Toronto mining company hits $15M worth of gold — in rare Australian nickel mine find

When Mark Selby received an email in the middle of the night that his mining company had struck what may be the two largest gold nuggets ever discovered, he was shocked.

RNC Minerals — 1st company to mine for gold at site — discovers what may be the 2 largest gold nuggets ever

The two gold-encrusted stones were mined from a nickel mine. (Submitted by RNC Minerals)
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When Mark Selby received an email in the middle of the night that his mining company had struck what may be the two largest gold nuggets ever discovered, he was shocked.

"Needless to say, I didn't get back to bed last night," the president of the Toronto-based company RNC Minerals told As It Happens host Carol Off from Seoul, South Korea.  

On Sunday, RNC Minerals announced that over the past week approximately 9,250 ounces of gold has been extracted from Beta Hunt mine in Australia — worth about $15 million.

"We've made … we think one of the best gold discoveries in Western Australia," Selby said.  

Among the gold specimens were two gold-encrusted rocks, or "nuggets." The largest is 95 kilograms and contains approximately 2,440 ounces of gold.

The gold in the one nugget is worth $4 million.

Gold can be seen in the Beta Hunt mine. (RNC MInerals)

The second gold-encrusted rock is 63 kilograms and contains an estimated 1,620 ounces of gold. It's thought to be worth approximately $2.6 million.

Miners in Australia often only extract about two grams of gold per tonne of rock, Sam Spearing of the Western Australia School of Mines at Curtin University told the BBC. RNC Minerals said it had extracted 2,200 grams per tonne.  

The rocks, which are also made of quartz, were extracted about 500 metres from the surface in an area just three metres wide.

The entire haul, Selby said, was also extracted from a relatively small area.

"To give people context … out of about your living room, we pulled out $15 million worth of gold," he said.

'Once-in-a-lifetime discovery'

The senior geologist on the job, Zaf Thanos, told Australia's ABC News that it's usually only possible to see gold through a magnifying glass in most mines.

"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.

What's even more surprising about the discovery is the mine, located near the small mining town of Kambalda, has been used as a nickel mine since the 1970s. RNC Minerals is the first to mine for gold.

Mark Selby said the company will likely sell the gold specimens to collectors. (RNC Minerals)

The Canadian company's share prices have doubled since the discovery was announced.  

Australia has a royalty on any minerals found in the country, so the Australian government will receive 2.5 per cent of anything RNC Minerals makes.

Just the tip of the 'iceberg'

Selby said the large gold nuggets will be auctioned off to collectors, with the hope of making a couple extra million dollars for the company.

The rest of the gold has already been sent to the mint.  

As for what's next, Selby is confident there is more gold to be discovered as there are still a couple kilometres of the mine left to search.

"We hope there's a very big iceberg underneath that tip," he said  

Written by Sarah Jackson. Interview with Mark Selby produced by Richard Raycraft.