Figure of the month: 72 kg
The largest gold nugget ever discovered weighs an impressive 72 kilograms (almost 159 pounds). The lucky gold diggers John Deason and Richard Oates called their find “Welcome Stranger” – a fitting name, considering its gold content of 2,316 troy ounces, currently valued at approximately €2.8 million. A gold nugget of this magnitude is extremely rare: the heaviest gold nugget ever discovered in Germany weighs a mere 10.2 grams (0.36 ounces). Just last May, an amateur geologist discovered the largest nugget ever found on British sea ground – it weighed in at 3.5 ounces. If we haven’t convinced you by now that the Australian 72 kilogram nugget is truly extraordinary, consider this: statistically, our planet Earth contains a mere 4 grams (0.14 ounces) of gold per 1000 tonnes of rock.
A nugget is generally defined as a discovery that developed naturally, with a very high degree of purity. Australian Nuggets frequently have a purity degree of at least 95 per cent. They develop through erosion of gold-carrying mineral veins which originated as fissures within a mass of rock that over time filled with aqueous minerals and then slowly crystallised.
Based on its research data, the US Geologiocal Society assumes that only 51,000 tonnes of gold remain embedded undiscovered. By contrast, more than 170,000 tonnes of gold have already been mined in the course of the history of humankind. Considering these figures, it seems unlikely that a spectacular discovery is still possible. Our gold digging readers might be interested in the fact that today’s media only deem hefty discoveries of more than 5.5 kilograms (more than 12 pounds) newsworthy.