Gold miners in Western Australia have hit what they call “the mother lode”. A rich seam of gold-bearing rocks, including some of the largest specimens in mining history, unearthed near the town of Kambalda, 630 kilometres east of Perth. In the past four days, more than $15 million worth of rare gold specimens have been brought to the surface.
The deposit was discovered after workers at the Beta Hunt mine made a cut half a kilometre deep in the earth. They knew there was gold around there somewhere: the mine’s genealogy manager, John Vinar, told Fairfax that "Every now and then you get these little match head specks or you might get something more than that, like thumbnail size gold".
What they weren’t expecting was a veritable “bonanza zone” of gold-encrusted boulders—the biggest of which weighed in at 95 kilos and took three men to lift into the back of a ute. That piece alone contained 2,300 ounces of gold and is estimated to be worth about $3.8 million, while another 63-kilo specimen containing 1,600 ounces is valued at about $2.6 million. All of it was found within a single square metre of rock.
“You might go your whole life and you’ll never see anything like it,” senior geologist Zaf Thanos told the ABC. “It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime discovery.”
While the Beta Hunt mine is owned by Canadian company Royal Nickel Corporation, the historic find can largely be chalked up to the efforts of local miner Henry Dole, who planted explosives in the mine wall and blew the quartz shelf wide open.
“There was just gold everywhere, as far as you could see,” he recalled. “I’ve been an airleg miner here for 16 years. Never in my life have I ever seen anything like this.”
Security around the mine has tightened significantly since the discovery. Armed guards are transporting the gold into a vault, padlocked fences have been erected around the lucrative area of the mine where the nuggets were found and workers are being placed under constant video surveillance.
It is thought that a mere handful of gold-encrusted rocks could be worth several thousand dollars.