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Victoria, Australia - April 24, 2007: A gold miner in Victoria, Australia goes through a hole with his metal detector to fine-tune his search and find a gold nugget reported by his machine.Victoria, Australia - April 24, 2007: A gold miner in Victoria, Australia goes through a hole with his metal detector to fine-tune his search and find a gold nugget reported by his machine.

Victoria, Australia – April 24, 2007: A gold prospector in Victoria, Australia and his metal detector. Photo: Getty Images (Gilles_Paire via Getty Images)

An Australian gold miner couldn’t believe his ears when experts told him the huge “dirty rock” he found during his latest round of prospecting was actually a nugget worth $160,000.

Armed with a metal detector that cost only $800, which is considered cheap among professional detectorists, the man discovered a stone weighing 4.6 kilograms, covered with dust and dirt. He got it thinking it had some potential and estimated it could be worth at least $12,000.

His surprise was monumental when he took it to Lucky Strike Gold for evaluation late last year. “He pulled out this stone and dropped it into my hand and said, ‘Do you think it’s worth A$10,000?’ — store owner Darren Camp told the BBC. This is about 6700 US dollars.

“I looked at him and said, ‘You mean A$100,000?’ — he told about his meeting with an amateur searcher who wished to remain anonymous. Kamp was even more surprised when his client told him he only took part of the stone.

The stone was too dirty so whoever found it couldn’t clearly see the gold on the outside, so he broke it in half because he thought there would be a nugget inside. After the stone was cleaned, “you could see gold coming out of the stone all over the place,” Kamp said.

Image of “gold stone” posted by Lucky Strike Gold on Facebook.

The biggest nugget in a 43-year career

More than half of the 4.6kg stone contained precious metal worth A$240,000, or US$160,000. A man has made a major find in the Victorian goldfields, which were the center of Australia’s gold rush in the 19th century.

Kamp, who appraised and purchased the piece, assured the BBC it was the “largest” nugget he had seen in his 43-year career. “My jaw dropped… This is a once-in-a-lifetime find.”

The prospector wasn’t expecting much when he saw his customer carrying a huge backpack walk into his store in Geelong, about an hour’s drive south-west of Melbourne. “Usually people come in with fake gold or other stones that look like gold but aren’t,” he explained.

Kamp called him “The Nugget of a Lucky Shot” (Lucky Strike Nuggets) and noted that it was found in the low-budget model of the Minelab Equinox brand. “It shows that an $800 machine can find gold.”

In fact, his store has seen an increase in metal detector sales in recent months, likely because interest rates in Australia are also rising and people are looking for new ways to supplement their income.

In early March, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) raised interest rates for the tenth time in a row to 3.6%, the highest level of the central bank’s benchmark interest rate since May 2012.

Gold climbed back above the key $2,000 level. In spot trading, the precious metal rose 0.8% to $2,005.79 an ounce, while US gold futures rose 0.8% to $2,019.00.

“You only need two gold bars.”

The largest gold sample Kamp found weighed 24 ounces and would now be worth about A$70,000 ($46,753). He said that about 10 years ago, a friend of his found a 600-ounce gold nugget.

One gram (0.035 ounce) of gold currently costs around AUD 94 (USD 63). “It’s worth looking for,” Kamp said. “You only need two little pieces, and that’s essentially $200 (Australian) dollars.”

In 2020, South Australian gold miners discovered two huge nuggets worth A$350,000 ($250,000) from historic gold mines. In 2013, an amateur researcher discovered a stone worth at least $300,000.

The discovery of rich gold deposits in the Ballarat and Bendigo regions of Victoria in 1851 led to a series of gold rushes in Australia in the 1850s. The largest ever found was the “Holtermann Nugget”, which weighed more than 90 kilograms.

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