must complete either:

  • on-the-ground staking of a placer claim; or
  • an application for a dredging lease.

Placer claims

Placer claims can be staked along a baseline that follows a creek. Smaller ponds and water bodies may be encompassed within a placer claim or claims. Read our placer staking guidelines to learn more about what's required.

Dredging leases

Dredging leases only apply to rivers that are 46-metres (150-feet) wide or greater.

Getting the right permits

You'll need:

  • a water licence, issued by the Yukon Water Board;
  • an authorization from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans; and
  • either our approval on your Class 3 operating plan or a Class 4 operating plan approved by the Yukon Water Board.

You need to prepare a Class 4 operating plan to apply for a water licence.

You also need to complete an assessment through the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Board. Complete the assessment before we make a decision on your Class 3 or Class 4 operating plan.

Fish habitat

The predicted habitat suitability for the watercourse where you're proposing to work will strongly influence whether:

  • permits for your work will be issued;
  • a site-specific authorization will be required from the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans; and
  • what mitigation measures will be necessary.

Based on habitat suitability, getting a permit for in-stream dredging of any major Yukon river is not likely.

If you still want to suction dredge

For more information on your ability to suction dredge in Yukon contact a Mining Recorder's Office.