Off and rushing: gold’s rise spurs amateur prospectors

| January 15, 2008 | 0 Comments
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Jill Stark
January 16, 2008

A MODERN-DAY gold rush has prompted amateur prospectors to dust off their metal detectors in the hope of striking it rich.
Lured by soaring world gold prices — which reached an all-time high of $US914 ($A1016) an ounce on Monday — many Victorians are searching for the nugget that could make their fortune.
The price of gold has surged as investors rush to snap up the yellow metal ahead of an expected cut in US interest rates. As the greenback continues to dwindle, gold prices have jumped 50% in the past year, with many investors seeing gold as a safe option in uncertain economic times. Last night the gold spot price stood at $US909.45, with the price boosting demand for gold stocks and listings.
Buoyed by the surge, people from all walks of life are joining the treasure hunt in the central Victorian goldfields, which first experienced a gold rush in the 1850s.
Brett Turner, who has panned for gold as a hobby for 17 years, says the number of new prospectors in central Victoria has increased in recent times.
"When I started, gold was about $300 an ounce, so there was no incentive to go out looking for it, and the people who used to do it were mainly people who like going out in the bush anyway.
"But nowadays, because of the price of the gold, you’ve got people comiProspector Brett Turner searches for gold with a metal detector in Dunolly, near Bendigo. "If you find a good spot, you keep it to yourself," he into it now who have no idea about anything in the bush. People who have worked in a clothing store all their life, businessmen, accountants who sit behind desks all day, they’re hearing about it and getting out and having a go."
Mr Turner says he finds it hard to compete with serious prospectors who invest thousands of dollars in state-of-the art equipment. On a good week he might find up to five grams of gold — worth about $150. It is a far cry from the Welcome Stranger nugget, which weighed in at more 2300 ounces when it was unearthed in shallow ground at Moliagul, west of Bendigo, in 1869.
These days, like then, a fertile spot does not remain a secret for long.
"As soon as people hear about gold being found somewhere, they just rush it, just like the old days," Mr Turner said. "If you find a good spot, you keep it to yourself."
Rita Bentley, president of the Prospectors and Miners Association, said patience was the key to gold panning. "If we all knew where the gold was and it was that easy, none of us would be working for a living. Treat it as a hobby, not with the intention of striking it rich. Just appreciate the surroundings of our great Victorian bush(."


(Photo Caption)
Prospector Brett Turner searches for gold with a metal detector in Dunolly, near Bendigo. "If you find a good spot, you keep it to yourself," he said.
Photo: Paul Rovere



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Category: Gold

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