PERTH (miningweekly.com) – The Queensland government will introduce a suite of possible changes to support the continued operation of small-scale miners in the state, with a moratorium on new claims to end as scheduled on November 24.
“The 12-month moratorium has served its purpose and allowed government to talk to communities, landholders and small-scale miners about the best way forward,” Resources Minister Scott Stewart said.
“We’re proposing a suite of possible changes from these discussions over the past 12 months. Queensland has a long history of small-scale mining, particularly for opals, sapphires and other gemstones in central and western Queensland.
“These proposals aim to back genuine miners as well as delivering for everyone else related to small-scale mining – landholders, local communities and local businesses, Stewart said.
“The proposed changes also aim to address issues for local communities, such as claim holders building permanent structures and living on claims rather than mining them, and holders abandoning sites, leaving them for the taxpayer to clean up.”
A discussion paper has been released outlining the proposals, which include small-scale miners proving they can afford, and are equipped, to mine a claim before it is granted, clarifying what miners can do and what they can build on claims, and fines for minor offences including untidy and unkempt sites and options for new fossicking areas.
The discussion paper also seeks input on how a transition would work for miners with existing mining claims.
Queensland has almost 2 000 mining claims, most of them for hand-mining, and about 14% for machinery mining. About 80% of all claims are in the Central Queensland gemfields.
Over the past year the Queensland government has also been working with the Central Highlands Regional Council on the joint planning study for the Gemfields region.
Consultation on the discussion paper is open until February 24.