Scientists in outback Australia have made a discovery that could revolutionise how gold is mined – they have found traces of the metal in the leaves and branches of eucalyptus trees in the remote Kalgoorlie region of Western Australia.
But before you pack your swag and head for the bush, the gold is only found in tiny amounts; it would take 500 trees to produce enough gold for a wedding ring.
The trees have adapted to living in dry conditions by having huge underground root systems, as far as 30 metres into the earth, so the value of this discovery is the help it can provide to mining companies in search of new sources. Nigel Radford, former geochemist with US-based Newmont Mining, one of the world’s biggest gold producers said it was “very, very important for the future of mineral exploration.
This news item reminds me of another that came out towards the end of the war in Jugoslavia, when attempts were being made to find mass graves. A British Lepidopterist became an advisor as wherever the bodies were buried, the earth became more fertile, so plants attracted butterflies, so by looking for butterflies, the graves were found.
Sometimes simple observation works better than technical gear.