EXPLORERS have struck gold near Pyramid Hill and are turning their attention to discovering which underground rock structures might hide a mother lode.
Gold explorer Chalice Gold Mines has told the Australian Stock Exchange it has sunk its exploration drills into the ground and pulled out multiple rock samples bearing gold.
Chalice says one of the sites could be a "tier-one" mine, which many in the industry describe as "company making" because they can hold so many minerals.
Miners at the site have found a lot of underground "veins" of quartz, a rock that often contains gold.
Chalice has also been buoyed after its drilling confirmed there are multiple, tight folds in the earth at the site.
The folds were likely left as Australia's continent moved and twisted over millions of years. Central Victorian miners have often struck gold when they have dug near similar underground structures.
Chalice is still to find enough of the yellow metal to justify a mine but says it has told the ASX its drill rigs have confirmed the existence of a "large gold system".
It has characterised its find as "promising".
The company is among companies that have descended on northern and central Victoria in recent years.
There are now 20 companies exploring 70 tracts of land in the Bendigo Advertiser's readership area alone, according to a recent Minerals Council of Australia analysis.
The Addy's readership area stretches from Echuca to Kyneton and from Donald to Stanhope.
The state's mining regulator is considering another 66 applications for sites in central Victoria, including for four sites north and east of Bendigo that would be opened for the first time ever.
The regulator has had to delay deliberations on who might be able to explore the four sites because of the number of applications it has received.
Many companies are coming after the success of explorers at Fosterville, who scoured old diggings and eventually found what has become one of the richest mines in the world right now.
Some companies, including Chalice, are exploring areas north of Bendigo which have remained largely untouched by mining.
They are using modern mining techniques in a region miners used to shun because any rock formations that would hint at gold were buried over millions of years by clay and silt from ancient riverbeds and seabeds.
But many companies now suspect gold-bearing rock is not far below the ground's surface throughout the region.
Chalice is drilling into rock formations that begin 40 to 80 metres below the ground.
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