Breaking ground in the Pilbara
Taylar Amonini finds out just why the industry is becoming so popular again.
While a bit of gold prospecting on the weekend has never been new or unusual for Pilbara locals, companies have bypassed gold for iron ore — until now.
In the last three months gold discoveries have permeated the news and the hype is growing. But why is this happening? The
North West Telegraph went exploring to find out.
Despite gold being searched for in the Pilbara for more than 100 years, the recent rush was sparked when Canada’s Novo Resources began finding small watermelon seed-shaped gold nuggets at Artemis Resources’ Purdy’s Reward prospect.
In early August Artemis Resources, in partnership with Karratha prospector Will Scott, discovered 547g of nuggets worth more than $25,000. Since then explorers with neighbouring tenements have begun scouring their land for similar finds.
What makes these nuggets special over those found by your average Joe on the weekend is they are indicative of conglomerate-style gold mineralisation embedded in sedimentary rock — meaning the nuggets are embedded in rock similar to fossils. This type of nuggets have been found in the massive Witwatersrand Basin in South Africa — the worlds biggest known gold reserve producing 50 per cent of all the gold ever mined on earth.
The discovery has sparked two theories: that WA’s NW region was either once connected to or is of a similar structure to South Africa’s Witwatersrand Basin and that the conglomerate of gold wraps around the area’s Hamersley Range.
“There’s potentially gold right down to the Ashburton River, coming all the way up to Karratha and Whim Creek and going out to Marble Bar and Nullagine and wrapping right around the Hamersley Range,” Karratha prospector Will Scott said. “Even if it’s not too deep, it runs hundreds of kilometres and that’s a lot of gold and if it does prove real it would make Kalgoorlie look like a pinprick.”
While this modern-day Pilbara gold rush may seem like an overnight thing, prospectors have been searching for over a decade.
Long-time Pilbara prospector, Dennis O’Mara, partnered with Kalamazoo Resources more than 10 years ago.
Kalamazoo chairman, Luke Reinehr, said the finding of this type of nugget could mean a focus on the Pilbara as big as the iron ore industry had brought.
“It’s fantastic for a couple of reasons,” he said. “For one, the worlds’ exploration focus for gold is on the Pilbara now and this could mean a jobs boost for the region. We saw examples in Victoria and the Goldfields of economic booms happening with gold rushes, even simply down to stores selling wheelbarrows and metal detectors to bring in money and jobs.”
Kalamazoo Resources was the latest exploration company to acquire equity in the region’s Pilbara gold projects.
’There’s gold in them thar hills’: Kalamazoo Resources chairman Luke Reinehr.