Australian Miners Just Discovered Two Rocks That Experts Estimate Are Worth Millions Of Dollars

The discovery of two rocks by a miner from Western Australia could be about to transform many lives. In September 2018 Henry Dole drilled some holes in the sides of the 1,640-foot-deep shaft, inserted some explosive charges, ascended to the surface and detonated them. Then he ended his shift. The next day, he returned and began washing away the dust. It was then that he laid eyes on them…

Of course, the promise of mineral wealth has fueled mining booms for centuries. In fact, the world’s first recorded gold and silver rushes took place near Athens in ancient Greece more than 2,000 years ago. However, it was not until the industrial revolution, the invention of modern machinery, the advent of mass production and the maturation of international trade that mining took off as a global economic activity.

The volatility of international markets means that mining is a precarious endeavor. Indeed, the multitude of abandoned mining towns in the United States attest to the inherent boom-and-bust nature of the extraction industries. And in Australia, the declining value of iron ore and other metallic resources have hit mining towns hard in recent years – effectively ending a period of rapid growth that began more than two decades ago.

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In Western Australia, where extraction industries contributed 41% of national income in 2015-16, mining declined by 12 percent between 2014 and 2015. Nonetheless, the industry is more than twice as valuable as it was a decade ago, with iron ore, gold, nickel, alumina, copper, zinc, lead, cobalt and diamonds all mined in the state.

Kambalda, where the rocks were found, is a Western Australian mining town 383 miles east of the city of Perth. It was founded in 1896 after gold was struck in its semi-arid environs. Its initial boom was brief, however, and by 1907 the settlement had been abandoned. Then, in the mid-1960s, the town was resurrected after large nickel deposits were discovered in the vicinity. In fact, nickel mining has been supporting Kambalda ever since.

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However, in 2009 a fall in international nickel prices caused the Western Australian nickel industry to shed more than 50 percent of its value. Consequently, many of the region’s mines have closed since that year – including several in Kambalda. Even today nickel mining remains a tenuous prospect.

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So much so that one of the oldest pits in town, Beta Hunt Mine, which has been operating since the 1970s, was recently put up for sale by RNC Minerals. RNC is a Canadian company with assets in Canada, the United States and Australia. It owns 100 percent of Beta Hunt Mine, but now, after Henry Dole’s discovery, it may be reconsidering the wisdom of selling it.

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“I’ve been an airleg miner for 16 years. Never in my life have I ever seen anything like this,” Dole said to ABC News in September 2018. “Everything was covered in dust, and as I watered the dirt down there was just gold everywhere, as far as you could see… chunks of gold in the face, on the ground… we were picking it up for hours.”

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The gold included an enormous “specimen stone” that required three men to heave onto a truck. The stone weighs around 210 pounds and consists of quartz fused with gold. In fact, the total gold content of the stone is a whopping 2,440 ounces. A second specimen stone recovered from the site is believed to contain around 1,620 ounces of gold. Dole called the find the “mother lode.”

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Indeed, according to Mark Selby, the president of RNC, the specimens are among the biggest ever found. “When you look at nuggets, which are a solid piece of gold, the biggest are around 2,000 ounces,” he told ABC News. “So this is right up there in terms of the largest specimens we’ve ever seen.”

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Geologist Zaf Thanos agreed. “You might go your whole life and you’ll never see anything like it. It’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime discovery,” he said to ABC News. “To see something on this scale is just phenomenal… This sort of bonanza zone is incredibly unique.”

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Indeed, the specimen stones are not only exceptionally rare but also exceedingly valuable. In fact, the value of the large rock is estimated to be around $2.74 million. The smaller rock is thought to be worth $1.87 million.

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However, this may not be the first time that Beta Hunt has produced a large quantity of gold. According to local lore, workers discovered other bonanzas back when the mine was just beginning. Low gold prices at the time meant that the finds were generally ignored, but some miners were rumored to have buried stashes in case prices rose in the future.

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Due to the value of the rocks, RNC has now increased its security at the mine. The miners are being closely watched by CCTV cameras, and the shaft has been cordoned off and secured with a lock. The gold itself is being kept in a vault, and its transportation is being conducted under the protection of armed guards. The company now intends to auction the specimen stones.

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“Given the rarity of the rock, and the physical beauty and presentation of the gold that’s there, it’s a very spectacular stone in multiple ways. So we’ll see whether 20, 30 or even 50 per cent premiums apply here,” Selby told ABC News. “We’re really looking forward to auctioning the key stones off over the coming weeks… There’s a pretty select group of collectors who this would appeal to.”

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Meanwhile, it is unclear whether the mine will now be sold. “When we started the sale process it wasn’t because we don’t like the asset,” said Selby. “We always believed that it had the potential to become a multi-hundred-thousand-ounce mine, [but] we just weren’t able to raise the capital required to do the exploration drilling.”

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However, that sale process now appears to have been put on hold. “Given the significance of this discovery to the exploration potential and value of Beta Hunt, RNC has decided to consider all alternatives, including a sale,” said RNC in a statement.

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Whatever the company decides to do next, the bonanza has been a boon for its shareholders. According to mining.com, a website specializing in global mining news, RNC’s shares “were off to the races” following the discovery. In fact, shares climbed by 80 percent when trading opened in Toronto on September 10.

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And the community of Kambalda, too, could be a big winner. “It’s no secret we were looking down the barrel for a while, but with this, it’s picked everyone’s morale up,” Dole told ABC News. “It’s good for the town, the mine life, all of that. I truly believe there’s something bigger and better down there… I reckon we’re just on the fringe of it… and if we get deeper, I reckon we’ll find more.”

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Indeed, on September 16 RNC announced the discovery of yet another specimen stone. Weighing 95 pounds, the $1.3 million stone contains approximately 1,100 ounces of gold. With any luck, then, Kambalda may be set for boom times.

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