Chinese Herdsman Trips Over 17lb Gold Nugget

By @ibtimesau on
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Gold mine workers wait to get their raw gold weighed at a gold shop in the town of Al-Fahir in North Darfur September 24, 2013. Picture taken September 24, 2013. To match Special Report SUDAN-DARFUR/GOLD REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah

It was perhaps a fine day similar to the sceneries depicted in story books when all of a sudden Berek Sawut, a Kazak herdsman, from the Qinghe County in Altay Prefecture in China tripped on a whopping 17-pound gold nugget.

The massive gold nugget measured 23 centimetres long, 18 centimetres on its widest side and 8 centimetres at its thickest, Chinese news agency Xinhua said. It was shaped like China. Sawut was resting near a mine when he found the nugget in January.

A report by the China News Agency described the nugget as natural gold ore mixed with quartz and other minerals. Such type of nugget is usually called “dog head gold” by the locals because they come in rough, round shapes, which, upon closer inspection, yield the eyes and nose of a dog. The media outfit added the Altay area usually abound with these kinds of nuggets, sometimes also called “horseshoe gold.”

The 17-pound gold nugget, at prevailing exchange rates, is priced to reach 1.6 million yuan (AU$330,023). It could fetch higher since gold nuggets are usually 80 percent to 90 percent pure, Xinhua said.

Modern Express, a newspaper owned by Xinhua, said the nugget found in Qinghe County is by far the largest of its kind discovered in Xinjiang. The region has over 600 gold mines, portal sinosphere.com said. Its gold reserves is estimated to be at 207 tonnes. Last year, Xinjiang produced 20 tonnes of gold.

Sawut is concerned the state might take from him the nugget, because the residents are made to understand that all the ore from the mines belong to the state. So far, no government official has come to Sawut to claim the gold chunk. China is now regarded as the world's biggest gold producer for the eighth consecutive year.

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