A MASSIVE gold nugget that could be worth upwards of half a million dollars has been unearthed in Ballarat.
The nugget, weighing in at 5 kilograms (177 ounces), was discovered by a local prospector, who rushed it to the Ballarat Mining Exchange Gold Shop.
The exact location and the identity of the prospector remain secret, but the gold shop owner, Cordell Kent, said the nugget was found within 30 kilometres of the Ballarat central business district.
It was found about 60 centimetres below the surface.
At market value, it would be worth just shy of $300,000, but its rarity would mean it could be worth far more, Mr Kent said.
''If you are silly enough to melt it down, it would be worth just under $300,000 on market value but as a nugget at this size and shape, it's worth significantly more than that,'' he said. ''I can't remember a nugget this big ever being found locally.''
Mr Kent said the prospector had found pieces of gold before, none worth more than $1000.
''A finding like this gives people hope. It's my dream to find something like that, and I've been prospecting for more than two decades.''
It is expected the nugget will be sold to a collector or a museum.
Mr Kent also predicted there would be a fresh gold rush. ''There will be a lot of people who will be very enthusiastic about the goldfields again,'' he said.
The story Nugget discovery could be the calm before the gold rush first appeared on The Age.