Altay means gold in Mongolian, so it is fitting that, on Jan. 30, Berek Sawut, a Kazakh herdsman, found a rare 17-pound gold nugget in the Altay area, which is in the Xinjiang region of northwestern China, near the intersection of Russia, Mongolia, and Kazakhstan.
The nugget is 9 inches long, 7 inches wide, and bears a strong resemblance in shape to China. It is natural gold ore mixed with quartz and other minerals, colloquially known as “dog head gold” or “horseshoe gold.” Those types of nuggets are common in the area, but the size of this nugget makes it notable.
The herder said the nugget was near a gold mine, “practically lying on bare ground,” according to Xinhua, the state-run news agency.
There are 600 gold mines in Xinjiang, reports The New York Times, many of them built by the Russians during the first half of the 20th century.
—China Xinhua News (@XHNews) February 5, 2015