Parker Schnabel is back for Season 7 of Gold Rush tonight — and spoke exclusively to Monsters and Critics about the tragic loss of his grandfather and his ongoing feud with Tony Beets.
Beets — the Dutch-Canadian land owner with a Viking complex and handy subtitles — is rough around the edges and always squeezing the margins for leasees like Parker who work the ground hard and extract the gold.
In the upcoming season Parker has to pay Beets higher royalties when he reaches certain quotas of gold, and after we spoke with Parker it appears things between the pair are more than just tense.
Based on what he told us, it appears that Season 7 may be a true sidewinder, coming to a serious impasse which was foreshadowed heavily in 2014 and in 2015 when Parker and Tony had their epic fights. Remember this?
Last season was a tough one for Parker, whose beloved grandfather John Schnabel passed away peacefully in March this year aged 96.
Parker learned a great deal and spoke to us about how he has processed the passing of a man who gave him the tools to deal with the likes of Tony Beets.
Monsters and Critics: How have things changed after your grandfather’s death?
Parker Schnabel: Not too much has changed, I’m a better manager, dealing with people better [and] I’m always working on that.
But grandpa didn’t play a role in the day-to-day [work]. But [for me] his death was more of a personal issue than a business one.
On a personal side of that, I really strive to just focus on the positives, which is that I got to spend 21 years of my life with my grandpa, which is something a lot of people don’t get.
Particularly with a grandfather at that age. I didn’t have to watch him get dementia. I didn’t have to watch him decline slowly over the years and he was able to have a pretty good conversation up until a couple of weeks prior to his death.
So it’s definitely not something that I’m sad about, I’m just happy I got to spend the years with him and that he went peacefully.
A nice peaceful death at 96 is all you could ask for.
M&C: In the preview videos for Season 7, it appears you are limiting the work out of the claim because of Beets’ high royalty percentages?
PS: It’s pretty simple, our royalty rates go up…which makes no sense to me because our costs don’t go down.
As we find more gold, that rate goes up. Tony is sitting on this big resource and has a lot of ground there and that is the way they do their leases, they’ll never mine it out because they just disincentivize it so much with their increasing royalty rates.
In my mind, they should go opposite of that, and should say that your first 1,000 ounces you’ll pay 25% and then for 3,000-10,000 ounces of gold you pay at 10%.
It would incentivize you to find a lot of gold and get the gold out of the ground and pay them [their] royalty because they have so much ground, it will never all get mined.
If I was a landowner that’s how I would do it. But I’m not. I have to play by their rules.
So if they’re going to set the rules that you pay 25% royalty rate over 3,000 ounces, then screw it, we’re just not going to find any more gold in there.
We’ll make more money with a smaller crew going lean and mean doing 3,000 ounces than we will hiring all the people and paying the royalty rates to get to 5,000 ounces right?
So why beat up all of our equipment, beat up all of our people, put all that stress on me and Rick as my foreman and all that stuff just to line Tony Beets’ pockets and wear our equipment out?
I’m not about to do that and I don’t care what Crystal Doyle says and what TV wants us to do or any of that stuff. It’s just business, right?
M&C: How does discovering a mine to lease go about?
PS: That’s my biggest job, [being] out there trying to find new pieces of ground. I’m not involved in the day to day a whole lot, that’s why I have a foreman. If I wanted to be involved everyday, I wouldn’t need a foreman.
For me, my main job is to have a business that is sustainable and in gold mining that means having ground out ahead of you, and that is my biggest job.
I spend a lot of time on things I’m 90% sure are complete bullshit, but I chase them anyway…and I know of three very good pieces of ground that are good options for our company if something were to happen with our lease with Tony right now. So I’m always looking around.
Gold Rush Season 7 premieres tonight at 9/8c on Discovery.