But there is some concern about whether the gold strike — expected to be worth around $50 million — is the tip of the iceberg, or just a lucky strike
Kevin Small knew something was up, which was why he was driving a pick-up truck into the dark abyss of an Australian underground mine, occasionally swerving into turnouts to dodge 55-ton trucks hauling giant loads of rock.
A team of his senior colleagues had summoned Small, head of Toronto-based RNC Minerals Corp.’s Beta Hunt Mine, for reasons they declined to share over the radio system that everyone in the mine used.
After 15 minutes, he arrived at his destination, about 500 metres below the surface. Three colleagues, already on the scene, stood marvelling at a rock face that had been blasted open. Huge ribbons of gold streaked the surface and there was more gold lying on the floor than the entire mine had produced in months.
Small saw a wedge of gold leaf nearly an inch thick, dangling from the rock face and yanked on it. “At first, it wouldn’t budge, but slowly you start to bend it and it came off in my hand,” he said. “It was like a plate of gold. I couldn’t believe it was that thick. Normally you don’t see gold getting that thick.”
He looked down and realized he was standing on a large gold stone, and that there were coarse bits of gold and boulders strewn everywhere. Regardless of any future payout — and there will be one — the discovery has already changed the trajectory of the company that up to then was primarily a struggling nickel miner.