Never thought I’d be reaching for tissues watching Gold Rush, but the Season 7 premiere is a bit of a tearjerker. When the hit Discovery Channel series begins Friday, Oct. 14 at 9pm ET/PT you’ll see 21-year-old Parker Schnabel at the gravesite of his beloved grandfather and mentor John Schnabel. It’s a sad start as the Schnabel family pays their final respects to a man they adored. But after the grieving, this season brings some positive changes for Parker including a new girlfriend, a custom new wash plant, a new profit strategy and a new TV series. We talked to him about it all.
On his grandfather’s passing and the support he received from family, friends and fans … Luckily we are in a small town and we were able to have a very nice service for him. We had a great goodbye. It was a lot of fun. A lot of my closest friends came out for the service and that was what was really important. I know that there was a huge amount of comments and notes online, but to me what mattered the most was those people who are close to us — not discounting the fans of the show — there were a lot of people here for me when I needed them.
On his investment in a customized $600,000 wash plant … I changed a few things on the design. The guy that really designed the plant was Hayden Cowen [spelling unconfirmed] who has mined up in the Yukon forever and is a super smart guy, he built several wash plants from the ground up, so it’s really nice to have that as a design. Something that is proven and well tested, and used by someone in the Yukon, with the same conditions that we are using a plant in. Hayden was invaluable to getting that designed. We tweaked a few things ourselves but it was really a good call to get that built. It’s a great plant and I definitely am real happy with it. It likes to wash a lot of rocks and find a lot of gold. It was a huge part of our season. It was a huge cost. Buying something like that brand new was a lot of money — lot of pressure to put on the operation.
On his beautiful new girlfriend from Australia — Ashley Yule …. Ashley and I met in Australia. We hit it off pretty well so I invited her over to spend some time in North America. Neither one of us knew what to expect but we had a lot of fun — she’s super easygoing, which is what you need out at a place like that. Ashley just rolls with the punches and helps out where she’s needed. If we need her to drive trucks she’ll drive trucks. She ended up cleaning gold a lot of the summer or helping do fuel things or whatever we needed her around the place. She stayed busy and tried to stay out of my way when I’m in rage mode. Yeah, it was fun. It was a good summer. I’m really glad Ashley was there for it.
On his uninspiring goal this season of just 3,000 ounces due to Tony Beets’ royalty clause [a clause that awards Beets 25% of his cut over 3,000 ounces) … The goal target is always a big part of the season and the guys weren’t real stoked on going for less gold this year than we had last year. But for me it was a business decision. At a certain point I think a 25% royalty rate – I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to pay that. I will look for other ground. I will go find something else well before I start paying a 25% royalty rate. And the only way to get that to change is by making a stand and saying: “I’m not paying that, right?” If I complain about it to Tony but then I go and mine 4,000 ounces and pay a 25% royalty rate on 1,000 ounces of gold at the end of the season and I’m sitting there complaining about it, that doesn’t really get the job done — right? I have — we have to — make a decision that we’re not going to do that and we’re not going to put up with that, and that’s the only way we’re going to fight back on it. Complaining is not going to get us anywhere. I’ve tried that plenty of times.
On how they can really be OK with just 3,000 ounces … We don’t start the season with the same goal we finish the season and that’s all I will say. But maybe that’s not a good thing? We might go down, too, right.
On Todd Hoffman’s move to Oregon … It doesn’t impact me in the least.
On naming his new washplant something special … We do name it something special but you’ll have to wait to hear about it on the show. It’s a wonderful name, by the way. [Mitch Blaschke came up with the name]
On trimming down his staff … If we’re going to lower our goal and we want to make more money, of course we’re going to have to go with less people. We really trimmed down the crew and went lean and mean and that is our way of saving money. Get the most out of the least amount of crew that you can.
On filming a new TV show and his plans for the winter … Well actually I’m working on another TV show right now so that will come out of the woodwork in a few months probably, but I can’t really talk about that too much. But it’s a pretty exciting new project that will keep me busy for a while. After that I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Maybe I’ll end up back in Australia. I don’t know.
On his new TV show’s subject matter (which also will air on Discovery)… It’s pretty much completely different. Not completely different but not too mining related.
Gold Rush airs on Discovery Channel Fridays at 9pmET/PT