LONDON (Commodity Online): Till recently, Victoria was just another state in Australia. Geographically the smallest mainland state, Victoria is all set to witness the second gold rush in the coming days after the discovery of gold for the first time in 1851 at Ballarat and Warrandyte transformed it into a leading industrial and commercial centre.

The gold discovery in 1850s led to the Victorian gold rush, and Melbourne, which provided most service industries and served as the major port for the region, experienced rapid growth.

Migration to Melbourne, particularly from overseas including Ireland and China, caused a massive population increase. Slums developed including a temporary tent city established on the southern banks of the Yarra, the Little Lonsdale district and at Chinatown.

The population growth and flow of gold into the city helped stimulate a program of grand civic building beginning with the design and construction of many of Melbourne's surviving institutional buildings including Parliament House, the Treasury Building and Treasury Reserve, the Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria Barracks, the State Library, Supreme Court, University, General Post Office, Government House, Customs House the Melbourne Town Hall, St Paul's, St Patrick's cathedrals and several major markets including the surviving Queen Victoria Market.

And, in 2010 reports have said that up to $20 billion worth of undiscovered gold could be lying below Victoria.

Vladimir Lisitsin of GeoScience Victoria, a government agency in Melbourne that maps the geology of the region, said much of the state's gold province remains poorly explored. Most of the gold already mined in the region is from central Victoria, where gold-bearing quartz rocks are exposed on the surface.

In the northern part of the state the same potentially gold-bearing rocks are hidden under the sediments, and gold deposits are still there waiting to be discovered.

Lisitsin and his colleagues have used geological data from three zones in the gold province to work out how much of the metal might still be in the ground.

It is 90 per cent certain that at least 500 tonnes are waiting to be discovered in the region. That would be worth $20 billion.

Much of this gold, some 290 tonnes, should be in a 10,000-square-km region in the north of the gold province called the Bendigo zone. However, mining gold on this scale could do a lot of damage to the environment.