RNC reveals plans for historic $6.8m gold find

Two massive gold-bearing quartz specimens unveiled by Royal Nickel Corporation (RNC) at the Precious Metals Investment Symposium 2018 last week have attracted comment from industry experts.

The two stones were discovered last month by Canadian explorer RNC at the historic Beta Hunt gold-nickel mine near Kambalda, Western Australia, as part of a widely-reported 30,000 ounce (oz), $15 million underground haul.

RNC purchased the asset as part of its acquisition of Beta Hunt operator Salt Lake Mining (SLM) in the first quarter of 2016, signifying the previously nicked-focused RNC’s diversification into the gold market.

The larger of the two gold-bearing stones weighs 95kg and contains an estimated 2440 oz of gold while the smaller of the two weighs 63kg and contains an estimated 1620oz of gold for a combined worth of nearly $US5 million ($6.8 million).

The specimens have attracted interest from collectors and museums. Speaking at the unveiling in Perth, RNC president and chief executive officer Mark Selby said the company intended to take the nuggets on an overseas tour once permission is received from the Australian Government.

An auction is then set to follow sometime in the first quarter of 2019. The find is potentially transformative for Beta Hunt, according to Selby.

“We always believed in the exploration potential of the asset [Beta Hunt],” he said at the conference.

“When we acquired it just over two years ago, the things that attracted us was all the nickel drilling— there was almost 700km of drilling done over 40 years — it basically highlighted the top of these gold deposits across 4km. That’s a very, very big set of gold structures.

“We always thought it had the potential to be a big deposit, we just didn’t have the capital to drill it properly.

“Obviously with 30,000oz hitting the bank account over the next few weeks, we will have more than enough capital to drill what we think will be a very big gold mine that will last for many years in the Kambalda region.”

According to Sandra Close of Melbourne-based gold mining consultant, Surbiton Associates, the larger of the stones is “the biggest, most valuable, natural mass of gold existing today”.

She suggested that due to the historical value of the finds they should be purchased by the Commonwealth or Western Australian Government for permanent display.

“Few Australians realise that Australia is currently the world’s second largest gold producer, with gold now being one of our single largest exports, worth around A$16 billion annually,” Close said.

“So exhibiting the specimens would also highlight gold mining’s important contribution to Australia today.”