​17-Pound Gold Nugget: Man In China Finds Nugget Laying in Yard

17-Pound Gold Nugget
Author: Kara GilmourBy:
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Feb, 7, 2015 | 10:17 AM

A 17-pound gold nugget was found by a Chinese herder as he was doing chores around his house. It’s a remarkable find that measures 9 inches in length, 7 inches wide, and 3 inches thick. It has attracted many visitors to his house, according to Market Watch.

“The odds of such a thing happening, of course, are not as rare as, say, finding 1,400 rare U.S. gold coins practically in your backyard,” Market Watch reports.

A herdsman in China’s far western Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region said the gold nugget was “practically lying on bare ground.”

Berek Sawut, from Qinghe County in Altay Prefecture made the extraordinary discovery around 5 p.m. last Friday. The estimated price for such an unexpected luck, assuming the nugget is 80 percent pure (Nuggets are usually 80 to 90 percent pure), is $255,313 based on latest gold price, notes News Max.

Zhu Xinfeng, a local expert said the price of natural gold, considering its uniqueness, is often several times higher than that of standard gold.

According to Sinosphere, Sawut wasn’t sure if he was allowed to keep his golden discovery and was afraid to report it.

“The herder said he was worried he would not be able to keep it, because he believed that all ore from mines in the area belonged to the state, but so far no government official has demanded that he hand over his find,” Sinosphere said.

The best areas for finding gold nuggets are those which are known for producing coarse gold. The term “coarse” is used to describe gold pieces which range in size from a wheat grain to many grams. Scanning with a metal detector is the most common, practical method for finding gold nuggets and other forms of gold.

Coarse gold did not occur in all gold fields, even when some were considered especially rich. In some areas of Australia the gold is fine and concentrated in crevices in bedrock and any gravel wash overlying this. A metal detector cannot pick up this fine gold sprinkled through sand and gravel, nor can it detect minute traces of gold still enclosed in quartz reef material.

Miners were supposed to register the weight and location of all gold nuggets found over a certain size, although this requirement was often resented by the diggers who probably avoided the directive whenever possible.

There were usually several phases of activity for finding gold nuggets on an alluvial (gold) field. Following the initial discovery, the area was ‘rushed’ by diggers from near and then far. These early arrivals would work with great speed, sinking hundreds or even thousands of shafts as long as possible to the place of the first finds. Sometimes only a small proportion of shafts dug would produce gold nuggets or any other gold. Those which did indicated the direction of the rich lead, or perhaps the reef from which the material was shed.

Hundreds of holes were sunk by pick and shovel until gold yields dropped or lack of water made it impossible to remain on the field. When either or both of these things happened, the digger population packed its meager possessions and ‘rushed’ to the next discovery.

Following the first rush to the nuggety areas where men worked with feverish speed, there were those with some skill and better equipment. They searched for the reefs, the sources of the alluvial gold. Some built puddlers and with a horse and water they processed gold wash for themselves and others. Some puddlers were built after the rush to reprocess the mullock heaps abandoned on the field.

The Californians in particular were skilled at building dams, diverting streams and building sluices. They had a better water supply to process the wash and feed the crushers that separated the quartz or slate from the gold and broke up the conglomerate.

The Chinese introduced an effective method of processing large tracts of especially rich ground. They “surfaced” or stripped all of the soil and rock above bedrock and carted it to a puddler to be washed. A “surfaced” area indicates that once the ground was particularly rich.

The largest nuggets found were usually laying just beneath the surface. The Welcome Stranger, the largest gold nugget ever found, was lying only inches from the surface at Moliagul, Australia. Legend has it that the top was exposed by the wheel track made by a cart. Some of the first discoveries made in each area were large nuggets lying on the top of the ground.

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