The new gold rush
Soaring gold prices have spurred a fresh gold rush, with fortune hunters flocking to old Pilbara goldfields near Nullagine and Marble Bar in recent times.
Gold prices have risen more than 25 per cent since January.
In tandem, the number of prospectors with hand-held metal detectors perusing the region has risen “big time” according to Pilbara Prospectors Association president Kevin Danks.
But he said increasing difficulty acquiring land was causing strife for prospectors in the region.
“What’s happening now is that it is very hard to get land -much of it is pegged nowadays.
“People are going onto leases detecting on land owned by somebody.
“They come all the way here, they go detecting and someone says ‘hey, get off- that’s my ground. It gets nasty.”
Mr Danks said improving metal detector technology meant prospectors these days were going very deep on small nuggets, and explorers were seeing the start of ‘a bit of a drought’.
“They’re not finding a lot of gold at the moment because it has been hammered-It’s really been hammered.
“With the gold price going up, if you’re a pensioner, or retired, you get a metal detector for five grand and you’ve got a $ 100 000 worth of caravan and car already, you find a couple of ounces and it’s paid for.”
Mr Danks said with gold harder to find prospectors weren’t to be seen as much in the caravan parks anymore, but roughing it ever deeper into the bush.
“I flew out of Marble Bar a little while back and looking down I’ve seen vehicles hidden way out, at areas I don’t know you could drive out to,” he said.
He said still nuggets were coming out of the ground as detectors get better.
“Now they’re detecting down to point one or point two of a gram.”
30 years ago Mr Danks found a fairly solid nugget that was over 20 ounces on his lease.
The biggest he’s ever found in the region, way back when, was a specimen with 57 ounces of gold in it
“There’s going to be a lot more prospectors around now,” he predicted.
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