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A power sluice, sometimes called a high-banker or hi-banker, is a piece of gold prospecting equipment that uses a pump to force water into a sluice box to mimic the natural flow of a stream. Sometimes a hopper box with spray bars and a classifier screen (or grizzly) is employed. The gravel is added slowly by shovel into the hopper box and washed over a classifier screen to remove pieces of rock that are too large to go through the sluice.


One of our high-bankers, ready to work in Guatemala

The water pump can be either electric or gas-powered. If the unit is designed to catch and recirculate the water it is called a recirculating power sluice, or recirculating hi-banker.

Benefits of High-bankers:

Rather than haul excavated material some distance to a water source, you can bring a lightweight, efficiently powered sluice to the material. A powered sluice can work remote placer deposits hundreds of feet away from a stream or river. With water recirculating units they can be operated even in desert areas with very little available water.

Typical hopper design washes clay and debris with a high pressure spray bar and the washed material is thus “classified” or reduced to less than 1/2 inch, thus improving recovery of smaller gold particles. The spray bar may be equipped with a valve for ease in controlling water flow in the sluice.

The sluice box itself is constructed like a normal stream sluice except it is equipped with an adjustable, independent leg support system that permits the sluice to be set up on any variation of terrain in a matter of minutes.

Envision a sluice box, mounted on a 4-legged stand, that gives the sluice box the correct slope. A box (called a “hopper”) is mounted at the top end of the sluice into which gravel is shoveled or loaded. Inside the hopper is a “grizzly”; a series of sloping, evenly spaced steel rods that segregate, and separate larger rocks from finer sand and gravel and direct the unwanted material out of the hopper. Also inside the hopper are one or two “spray bars” that wash the loaded gravels, flushing the finer material through the grizzly and into the top of the sluice. If you then simply add a gas engine powered water pump and some hoses to get water from a source to the spray bars you will have what we call a “High-banker”. In fact, high-banking is often also called “power sluicing”.

Like other equipment, high-bankers come in a large variety of styles and sizes. Small high-bankers often come with a pack frame so that the device can be packed into remote locations. Larger high-bankers are often a combination of both conventional dredge and previously described high-banker, giving the prospector/miner the option of either high-banking some distance from a stream or river or dredging in the waterway itself.

Differences in riffles, spray bars, carpets, miner’s moss, engine/pump combinations, hoses and frames all contribute to a seemingly infinite variety of high-banker configurations. Obtain one that suits your needs and prospecting area. Most high-bankers are moderately priced, come in pieces for easy transport, and are quite efficient to use.

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