96-year-old gold hunter pays environmental deposit
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Tran Van Tiep, the 96-year-old man who has got permission from authorities to continue hunting for a treasure he believes is buried in Tau Mountain in Binh Thuan Province, has put up a VND500 million (US$24,000) environmental deposit.
Tiep, at his expense, built this path that leads to the top of Tau Mountain Photo: File photo
Several days ago the local people’s committee decided to again permit Tiep to pursue his dream after stopping him in 2003.
He now has 270 days to find the treasure.
Tiep’s exploration team will drill to a depth of 50 meters at five places in the 100 m mountain along National Highway 1A.
Tiep believes that if weather conditions are favorable, his team can find the treasure within 30 days.
Tiep estimates the search to cost more than VND3.3 billion (US$158,000).
Tiep first began to search in 1993 based on materials he had obtained which made him believe the Japanese army buried a vast amount of gold in the mountain in 1945 at the end of World War II.
However, Tiep’s team did not find any gold, only an old Japanese sword, a Nippon Bank 10,000-yen coin, a hookah, a metal insignia of the Kokuryu-Kai – also known as the Black Dragon Society, a stone compass, and two ancient Cham sculptures.
“I have spent thousands of taels (37.5 grams) of gold in the past 20 years, but I believe that a gigantic treasure is hidden under the mountain.”
Several months ago he said the total value of the hoard could be more than $100 billion.