DARWIN, Australia — A retired meat worker using only a pick and shovel has discovered a reef of gold-laden quartz--hailed as possibly one of Australia's richest finds--south of the outback town of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory.
Ray Hall, 62, who has been prospecting all his life, struck the gold vein while digging behind his shed on Kurrinelli Station, about 900 miles south of Darwin in an area worked by Chinese gold miners last century.
Barry Coulter, the Northern Territory minister for mines and energy, said the find could turn out to be one of the biggest in Australia's history and make the Tennant Creek region the nation's next Kalgoorlie, a major gold-mining center.
"He came across a whole reef of quartz," Coulter said Monday. "When he filled a 44-gallon drum and drove into town to ask our mines and energy people to look at it, they almost fell off their chairs.