Miners Hit the Mother Lode In Western Australia
The big gold rush of Australia in the 1800s was spurred on by the discovery of gold nuggets. The stories that people told about how there are gold nuggets strewn all over Western Australia drew many prospectors from all over the world. Everyone wanted to make their fortunes and many did. But the small prospectors and miners were soon shoved out by mining companies who took the gold rush to another level by opening actual dig sites and getting the gold from the belly of the earth. The odds of stumbling upon a gold nugget with a metal detector and shovel have become slim, but this does not mean there isn’t gold to be discovered. Just a few months ago, the Australian gold industry was rocked by the discovery of a seam rich with gold-bearing rocks in the little-known town of Kambalda in Western Australia.
Gold miners are calling this the Australian “mother lode” – the biggest discovery this century? Kambalda has been a mining town for some time now, but things were starting to look bleak. The mining company on which this important find was made, RNC was on the verge of being sold. Jobs had been dwindling and Kambalda would have decayed and relegated to history like those old ghost gold towns you see in movies. Now gold buyers are interested in Kambalda and what could still be found there.
The discovery of this mother lode at the Beta Hunt mine can be chalked up to local miner, Henry Dole planting explosives in the right place. The 16 year airleg veteran was astounded by the find, he had never seen a find quite like this. He was not expecting to hit a “bonanza zone” with gold-encrusted boulders as big as 95kg. They lifted big nuggets weighing 95 kg, which contained 2,300 ounces of gold, a 63 kilogram boulder containing about 1,600 ounces of gold. The 95kg piece alone took three men to lift. It is estimated to be worth $3.8 million, while the 63-kilo is estimated to be worth $2.6 million. The incredible thing is that all of this gold was found within one square metre of rock, which means there is more gold to be found. Anyone who has ever found a big hunk of gold in a rock knows how rare that is. Most miners hope for a thumbnail sized gold.
The largest solid mass or nugget of gold ever found in Western Australia is The Golden Eagle Nugget. It is believed that it triggered a second gold rush to the are in 1931. James Joseph Larcombe and his son went to work on an area that had previously been abandoned and deemed “useless”. Then James Jnr hit upon a bird shaped nugget that weighed 32,200 grams and needed two strong men to lift it off the ground. The father/son duo sold their nugget to the government for £5,438 which is would be about $2 million in today’s terms.
Because of the amount of gold in the rock, the nugget was melted down and refined as most gold nuggets found in the late 1800s and mid-1900s. It would have been worth more for a collector to keep it intact, but that unfortunately moat gold buyers buy gold only to have it melted. There is a replica of the nugget that can be found at the Rock and Mineral Museum in Kalgoorlie.
Western Australia is considered to be the richest gold mining areas in the world. This find has revived the mine and the town. Prospectors are now coming to the area to look for gold nuggets with their metal detectors.