Search is on for Orara gold

JOHN Slade is hoping at least one of hundreds of old mines around Coffs Harbour holds a golden secret.

The rocketing price of gold has seen Geophysical Consulting Services apply for an exploration licence over an area of about 250 square kilometres which includes about 120 old gold mines on the old Orara-Coramba gold field.

The exploration area stretches from Woolgoolga to North Boambee and west to Nana Glen and the forests of the Eastern Dorrigo.

“A significant tonnage of gold has been mined in that area, some in the 1800s, with the next flurry of mining before World War I,” said Mr Slade, the principal of Geophysical Consulting Services.

“Some of them were probably flooded out because they did not have the pumping technology.”

“The only recent mining as such was when they had a go at re-opening the Mt Browne Mine where the pistol range is, in the 1970s, first for gold, then as copper.

“As I understand it, the pistol range is on the old Karangi Copper Mine dumps.”

Mr Slade said if the exploration licence was granted by the Department of Primary Industries, he would revisit the area and do tests at each of the 120 mines identified, most of them on State Forests land.

“If we find one we get excited about, we'll drill one or two holes,” he said.

He is particularly interested in the Mt Browne mine, where he said there was an unexplained base-metal anomaly which he wanted to investigate.

Mr Slade was involved in geophysical work for the Karangi Copper Mine in the 1970s.

He said in almost 40 years of hunting for minerals, a mineral boom had always followed high oil prices and if the gold price was to match the current oil price, gold would reach more than $US1500 an ounce.

While he said he did not expect this to happen, he did not think the gold price had yet reached its peak.

The Orara gold field had one of the richest reefs in NSW, producing more than 41,000 ounces of refined gold after its discovery in 1881.

Today that gold would be worth more than $40 million, with gold trading at $US970 an ounce this week.

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