Nome miners explore crowdfunding
For eight seasons now, the Pomrenke family has entertained audiences on the Discovery Channel through the reality television show “Bering Sea Gold,” while giving viewers a glimpse into the life of a gold miner working in Nome, Alaska.
Now, the Pomrenkes are seeking out new opportunities for their company and the future of Alaska mining operations by launching a crowdfunding campaign with an aggressive fundraising goal to raise $6 million in six months or less.
While the Pomrenkes will continue filming “Bering Sea Gold,” their other ventures center around finding the most profitable, successful ways to sustain the mining industry in the Bering Strait region, and across the state of Alaska.
The company Pomrenke Mining, LLC formed in June 2016 as a combination of Northwest Gold Diggers, LLC and Blue Water Gold, LLC.
According to the company’s profile on the crowdfunding website Equitynet.com, “The companies decide to become strategic partners in the exploration and mining of gold on multiple land leases from the state of Alaska. As both companies grew, each saw in the other an ability to provide solutions to problems of growth, development, and profitability and each was better suited to work together.”
The management team of Pomrenke Mining consists of Chief Executive Officer Steve Pomrenke, Senior Vice President of Operations Shawn Pomrenke and Chief Operating Officer J. Keith Byer.
In an interview with The Nome Nugget last week, Pomrenke Mining’s father-son team explained that they are using the crowdfunding platform to not only raise money for expansion and new mining endeavors, but also to serve as a model for other companies in Alaska and to give other people an opportunity to invest in the mining industry.
“I’d like to see the smaller person get involved in this,” said Steve Pomrenke. “I’d like to see the fans of Bering Sea Gold get involved.”
Opening their company up publicly to investors using an online platform falls under the United States Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 506(c), where “a company can broadly solicit and generally advertise their offering.”
Under this fairly new crowdfunding rule, companies like Pomrenke Mining may use an online platform to advertise and seek out accredited investors. “Accredited” means that investors must meet certain requirements for income or net worth, to be able to invest in the company.
While not just anyone can invest in the company – accredited investors must have an earned income over $200,000 ($300,000 with a spouse) or a net worth over $1 million – these income guidelines are low when compared to other investors that mining companies normally seek out, such as with large investment firms or big banks.
Travis Taylor, Business Development for Pomrenke Mining, explained that in the past, mining companies have always had to partner with large companies or hedge funds. “It’s very difficult for junior mining companies to secure their financing,” said Taylor. “They had to work with whatever Alaskan investment group they could get – which are few and far between.”
Taylor explained that with the decline in the mining industry over the past several years, Pomrenke Mining wanted to give accredited investors – not just big banks or investment firms – the opportunity to invest in Alaska mining.
“In regards to the equity raise, the Pomrenkes could self-fund their own operation,” added Taylor, noting that Pomrenke Mining did not have to choose the crowdfunding path in order to expand their business. “They could have invested their own money. It is a profitable company that is continuing to grow,” he said.
So why seek out investors for unnecessary funds? Steve and Shawn Pomrenke explained that it’s about setting a standard for mining companies in Alaska and opening the door for them to learn and to be a part of the industry.
“I truly care about Nome and the community,” said Shawn Pomrenke about the future of the industry. “There’s a lack of new mining, new mining methods. With this new method we’re hoping to get 15-20 guys employed for the next 15-20 years.”
The “new method” mentioned by Shawn Pomrenke was explained in detail during the interview. Pomrenke said it’s a combination of a suction dredge and an excavator barge like the Christine Rose, the flagship of Pomrenke Mining and one of the most successful excavating ships in Nome.
“The [new] barge is about eight times bigger than the Christine Rose in size,” said Pomrenke. “We should be able to stay out there longer and in bigger weather; where we’ll be more productive and produce a lot more gold.”
Besides the new method for marine mining, Steve Pomrenke also plans to expand the Pomrenke’s inland mining projects with funds from crowdfunding, and was keen to point out that these new projects mean the creation of new jobs in the area.
“With a couple different projects and two inland operations needing around a dozen people, we’re talking about twenty jobs,” said Steve Pomrenke. “Jobs for Nomeites.”
Travis Taylor made sure to add that not only would these be jobs for Nomeites, but they would be well-paying, long-term jobs. “Steve and Shawn believe in Alaska, believe in the Alaska economy, believe in mining and creating jobs,” said Taylor. “It’s about jobs, about job creation, and building something sustainable.”
While the Pomrenkes continue to give their fans something new to watch each season and are keeping the brand fresh with a new look, new logo and new merchandise (the company will soon be revealing the opportunity for fans to purchase limited edition Pomrenke Gold), their main focus remains to grow the mining industry and help to fuel the Alaska economy.
“There’s a lot of gold left in the state of Alaska,” said Shawn Pomrenke. “The easy ground to mine has already been mined. In the state, we should be able to drop the cost of mining down and make it profitable.”
Steve Pomrenke mentioned he’s working on a top-secret inland operation right now – attempting to mine frozen ground – which has been tried and failed by many miners in the past.
“They’re trying to pass on a legacy to help others do what they do,” said Travis Taylor. “It’s no longer just 20 jobs being created by them – it’s over 1,000 jobs created by the industry as a whole.”