In the late 1800’s Western Australia’s population was growing exponentially due largely in part to the discoveries being made in Kalgoorlie, Coolgardie and Murchison. The area was a hotbed for prospecting and people from all over the world made their way into WA for the opportunity to stake a claim and find Gold. Amongst those prospectors was a man by the name of Paddy Hannan. Paddy was fortunate enough to be the man who discovered the gold deposit in Kalgoorlie in 1893. Today the property is owned by Barrick and Newmont and is Australia’s second largest open pit mine known as “The Super Pit” and currently ranks amongst the largest in the world. If you truly want to understand the mining history of Western Australia, the Perth Mint is a great place to start your adventure, (like I did) and learn the rich history of mining in this part of the country.
Known as Australia’s official precious metals mint and owned by the Government of Western Australia, the Perth Mint has an incredible past dating back to 1899. The Mint is a global leader in precious metals and ranks amongst Western Australia’s top exporters. They offer refining services to mining companies across WA and also manufacture many coin related items for investors and collectors all over the world. They offer daily tours and hold a wealth of information including some of the area’s most incredible specimens.
In the center of the courtyard there is a statue to commemorate one of the earliest finds in WA’s history; the statue is of William Ford and Arthur Bayley, who are credited with the discovery of the first significant gold find in the state of Western Australia. The find was made in 1892, near what is now known as the town of Coolgardie. The statue depicts the two men enthusiastically examining a nugget they had spent the better part of their lives searching for. You get a real sense of excitement that they must have had upon this discovery. The artist really embodied the emotion of the two men and captivated a moment in time that forever changed WA.
As I made my way through the front door, I was greeted by the kind staff and had the opportunity to meet manager Alison Puchy, who was kind enough to offer me a full Perth mint experience and allowed me to take all the time I needed to make my way around the property and take pictures at my leisure. I promptly made my way through the exhibit in awe of the beauty and craftsmanship of some of their featured items such as the newly minted Jeweled dragon.
This extraordinary work of art is an awe-inspiring celebration of the most revered creature in ancient Chinese Mythology. Crafted from 10 ounces of pure gold and embedded with 117 rare Argyle pink diamonds and a green Muzo emerald for the eye, makes it one of the most beautiful coins I had ever laid eyes my on. I found myself lost in the moment while I took in the incredible detail and precision of this hand crafted coin.
After a short video that explained the existence of gold in the universe and some of the ways in which it was deposited, I made my way to the showcase. This is where the significance of high grade gold potential was highlighted in Western Australia. It truly is one of the most intriguing areas in the world from a geological perspective and the proof is in the high grade deposits that litter the area. There were more examples of alluvial gold than I had anticipated and I was pleasantly surprised by the number of specimens on display. Amongst them was the Newmont Normandy Nugget, found in 1995 and weighing in at 25.5 kg (819 troy ounces), this impressive nugget was found in a dry creek bed near Kalgoorlie. This nugget is the second largest specimen still in existence today.
After spending a fair bit of time photographing the specimens I made my way to the viewing area for the acclaimed gold pouring experience, It was truly amazing to see the process first hand and I highly recommend it to anyone visiting the mint while in Perth. The presentation was both informative and entertaining and one I will not soon forget. The staff were incredibly kind and knowledgeable and willing to accommodate me as I attempted to bring the story of the Perth Mint to life. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and came away with a coin to commemorate my experience.