Considering the prolonged, burdensome process involved in the entire process of gold extraction or mining, the phenomena of finding a large chunk of gold is undoubtedly noted as a major accomplishment by the mining fraternity. There's a lot of enthusiasm, excitement and joy immersed in the success of finding such huge gold deposits at the same time after undergoing through a sequence of strenuous and complex processes.
The quest of mankind for finding gold is ever-lasting and we have seen a plethora of operations undertaken by miners all around the world many of which, have attained considerable success. Thus, here is the story on extracting the largest gold nugget from the Earth's crust, however, before we proceed, following here's a brief on what gold nuggets are all about.
Gold Nuggets - A Brief
Gold nuggets are lumps or chunks of native gold which, are formed from clusters of gold crystals from very hot water in fissures and cracks of hard-rocks such as quartz. The watercourse mostly consists of gold nuggets and finer gold in placers and the nuggets are majorly recovered by using the process of placer mining. However, they are widely found in residual deposits as well where the gold-bearing lodes or veins are being drained out due to environmental exposure. The nuggets are also being found in the tailings piles of previous mining operations which, are being left by the gold mining dredges.
Gold nuggets are mostly being found in alluvial deposits (sediments which are being formed by water movements) and placer deposits (formed by various other movements). However, researchers have also found gold nuggets close to the primary gold deposits such as the gold veins or lodes which, have faced extreme weather exposure. 'Gold Nuggets' are also being extracted from the deposits of hard rock gold as long as the rocks present in the adjoining area can be removed.
An Overview on The Largest Gold Nugget in the World
Being founded in Australia during the year 1872, the Beyers and Holtermann Nugget has been recorded as the largest single chunk of gold ever discovered so far. However, it was not being actually categorized as a gold nugget since it remained as a part of the quartz vein from which it was formed and thus, it was rather considered as the source of gold or the mother lode.
Alike many ambitious gold miners, Richard Oates and James Deason achieved unparalleled success after discovering this massive gold lump, which has also been named as the 'Welcome Stranger' nugget. During February 1869, John Deason literally staggered upon this prodigious lump of gold nugget.
The 'Welcome Stranger' from the name itself, it can be comprehended that it was found accidentally and certainly, cannot be termed as an extremely difficult excavation. As the story revolves, Deason was actually searching gold near the roots of a tree where he came across a large hard chunk of something. After having a closer look, he observed that it was a massive-sized gold nugget. The next immediate thing which he did was; inform the same to his partner, Richard Oates and both started digging the ground further to extract their astounding find out. This gargantuan-sized nugget was fully extracted after digging around 3 centimeters.
Unfortunately, like most of the other huge gold nuggets, 'Welcome Stranger' did not succeed in remaining as a single mass for long. Generally, most of the prodigious gold nuggets being ever recovered were broken due to some kind of unavoidable reasons. Often, it becomes too challenging for the nuggets to be transported or being brought to the surface. Since it was situated few centimeters below the surface, the ' Welcome Stranger' nugget broke into few parts.
After the nugget was being excavated, the miners tried to weigh the treasure. However, on a surprising note, there was no specific scale as such for handling this type of colossal-sized chunk of gold and thus, it was broken down into 3 pieces. After these pieces were been weighed, they were further melted into ingots and transported to the Bank of England. Alike most ancient gold treasures, these pieces have been melted and recasted for innumerous times since it has been discovered. Thus, it can be concluded that the gold extracted from the 'Welcome Stranger' nugget is present in various parts of the world and has been used extensively by now.
All the nugget's pieces are weighed to be a total of 2520 troy ounces at gross and 2284 troy ounces when trimmed. A replica of the 'Welcome Stranger' is being displayed at the City Museum of Melbourne, Australia. There is a miniature obelisk situated in Bulldog Gully in Central Victoria, where this massive-sized nugget was excavated in 1869.
John Deason almost dedicated his life to the gold mining industry and alike the life stories many other renowned miners, his luck didn't support him all the time. Resultantly, he lost a considerable amount of his wealth by making unprofitable gold mining investments. On the contrary, Richard Oates led a comparatively simpler, conventional life. After unearthing the 'Welcome Stranger', he returned to the UK, his native nation and got married. Later, he returned to Australia with his better-half and purchased a farm, where he worked dedicatedly until his death.
Some of the other world-renowned gold nuggets being found in different regions across the globe are Pepita Canaa in Brazil, The Great Triangle in Russia, Hand of Faith in Australia, Normandy Nugget in Australia and Ironstone's Crown Jewel in California.
Gold certainly boasts an unparalleled foothold in the commodity market. Moreover, with the deployment of wearable technologies, autonomous vehicles, IoT, drones, we can certainly say that we should not lose hope and a day might come when something more prodigious, more astonishing and more valuable will be discovered in the arena of gold mining.