An underground mine in WA's Goldfields has produced what is believed to be two of the biggest gold specimens in recorded history.
Since last weekend, RNC Minerals has seen a massive haul of single cut of rock blasted about 500m underground at the Beta Hunt gold mine near Kambalda.
The biggest stone weighed in at about 90kg and the company has estimated that it contains about 2300 ounces of gold, a total that at current prices, would be worth about $3.8 million.
The second-biggest stone wasn't worth much less, with it weighing in at around 60kg and an estimated 1600oz lodged within the quartz specimen, valued at about $2.7 million.
Early estimates from RNC have put the total take of coarse gold from the cut at more than 9000oz, or more than $15 million worth.
Airleg driller, Henry Dole, has been credited with the find and after 16 years in the industry, the Kambalda resident told Perth Now that he's never seen anything like it.
“I’ve seen it in veins in the face but nothing like this — this was just everywhere,” he said.
“As I was drilling it, you could see the gold shavings coming out of all the holes and I thought ‘there’s something here’.
“And then after we fired it and I came in the next day and washed it all down, it was just everywhere.
“It was unbelievable and I’ve never seen it before in my life.”
It took three people to lift the 90kg specimen onto a utility vehicle when it was found, so it could be brought to the surface for further inspection.
“That was virtually the next day after we fired it, we walked in there and you couldn’t miss it ... especially when you hit it with water, it just stuck out,” Mr Dole said.
“We shouldn’t have really lifted it, we should have used the bogger but we got it on the back of the ute.”
The Canadian-run RNC has the mine currently up for sale and RNC’s Toronto-based chief executive Mark Selby told Perth Now that this was a once-in-a-lifetime find that is extremely rare in modern mining.
“This is one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments where people find 2300oz and 1600oz chunks of gold,” he said.
“It’s generally an exciting moment, and given it’s been a tough slug for us at the mine, to make this kind of discovery just reinforces that we always knew this mine had potential.
“We’re going into a sales process to put it into hands to raise the capital to do this exploration, to find these areas we know are there, and hopefully retain some equity interest.
“But this discovery shows Beta Hunt has the potential to be a very large gold mine going forward.”
RNC’s Australian subsidiary Salt Lake Mining discovered a museum-grade specimen at Beta Hunt two years ago and two months ago, RNC pulled a whopping 1500oz of coarse gold from an area near last week’s find.
Salt Lake geology manager John Vinar told Perth Now that it's very unique to find gold in this form.
“I’m really lucky to be seeing this — it’s a rarity,” he said. “I don’t know of many other places that are able to deliver this type of material. We’ll target our drilling to see whether we can unearth more.
“We thought the HOF was the best thing but it only delivered about 1000oz, whereas this has eclipsed everything, so it’s beyond our wildest dreams to see that amount of gold come out.”