Developing

Gold Find: Novice Prospector Earns Big Bucks

An amateur gold prospector has made the find of a lifetime in southern Australia, unearthing a nugget worth almost £200,000.

The Y-shaped nugget, which weighed five kilograms or 117 ounces (11 lbs), was discovered by an unidentified man armed only with a hand-held metal detector just outside the 'gold rush' town of Ballarat 65 miles from Melbourne.

The find, made on Wednesday, was confirmed by Cordell Kent, owner of the town's Mining Exchange Gold Shop.

"A lot of people think Victoria's goldfields are dead and that there's none left, but he (the prospector) has worked in an area where a lot of people have worked in the past but he persisted and he's been rewarded."

Mr Kent confirmed he was looking for a buyer for the nugget, which he said was among the biggest he had seen in 20 years in the gold business.

"We have 800 prospectors on our books and only a couple of those have ever found a nugget over 100 ounces," he said, adding that the sum total of his own finds was little more than 100 ounces.

Analysts say that while the finder, who wished to remain anonymous, would expect to fetch a market price of £197,000, that could well be a low estimate given the rare nature of the find.

Ballarat and its surroundings were a key site in Australia's gold rush in the mid-1800s, which brought a flood of migrants and transformed the economy.

Locals are expecting renewed interest in the area despite the remote chance that such a discovery will be repeated.