The exploration was made last week at the Beta Hunt mine, nearly 400 miles away from the West Australian capital of Perth. “I’ve been an airleg miner for 16 years. Never in my life have I ever seen anything like this. There were chunks of gold in the face, on the ground, truly unique I reckon. I nearly fell over looking at it…we were picking it up for hours,” said Henry Dole, the miner who found the precious metal, according to Australia’s ABC News.
Geologist Zaf Thanos told the news outlet that the discovery was unique because gold that is discovered by mines around the world is usually only visible under a microscope.
“As a geologist, like I said, you get excited by a pinhead speck. But to see something on this scale is just phenomenal,” Thanos said.
The gold was coated on rocks made up of quartz. The largest weighed 210 pounds and held more than 2,400 ounces of gold, with a value of a little over $3 million. A second, weighing 139 pounds, contained 1,600 ounces of gold and is valued at nearly $2 million. The stones were found 546 yards beneath the ground in a space that was just over three yards wide and three yards high.
“People do still record finding nuggets in the goldfields, but typically they are less than several ounces. Very, very seldom do we see results on that level. This is an exceedingly rare find and very exciting,” said Professor Sam Spearing, the director of the Western Australia School of Mines at Curtin University, according to the BBC. Spearing said that miners in Australia usually get as little as two grams of gold for every ton of rock that is mined. Last week’s treasure yielded 2,200 grams of gold per ton.
The largest specimen of gold to ever be found weighed 628 pounds and was discovered in Australia’s New South Wales in 1872. Along with the discovery of a museum-grade specimen two years ago,1,500 ounces of gold was extracted from the same area where last week’s discovery was made at the Beta Hunt mine.
Since the excavation of the gold specimen, security at the Canadian-owned mine has grown substantially, and workers are being watched by security cameras. Workers said that bags of gold were buried long ago by those who came before them in hopes of rising prices, but last week’s discovery has been transported by armed guards who have been storing the gold in a vault.
The owner of the mine, which was mainly used to extract nickel, said that the stones would be auctioned off as collector items.
“We’re really looking forward to auctioning the keystones off over the coming weeks. There’s a pretty select group of collectors who this would appeal to. When you look at the nuggets, which are a solid piece of gold, the biggest are around 2,000 ounces, so this is right up there in terms of the largest specimens we’ve ever seen,” said RNC Minerals President Mark Selby.