A 17-pound gold nugget with an estimated value of more than $255,00 was found lying in field in the far western Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region of China last week.
Xinhua News Agency reported that Kazak herdsman Berek Sawut
, from Qinghe County in Altay Prefecture, stumbled upon the stone around 5 p.m. on Jan. 30. The estimated price of the nugget, which is 23 centimeters long and 18 centimeters wide, is based on the latest gold prices.
A gold nugget is a naturally produced irregular piece of gold that is most frequently found through mining, according to the news agency.
The mountains where the nugget was found is in a remote Altay area of northwestern China and has a history of gold mining, according to The New York Times
. Altay sits near the borders of Russia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan.
"The herder said he was worried he would not be able to keep it, because he believed that all ore from mines in the area belonged to the state, but so far no government official has demanded that he hand over his find," The Times reported.
"The nugget is natural gold ore mixed with quartz and other minerals, according to a report by China News Agency," The Times article continued. "This kind of nugget is usually called 'dog head gold,' because the nuggets come in rough, round shapes in which one can discern, if squinting, the eyes and nose of a dog."
Xinjiang has more than 600 gold mines while its region holds gold reserves of about 207 tons. It also has valued coal, gas, natural gas, and oil reserves.
Herders in Altay, though, told The Times that they have suffered as of late because of a drought, which has hampered the growth of grass and plants and has limited the size of their sheep herds.
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