A Gold Digger Bought A $10,000 Metal Detector – But Then Found A Nugget Worth A Mind-boggling Sum

Image: Minelab via Mining.com

Somewhere in the Australian outback, a prospector is searching for mineral wealth, when his state-of-the-art metal detector indicates the presence of a metallic object buried in the ground. The prospector, however, isn’t too hopeful. As he starts digging, the last thing he expects to unearth is precious hunk of gold ore…

Image: YouTube/Aussie Bloke Prospector

Nonetheless, that’s what this prospector found in August 2016. He had stumbled across an enormous gold nugget, which he decided to name Friday’s Joy. “I thought it was rubbish at first, maybe an old horseshoe,” the man told Minelab, the manufacturer of the metal detector. “About 12 inches below the ground, I could just barely make out the top of something.”

Image: Minelab via Mining.com

But as he dug into the ground, he soon realized it was no horseshoe. “I really couldn’t believe my eyes,” he recalled to Minelab. “This wasn’t an old piece of steel in front of me. I had just unearthed a colossal gold nugget – a once-in-a-lifetime find! I was in total disbelief as I didn’t think nuggets of this size were still around.”

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Image: via Historical Association

Of course, people have been seeking gold for thousands of years, partly because of its comparative scarcity. The world’s oldest gold relics date to at least 4200 BCE and were discovered in Buglaria’s Varna Necropolis. And since the dawn of human society, an estimated 209,000 tons (6.1 billion troy ounces) of gold have been extracted from the earth.

Image: via imgur

The discovery of large gold deposits often sparks a rush of immigrants looking to strike it rich. Gold rushes are known to have occurred in Ancient Rome, and possibly even in Ancient Egypt. But more recently, the California gold rush helped to forge the culture and identity of the North American frontier. South Africa, Canada, Brazil and Australia, have all experienced transformative gold rushes.

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Indeed, Australia continues to mine huge amounts of gold. In 2016 it exported approximately $13 billion-worth of it. With its first gold strikes dating to the mid-19th century, the state of Victoria in southeastern Australia has long been a lucrative mining hub. In fact, some 2,400 tonnes of gold have been extracted from Victoria, representing 2 percent of the world’s total.

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Image: Visit Victoria

Friday’s Joy was found in an area that had been previously scoured and searched by gold prospectors. Located in Central Victoria, the area is known as the Golden Triangle, and it includes historical mining towns such as Bendingo and Ballarat. The nugget was unearthed at a spot near the triangle’s south edge, which runs between the settlements of Avoca and Castlemaine.

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According to the Australian gold prospecting website, Finders Golden Pages, the area is renowned for its yields. “Victoria’s Golden Triangle region is [world-famous] for the purity, the large size, and the quantity of gold nuggets found,” says the site. “[It] is probably one of the most popular Victorian gold bearing areas to be frequented by today’s modern electronic prospectors.”

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Image: YouTube/goldnugget241

The prospector who discovered Friday’s Joy has chosen to keep his identity a secret. However, he told Minelab that he was a devoted hobbyist and had been hunting for gold for a decade. Furthermore, he was bound by oath to divide any sizable strikes with the friends he goes prospecting with.

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Image: Minelab

The prospector located the nugget using Minelab’s GPZ 7000 metal detector. According to the company’s website, this detector “[offers] the deepest ground penetration [and is] the most significant advancement in gold detecting technologies in years.”

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Image: Instagram/minelabdetecting

The GPZ 7000 retails for around $8,000, but for the lucky prospectors who hit the mother lode, the outlay is negligible. Indeed, one Australian prospector found a 95-ounce nugget called Fair Dinkum with a Minelab detector in 2015. He subsequently sold it for around $127,000, more than covering the cost of his equipment.

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Image: Minelab

In fact, the mystery prospector who found Friday’s Joy would have made his money back even before his big strike. On the previous day, he had found a different nugget buried around 2 feet under the earth. Shaped like a baseball, it weighed 9 ounces (or 8.2 troy ounces) and was valued at approximately $10,000.

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Image: Anatoli Lvov

However, that nugget is a trifle compared to the one he subsequently found. In fact, Friday’s Joy weighed 145 ounces – more than 16 times his initial find. Of course, that’s not even close to the world’s largest gold nugget, which was found in Victoria in 1869 and weighed 173 pounds. It is, however, still huge.

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Image: YouTube/nuggetnoggin

Indeed, the nugget is comparable with Cindy’s Pride, unearthed in 1985 and named after the dog of the prospector who discovered it. Cindy’s Pride weighed in at 174 ounces (159 troy ounces). It sold for around $66,000 and is today thought to be worth around $181,000. Friday’s Joy is expected to fetch a similar amount.

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Image: YouTube/Alexander Sidorov

Naturally, the prospector and his companions celebrated with a few beers before then scratching their heads over what to do next. “It’s like catching a big fish and not knowing what to do with it!” he told Minelab. “Where do we put it? I washed it in water, covered it in aluminium foil and kept it in my oven on the first night.”

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Image: Pursuitist

Since then, the nugget has been sensibly secured inside a bank vault. A facsimile of the find is currently being made and the prospector intends to sell Friday’s Joy at auction. Large, high-grade gold nuggets are considered collector’s items. They are, in fact, scarcer than diamonds.

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Image: Amanda Klamrowski

But it does not seem like the find is going to the prospector’s head. He has no intention to leave his job. Rather, he intends to acquire a sturdy van for the purposes of touring Australia. Naturally, he intends to do a fair share of prospecting, along with seeing the sights.

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Meanwhile, Fraser Kendall, Minelab’s director of regional sales and marketing, called the find “historic.” “We’re thrilled that a Minelab customer has made such an amazing and important discovery,” he said. “[He] was prospecting in an area that others had clearly worked over, and this just goes to show that there’s plenty of gold still coming out of Victoria.”

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Image: Rotary District

And according to Rita Bentley of the Prospectors and Miners Association, a voluntary organization committed to enhancing the rights of prospectors, the find has probably encouraged others to begin searching for gold in Victoria. “There’ll be a lot of detectors dusted off that have been sitting in cupboards,” she said. “I imagine there’ll be a mini gold rush going on.”

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Image: Australian Mining

Of course, most gold hunts are highly unlikely to yield nuggets as valuable as Friday’s Joy. However, with dedication and strategy, modest gains are quite possible. And in any case, the real prize is the thrill of the hunt.

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