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Prospectors rush for gold rights

The door is likely to open wider for "recreational prospecters" to look for gold and gemstones in state forests.

The door is likely to open wider for "recreational prospecters" to look for gold and gemstones in state forests. Photo: Marco Del Grande

Prospectors will be able to pan for gold, or use metal detectors to hunt for nuggets, in more Queensland state forests within months.

The Newman government is likely to open the door wider for "recreational prospectors" to look for gold and gemstones.

A spokeswoman for National Parks Minister Steve Dickson said no firm decision had yet been made, but the idea was being actively investigated.

Prospector Cory Dale.

Prospector Cory Dale. Photo: Supplied

"As part of our commitment to opening up the state's National Parks estate land, which had been systematically locked up by the former Labor government, we are also considering proposals to allow recreational fossickers greater access," she said.

This week, gold prospector Cory Dale questioned why small scale prospecting could not be further allowed in state forests.

Prospecting, even for recreational purposes, has been restricted in most state forests because of environmental damage concerns, except in designated areas.

Queensland has more than 20 designated fossicking areas, including at Gympie, Warwick and parts of central Queensland, where fossickers can search for gemstones using hand tools.

Here, people can search for for alluvial gold, sapphires, topaz, opal and amethysts with a fossickers licence, obtained from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines.

However most are well "worked out", prospectors say.

Mr Dale said gold could be found in Brisbane Forest Park near Mt Coot-tha, near Brookfield and in state forests near Warwick and Gympie, but people could not legally prospect.

Queensland Prospectors Club spokesman Warwick Anderson said he had been speaking with Mr Dickson and his director-general about getting better access to state forests.

"We would like better access in state forests, because they are the easiest ones and they are there for everyone to do something in," Mr Anderson said.

"With metal detecting, you know – you find a little target and dig a little hole – a maximum two feet deep.

"It is very low impact, that's just about it."

Mr Anderson said people in Victoria could use metal detectors and go fossicking in national parks.

In Queensland, fossickers were happy with extra space in state forests, Mr Anderson said.

He said Queenslanders could technically still fossick in state forests, but must ask for permission first.

"With the previous state government, their answer was always 'no'," he said.

"You would ask them 'why?' and they would say 'it's policy'."

Mr Anderson said fossicking boosted regional tourism.

"If you ring one of the caravan parks out near Claremont and ask them how much trade they do from prospecting, you know it is massive for them up there," he said.

Mr Anderson said controls under the Fossicking Act controlled the hand-held equipment that people could use to restrict damage.

"The biggest hole you are allowed to dig is two metres deep; so if you've dug a hole that is two metres deep, you will know that is not easier," he said.

"And you are not allowed to use any machinery, it has all got to be hand tools, like a shovel or a pick.

"So basically what we are after is to open up state forests.

"I mean, I can go and get a permit to run 1000 cattle in a state forest and you can imagine the damage that causes, but I can't get a permit to run a metal detector through there."

13 comments

  • The sound of Gold Gold Gold will reverberate through the treetops as soon as Pancho-n-Co establish the necessary Prospector Supply Shops, Saloon, Gambling Hall, Livery Stable, County Calaboose and Sheriffs Office.

    Commenter
    Geronimo
    Location
    Yippee Yi Yo
    Date and time
    October 12, 2012, 6:54AM
    • I for one have no qualms about this proposal. However I would ask the govt to either licence these prospectors (pay an annual fee) if they aren't already. Given this govts "grab for Judas' silver" this money may save some PS job/s.

      Commenter
      Davo
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      October 12, 2012, 7:37AM
      • "Thar's goold in dem hills pardner". The wild western suburb of Brookfield has streets paved with gold and Sherif Kim out at the Agency has been telling folks for years to pitch a steak an hunker down! Now the secrets out I guess all you city folks will be hitchin' up all ya wagons an heading out here to join uz awl in paradise..... :-)

        Commenter
        Goldburg
        Location
        Brisbane Wild West
        Date and time
        October 12, 2012, 8:11AM
        • Why limit it to state forests? Can I start digging great big holes in the CBD on the assumption there might be gold there, or oil, or coal? Ashgrove might be sitting on a mountain of gold, can I go prospecting there? Or is this a sad case of the mining boom is nearly done, and scratching around anywhere might actually find something, with fingers crossed?

          Commenter
          wdawes
          Date and time
          October 12, 2012, 9:38AM
          • Forget going back to the 1980s, Can Do is taking us back to the 1880s! Ya---hoooo!

            Commenter
            dzz
            Date and time
            October 12, 2012, 10:04AM
            • This is pretty funny as I noticed a while back that Can Do's Qld Paliamentary bio says one of his hobbies is GOLD PANNING.

              Commenter
              JR
              Date and time
              October 12, 2012, 10:16AM
              • If digging a series of holes 2 feet deep in a national park is "low impact" I am puzzled to imagine what high impact would be. I will be very cautious hiking through a national park if it may be full of 2 foot deep holes possible covered with leaves and twigs. Panning usually involves digging up the edges of creeks. How will this not cause errosion?

                Commenter
                Peter Stanton
                Date and time
                October 12, 2012, 10:34AM
                • You're right JR - here's Sheriff Newman's biography!
                  http://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/members/current/list/bio?member=Newman+Campbell
                  "Interests include bushwalking, camping, 4WD, gold panning, computers, history and genealogical research."

                  Commenter
                  Skylab
                  Date and time
                  October 12, 2012, 10:51AM
                  • The prospectors will do a lot of damage, every hit on the detector is a hole in the ground. Think of the thousands of old tin cans in the creeks

                    Commenter
                    Joh BP
                    Date and time
                    October 12, 2012, 10:56AM
                    • Why can we never leave things for the rest of the flora and fauna on this planet. Why do we need to stomp around and dig hundreds of thousands of holes all over the place destroying plants and small animals homes. Will we never be satisfied until we have dug up, chopped down, burnt, cemented, bitumened or killed everything. People think everything is low impact until it happens over a few years and the areas are destroyed.

                      Commenter
                      Shane in QLD
                      Date and time
                      October 12, 2012, 11:25AM

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