20 Feb 2012

76oz of gold found in Ballarat Australia

metal detector find - 76oz gold nugget - aus

An Australian Minelab detectorist has made the exciting discovery of 76oz of gold in Ballarat, Victoria. Read the account of his discovery below.

Like most goldfield towns, Ballarat and its surrounds are still giving up their treasures to the prospector with a modern day Super Detector. It’s just become a bit harder to constantly find big gold nuggets and I’ve had to think differently about where and how I search for the big nuggets. This required a fair bit of thought and a lot of historical studies, in the field and in old documents.

One thing I got thinking about was all those deep hydraulically sluiced gullies around Ballarat, and when I went back in my research I found that most started off as a lead where the original miners sank relatively shallow shafts of 3 to 5 meters. After the leads were worked, the gutters and gullies were hydraulically sluiced where the rich auriferous gravels were processed in bulk, by company workers.

Ok, so when you look at some of these sluiced out gullies, you get the feeling that they took everything, but some of these gullies have secrets to reveal. Looking at them now, I got to thinking about what it must have been like back then. The noise, the water, the mud, the clay, the cold, and began to wonder just how effectively the paid workers did their jobs. Given the huge amount of water, it would have been hard for the workers to see all of the larger gold and specimens and as they worked, the ground behind them must have been pretty soggy.

I began to notice things I hadn’t recognised as important before. It became evident to me that I could just see depressions where old miners holes were, from before the sluicing. This was an interesting observation. What if the paid workers from the sluicing days couldn’t actually follow the ‘bottom’ or there were ‘yabby holes’ where the big gold became hidden. With my trusty Minelab detector I started working some of these gullies, paying great attention to the depressions where I could just make out old miners shafts.

Talk about junk!!! I dug truck loads of it, but was encouraged by some nice pieces down deeper than I normally worked. Nuggets under the junk! Nuggets left behind in small, and large crevices that the ‘sluices’ missed. Over a period of time, I realised that this was a more profitable way of ‘working’ than swinging the paddocks and hillsides.

Not long back I had a target that sounded like metal, and it was deep. It was a really hot day and I almost talked myself out of digging the target. Then I realised that if I didn’t dig holes for deep targets then I was not ‘working’, so I dug.

The sound on my external hip mounted speaker got noticeably ‘better’. I widened up the hole, so I could swing the coil. Good looking material… Hard work digging… The sound just kept on getting better. At about 45cm depth the ground was still looking great and the target was still down ‘there’ in the bottom. I half heartedly hoped it might be gold, and so widened the hole so as not to ‘bruise it’.
At about 90cm the target was roaring through the speaker. I was working what seemed like a decent crevice over a short area.

With a big area open that I could stand and dig in, I got stressed about getting a small dinner plate quartz rock out of the way so I could dig behind it. The hole was now 1.3 meters deep.

The rock loosened in the clay, and I bent over to pick it up and throw it out. As soon as my fingers wrapped around the rock I knew it was way heavier than just stone. Clay stuck all over it, and when I rubbed some of it away, I got my first glimpse of gold. Whoo Hoo!!! It was also really evident that most of the gold was inside and to one side. I lugged it out of the hole and to some nearby water where I carefully set about working the clay off. The quartz was beautiful and white, the type of white that has never been exposed to daylight, and the gold was poking out along and through it…

Trying not to be too excited I did the double hand juggle with the specimen and went “Yep it’s heavy”, maybe 20 to 50 ounces of gold. After fully checking out the hole it came from and only finding one 3 grammar, I tidied up and headed home to clean it up properly.

When cleaned and dried it weighed in at 156 ounces total, and on a proven specific gravity test it showed that the estimated gold content was about 76 ounces!!! Double Whoo Hoo!!!

By Oro Cazador (Caz)

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