Three men have been fined $5,000 each after they found a kilogram of gold at a West Australian tenement while they were having a barbecue in a ghost town.
The ABC reports that the trio pleaded guilty – a fourth man pleaded not guilty – to taking gold worth around $62,000 from a mine site in the abandoned town of Kunanalling, near Coolgardie. The four say they were having a barbecue there on June 4 last year when they entered the mine site and saw some gold sticking out of the ground.
They were arrested after they divided the spoils, and the WA Police Gold Stealing Detection Unit noticed when they attempted to sell it using a Facebook post.
The ABC reports that Magistrate John O’Sullivan in Kalgoorlie Magistrates Court handed down the fines on Monday saying: “People can’t just wander where they like and take what they find”.
A lawyer for one of the men said he’d taken his family along for the barbecue, which “was very much a social occasion, with a bit of prospecting thrown in”.
Lawyers for the defence said the men did not realise the mine was still active, and they were charged with defrauding Evolution Mining, which owns the tenement. However, the government will get to keep the gold because of a quirk in the law, which says any gold still in the ground remains the property of the state until it is mined.
Police prosecutors had told Evolution the Crown would be keeping the find and the miner was not challenging the decision.
The ABC has more here.
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