In June 1896, the Earnscleugh No. 1 dredge started on a 95 acres area, which had been granted to Charles Weaver, James Kelman, and engineer Alexander Black. The dredge was designed by E. Roberts, built in part by Black’s company, Cossens and Black from Dunedin. The dredge was 27.4 metres long, with 0.76 capacity buckets, and could dredge down to 11.6 metres. H.G. Downie was dredgemaster.
The operation was highly successful in finding gold, and in 1898 the Earnscleugh No. 2 dredge started, with the largest bucket capacity of any dredge in New Zealand at that time. The dredge was 29.8 metres long, with an elevator 21.9 metres long, again in part built by Cossens and Black. It would burn 6 tonnes of coal in a 24 hour period.
The Earnscleugh No. 3 Dredging Company held a neighbouring lease, also with Weaver and Kelman as principal shareholders. The Earnscleugh No. 3 dredge started in 1902. It was 40.2 metres long, with a 36.9 metre long elevator, and could dredge down to 15.2 metres. This company was liquidated, and absorbed by the main Earnscleugh Gold Dredging Company Limited in 1901.