MINERS hope three gold nuggets a prospector has found could be the key to an exhaustive exploration near Castlemaine in the Goldfields region of Victoria near Bendigo.
Kalamazoo Resources has been exploring for undiscovered riches in the area and was recently approached by a prospector who revealed the location they found three beautiful pieces of the precious metal.
The prospector kept the nuggets.
It can be rare for prospectors to disclose the locations they find nuggets, making Kalamazoo even more thankful that one got in touch, exploration manager Luke Mortimer said.
"A lot of times the prospectors want to keep it to themselves because they don't want anyone else getting on to their patch," he said.
Dr Mortimer said he has worked with a number of other prospectors in the past and was always excited for those who found gold on the surface of Kalamazoo's exploration zones.
"We're after a mine, not a few nuggets," he said.
"Prospectors' finds, for us, bring more evidence that there is gold there. We don't discourage it and we like working with them."
Kalamazoo has permission to explore large tracts of land near Castlemaine for sites that could one day become mines.
It is difficult to get that far, though. Miners have a one in 660 chance of making a discovery that eventually leads to a mine, according to the Minerals Council of Australia.
Search strategies include everything from high tech modern mapping through to scouring old mining records.
That sort of research can then justify setting up surface rigs that drill exploration holes.
"It can be a little hit and miss. We are trying to find a one million ounce resource," Dr Mortimer said.
"There's plenty of gold around and we are getting some really good results from our drilling. But it's still a bit of an enigma."
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Now that Kalamazoo knows where nuggets have been found, it plans to send in experts to survey the area and get soil samples.
No-one is able to say for sure why the nuggets lay undetected so close to the surface for so long.
"It's interesting in that the old timers have missed it even though they had shafts and alluvial workings nearby," Dr Mortimer said, referring to miners who have dug in the area since gold was discovered in central Victoria in the mid-19th century.
Those old timers didn't miss much, he said.
It is possible that an unrelated company's heavy machinery disturbed enough ground unearth the nuggets, Dr Mortimer said.
But he would not recommend anyone who thinks they might know the area in question from getting their hopes up about their own finds.
"The prospector told us about it once they had exhausted their search of the area," Dr Mortimer said.