On the 17th of May, this year (2017) Local Councilor Peter Shelly put a motion before the Mid-Western Regional Council to ask the State Government to declare this Council area a Fossicking District. The Motion went to the Council meeting with full support of staff and was passed unanimously by those present. This is a great move forward for all prospectors and a fantastic opportunity for the local region to push forward with geo tourism and promotion of the sparkling history associated with Mudgee, Gulgong, and the satellite towns. Bathurst for many years has been a gazetted Fossicking District and has reaped the rewards of geo tourism promotion especially around Hill End and Sofala. With the right people in charge and enthusiasm Mid-Western Regional Council Area could become a hive of activity and the small satellite towns could really benefit from an influx of geo tourists.
What this really means?
Well as a fossicker/prospector the deluge of Exploration Licenses (EL) covering the region are now fairly well redundant to the recreational prospector. Before being declared a fossicking council, you were required to obtain permission from the EL holder in writing to prospect on any land covered by their EL, even if it was your own backyard. This will no longer be the case once it is signed off by the state government. Most EL’s in the shire are Coal, Silver, Gas etc and the small workings of the recreational prospector would have little impact if any on the larger companies looking for their desired minerals. It is important to point out that all common and civil laws are still enforceable, you cannot jump fences and prospect on private property, landholder’s permission MUST still be obtained.
The New South Wales and ACT Fossickers and Prospectors Association (NAFPA) has for many years been fighting for the rights of Fossickers and Prospectors in NSW and the ACT, they have been a driving force behind a lot of shires declaring themselves prospecting councils. If you are not a member then get behind this group, they are fighting for your rights and the more members they have the better chance they have of being heard. Now NAPFA are pushing for a clearer law governing High banking in NSW. With a Win under their belt concerning Prospecting Council Areas in NSW the future looks bright for the group and their supporters.
Some Basic NSW FACTS
What is fossicking?
Fossicking is the gathering of mineral deposits or objects. It is usually done recreationally by individuals in a way that does not disturb the land or water by the use of machinery or explosives.
Do I need a licence?
While fossicking licences are no longer required you still need to get a permit to fossick in NSW State Forests and there are a number of guidelines which must be observed. See State Forestry for more information
Where can I go fossicking?
Fossickers are now required to seek the consent of Western Lands Leaseholders prior to entry, as is the case for all other classes of landholders and leaseholders. For entry onto other lands fossickers need the landholder's consent. The Mining Act also allows fossicking on vacant crown land and government-owned land that is restricted to grazing. It's best to check the status of any area before you go looking for riches.
How do I get information about who owns the land?
You usually get this information from the Local Council. You can also try the local office of the Department of Land and Water conservation or State Forests.
Can I go fossicking in national parks or state forests?
Fossicking is not allowed in national parks, but you can fossick in state forests so long as you obtain permission from the local State Forests office, which will also advise you of any regulations or rules of which you will need to be aware.
What else do I need to know?
- You can't use explosives or machines to fossick - only hand-held, but not power-driven, implements
- You can't fossick on land or in waters that are under native title unless consent is given
- You can't excavate or clear land or water to fossick
- You can't damage or remove bush rock
- You can't remove more than 25kg of minerals, 50g of gold or 100g of gemstones in any 48-hour period
- What happens if I don't comply with any of these guidelines?
- A fine of up to $1,100 can be enforced by a Department of Mineral Resources environmental officer.
Can I use a metal detector?
Yes. Metal detectors are considered part of the fossicker's equipment, as are picks, shovels and gold pans.
If I find anything of value, who owns it?
You do - providing you have consent to fossick and you remove it lawfully.
Where can I get more information about fossicking?
- A guide to fossicking in NSW (PDF 5.5MB/11 pages)