An Australian prospector using a handheld metal detector hit the mother lode Wednesday, unearthing a gold nugget weighing 177 ounces, or more than 11 pounds.
The individual, who did not want to be identified, was searching for gold in the Australian state of Victoria when he found the nugget, valued at more than $300,000.
Using a state-of-the-art metal detector, the prospector located the nugget about two feet below the surface in an area which had been searched many times in the past, according to the BBC.
The Y-shaped nugget, 8.7 inches long and 5.5 inches wide, was found near the country town of Ballarat and in an area known as the “Golden Triangle” due to its rich veins which sparked a gold rush in the 1850s, according to Reuters.
Ballarat Mining Exchange Gold Shop owner and dealer Cordell Kent said the prospector heard a faint noise on his detector and removed a dense pile of leaf mulch before he started digging, according to The Advertiser of Adelaide.
“He thought he had detected the (hood) of a car when he saw a glint of gold,” Kent said. “He cleaned the top of it and the gold kept expanding and expanding … he saw more and more gold … he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.”
Gold experts said prospectors have sought gold in the area for decades, but Wednesday’s find was by far the most significant, according to the BBC.
“I have been a prospector and dealer for two decades, and cannot remember the last time a nugget over 100 ounces has been found locally,” Kent said. “It’s extremely significant as a mineral specimen. We are 162 years into a gold rush and Ballarat is still producing nuggets – it’s unheard of.”
Gold is currently selling for close to $1,700 an ounce, but the nugget’s rarity and weight would add a premium, Kent said.
(Above: Ballarat gold dealer Cordell Kent with the 177-ounce gold nugget found Wednesday by an as-yet unidentified prospector in the Australian state of Victoria.)