The Queensland Government will focus on the Central Highlands Gemfields as it reforms its state-wide administrative systems for small-scale mining.
A $200,000 investment will boost a joint planning study between the State Government and the Central Highlands Regional Council, underpinned by consultation and a state-wide freeze on mining claims.
Resources Minister Scott Stewart and Central Highlands Mayor Kerry Hayes announced the master plan together, saying much work was needed to streamline smaller mining activities.
“The Government proposes to replace mining claims with better arrangements for small mining and fossicking activities,” Stewart said.
“With more than 1500 claims in the Central Highlands, it makes sense to incorporate the Palaszczuk Government’s work on future small mining tenures with council’s master planning.”
Competing land uses have been raised by Central Highlands communities and Hayes said this would be addressed.
“The region needs to resolve issues around coexistence for small miners and graziers, access to secure land tenure for permanent homes, and also provide potential for more areas for fossicking,” Hayes said.
“A comprehensive study that properly examines the options with our communities will provide a pathway to the future for the Central Highlands which could inform the development of a master plan.”
The freeze on mining claims came into effect from November 25 in line with the government’s release of its Resources Industry Development Plan.
The development plan is currently undergoing a three-month consultation period.
Stewart said the 1900 existing mining claims would not be affected by the freeze and existing claim holders can continue to apply for renewals.
The planning study comes less than two months after the Queensland Parliament passed retroactive legislation to ensure more than 900 of the state’s historic mining tenures remained valid.
“Administrative deficiencies” were found in the Resources and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 on August 6, 2021, according to Stewart.
“The Department of Resources has identified there were 86 mining leases for coal and 847 mining leases for other minerals that have one of the following or both administrative deficiencies: firstly, the minister did not recommend the issuing of the lease; secondly, the instrument of lease was not issued to the holder,” Stewart said when introducing the Bill.