Interviews

Gold Rush: Exclusive interview with Freddy Dodge about his new show Mine Rescue

Freddy and Juan
Freddy Dodge and Juan Ibarra are an excellent team for the new Gold Rush series. Pic credit: Discovery

Discovery is taking a new original Discovery+ series, Gold Rush: Freddy Dodge’s Mine Rescue, and putting it on the mothership this Friday night.

The series is yet another spin-off, like Parker’s Trails and White Water. But, it has a very different premise.

Monsters & Critics spoke to Freddy yesterday about this new hit series that takes a kinder and smarter approach to the mining genre and helps people right their ship and start to earn some real money.

The twist is that this series features just Freddy Dodge and Juan Ibarra, the men consistently called in when the tailings hit the fan for the core cast of Gold Rush.

A Colorado native and a long time miner, Dodge is instinctual when it comes to visualizing and addressing a poorly performing mine.

His secret weapon is Juan Ibarra, an equally competent and expertly gifted machinist and mechanic who can make damn near anything and has a rapport with Dodge that is uncanny, we find out in our exclusive interview.

Freddy is taking his tool belt on the road to stop struggling mine owners from striking out in the all-new series Gold Rush: Freddy Dodge’s Mine Rescue that kicked off on January 4 on the new network, Discovery+.

This Friday, the home team Discovery will air his episode for those who may not have signed up for the massive content streamer.

Fans already know who Freddy is, this kind-hearted secret weapon in the gold mining world. In each episode, Dodge and Ibarra seek out those who contacted them for help and reveal hard-earned practical knowledge about where to look for gold as well as insider tips on mining and making money.

Their collective knowledge of geology, prospecting, drilling, and testing to find pay dirt is legendary. Freddy was even called in for help on Gold Rush this season, as his nephew, Kendall is part of the struggling Fred Lewis crew of veterans at the Elkhorn claim.

Exclusive interview with Freddy Dodge

Monsters & Critics: You had me in that scene with the little girl who gave you the thank you letter in that premiere episode.

Freddy Dodge: Well, that little girl, she told me, ‘thank you for saving my family.’

M&C: How did you first cross paths with Juan?

Freddy Dodge: Juan is a good person. Juan was up in the Yukon. I think he started in 2015, I think. And he showed up and we just became friends. We work extremely well together.

M&C: When this show was conceptualized did you and Juan already agree that you wanted to work together?

Freddy Dodge: Well, we’ve helped each other out over the years. Lots. Even beyond TV. And with all the people on the show and of all the people I’ve ever worked with, well I’d rather work with Juan doing what we’re doing more than anybody else I could ever think of.

He’s a good person and he’s good at what he does. He’s just an all-around great guy.

M&C: So many of the core cast of Gold Rush have called upon your services over the years. You worked a lot with Todd Hoffman who is no longer on the series. In Season 8, you said that was not a gold miner. Do you still believe that to be true? How do you feel about Todd Hoffman today?

Freddy Dodge: I probably did. I said a lot of things. Todd’s a dreamer, right? Todd’s not the guy that’s going to get his hands dirty on a daily basis. He can put stuff together.

Well I hate delving into that too deep because I like Todd, he’s a good guy…but maybe, you know, at that stage of his life, gold mining wasn’t for him at that moment anymore. He decided to get out of it. See, I talk circles around that.

M&C: I get the sense and the feeling that you also have a closeness with Rick Ness?

Freddy Dodge: Rick’s a good guy. He’s got a good heart. He does. I mean, he’s getting a lot of grief right now, and he leased property last year, in 2019, they didn’t have hardly any gold on it for lack of a better explanation.

He was behind the eight ball from the time he hit the ground there.

M&C: Have you worked with Parker?

Freddy Dodge: Yes, I’ve helped Parker. Years ago I helped him and I set his gold room up for him. Initially, I helped him with Big Red in there. He kind of got that from me. So, I helped Parker too.

I haven’t really helped Tony much. I’ve known Tony a long time. I met Tony in the Yukon in 1992 or ’93. He’s a character that’s for sure.

M&C I interviewed Todd Hoffman and Todd said that Tony could find gold on Mars. 

Freddy Dodge: I don’t know about that, but he’s got gold on his property.

M&C: In the family in Arizona episode, were you shocked after once you fix their machinery, they were able to recover so much gold?

Freddy Dodge: It was actually more than I thought they were going to get, to be honest with you. And I knew we were going to improve their recoveries because their water system was so horrible.

Not only did we increase the amount they were running per hour, we increased their run time and we increased the recovery systems.

We did a lot more there than they could put on TV in 45 minutes. So there’s some things that viewers aren’t going to see that Juan and myself did to help them as well.

