A rancher claims he found a seventeen-pound gold nugget laying on the ground in Xinjiang, China. Berek Sawut said he was resting near a mine when he made the incredible discovery. Although it was not officially appraised, the gold nugget is estimated to be worth more than $220,000.
As reported by the New York Times, the seventeen-pound gold nugget is exceptionally large. However, similar nuggets are commonly found throughout the Xinjiang region.
Traditionally called “dog head gold” or “horseshoe gold,” the nuggets are not pure. Instead, they composed of gold ore, quartz, and traces of other minerals. The nuggets are generally roughly shaped and somewhat large. However, the seventeen-pound gold nugget is the largest ever found in the region.
Xinjiang is well-known for having an abundance of natural resources, including coal, natural gas, and oil. Additionally, the region has an estimated 600 working gold mines and more than 200 tons of gold reserve. In 2014 alone, the region produced an estimated 20 tons of gold.
Although the region is rich in natural resources, agriculture remains Xinjiang’s most profitable business. Unfortunately, the entire region is experiencing a severe drought.
As the drought has killed off a large portion of the grasslands, the sheep have lost their primary source of food. Sawut, and many other ranchers, have been forced to sell their livestock at reduced prices.
Although the seventeen-pound gold nugget is likely worth more than $250,000, it is unclear whether Sawut will be able to keep it. As China is a communist country, the rancher’s land officially belongs to the government. Therefore, he may be obligated to surrender his his treasure. Sawut said he understands the law, and is willing to give the nugget to officials. However, he is still proud of his discovery.
— China.org.cn (@chinaorgcn) February 6, 2015
Large gold nuggets are quite common in Xinjiang. However, the world’s largest gold nugget was discovered in Victory, Australia, in 1869. As reported by Discovery, the “Welcome Stranger Nugget” weighed an impressive 158 pounds and sold for more than $14,000.
Interestingly, Berek Sawut’s gold nugget is shaped quite similar to the Chinese mainland. Photos of the nugget went viral and were shared via social media throughout the weekend.
Although he expects it will eventually be confiscated, Sawut said he has not heard from any government officials. The rancher said he still has possession of the seventeen-pound gold nugget.
[Image via Shutterstock]