But their silty water was so dirty, it was stealing gold from them. Like when you’re running a milkshake down the sluice box, you’re fine gold recovery is is going to go to heck for lack of a better word. So, we helped them out in a lot of different ways, but the water issue was the main one.

M&C: It’s really ingenious all your fixes, replacing the mechanism, and you keep bringing that up in the episodes that I’ve seen you keep saying, it’s the simplest fixes. People overthink their operations. The second episode, that graphic designer turned miner spent so much money…

Freddy Dodge: And he did.

M&C: Here’s this guy he’s a graphic designer who had all this money, I guess. And he spent close to a million dollars...

Freddy Dodge: ‘Had’ is the key word there. [laughs]

M&C: Would you call yourself a fixer?

Freddy Dodge: Well, I do my best and every situation is different. That is one of the difficulties with what Juan and myself are doing. We’re showing up at these places. We haven’t seen them before. Right?

So we have to hit the ground running and we have to hit the ground thinking on what we can do in a week to get these people profitable or to help them out. So, it’s kind of a stressful situation at times because we’re just on the go and everything’s on the fly.

M&C: How did these people find you?

Freddy Dodge: We put a post out on some of the miner forums and stuff and they made contact. I put posts out on my social media too on my Freddy Dodge, gold recovery page.

M&C: Is this how you’re going to continue finding miners as the series progresses?

Freddy Dodge: I imagine multiple ways. Believe it or not. Right before I got on the phone with you, a gentleman called me, he lives in Northern Colorado, that has a mine in Alaska, and he just asked me for help. And I’m like, I can’t talk right now. I’ve got to do an interview. I said, I’ll call back when I’m done. So as soon as we hang up here, I got to call him back and how he got my number. I have no idea.

M&C: It wasn’t from me! How do you like being on Discovery+ versus Discovery?

Freddy Dodge: Well, it’ll be on Discovery this Friday, but it’s different. I didn’t know what was going to be on Discovery+, but evidently, they thought it was good enough to put on there and it could make its own way.

It didn’t have to be tied in with Gold Rush. It’s strong enough. And you know, it’s something new, it’s something exciting. It’s something people haven’t seen before.

M&C: It has a lot of heart. They’re going to have to clean up your language though. You venture into Tony Beets-land with the F-bombs there. So they are going to have to bleep you!

Freddy Dodge: Yeah. Yup. That happens out in the mines. But usually, I thought they’d be more bleeps, but on Discovery+ they didn’t believe anything else. The thing about this show too is it is just truly helping people.

M&C: You really are. These people are for the most part worn out, in different episodes the commonality was that your miners you and Juan were helping were both worn out. It’s like you inject this energy and belief into them again.

Freddy Dodge: Yes. And we’ve put a new set of eyes on their situation, right?

People tend to get tunnel vision and so Juan and myself are coming in with our experience and our fabrication skills and our equipment, right? Our trucks and what we’ve got and we hit the ground and we see things that they don’t see.

We see things that they might’ve looked around, but didn’t acknowledge is that was the problem. And our experience lets us see it right away.

And Juan and myself, we worked so good together. I mean, there’s nobody I’d rather work with than when Juan Ibarra…our chemistry. We actually worked so well together.

We don’t even have to talk to each other. Sometimes we know what each other needs and what that guy’s move is going to be without even saying anything. It’s kind of weird actually.

M&C: You guys are a natural team.

Freddy Dodge: Again, we have good humor too. We’re exactly the same when we’re off camera as when the cameras are rolling, you know?

We bullsh*t each other and have fun and laugh. There is no ego. Like Juan and myself…neither of us are better than the other guy.

We’re a team. And we work as a team and we do a good job.

M&C: Was there any disappointment when you were filming this before it aired, was there any mine where you had to tell the people, you need to cut your losses. There’s not enough gold on this land for you to sustain anything. Have you had to have that conversation?

Freddy Dodge: We didn’t have that this summer. We had one, in Arizona, some guys that brought a plant in and they never run it before and they didn’t really know what was in the ground, but they ended up finding some gold.

So I hope, I hope they did good.

This summer we didn’t run into the situation where people had to pull out because there wasn’t enough gold, but it will happen. It will happen.

M&C: I know you’re from Colorado. I know that the West has a lot of gold because of the geology and geography of North America. Where is the most gold-rich area that you think is undermined?

Freddy Dodge: In North America. I would probably say the North Slope of Alaska, possibly some areas up in there. And Antarctica, the ice-covered continent.

There’s been people everywhere on these gold rushes, and man has been searching for gold for thousands of years.

It caused the migrations to North America. And across North America and South America. Gold has always been precious.

Gold Rush: Freddy Dodge’s Mine Rescue airs Friday at 9/8c on Discovery and is currently streaming on Discovery+.

April Neale
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