LAND ACCESS FOR PROSPECTORS
The PMAV continues to fight for your right to prospect on public land
Land access is one of the most important issues facing both hobbyist and professional prospectors and miners today.
Victoria being a closely settled state has a high demand on the use of Public Land for both recreational and commercial activities. This has resulted in large tracts of land being designated as National and State Parks, reserves and any one of a multitude of other titles.
The plethora of reserved and designated areas has resulted in the withdrawal of vast tracts of Public land from recreational prospecting.
Over the past decade a number of issues have arisen which have progressively worked towards eroding away the rights of prospectors and independent miners in Victoria.
Access to land is, of course, a basic requirement for all types of mineral recovery. Federal and State Government policies and legislation such as the Regional Forest Agreements, prohibition of access to many of Victoria's Parks and reserves, and over zealous management principles have all placed further restrictions on our activities. Land is continually being locked away from both corporate and non-corporate mining operators alike.
We are now experiencing the impact of Native Title Legislation. The administration in Victoria and the uncertainty are enough to make many miners question the viability of future operations.
Green groups constantly demand further and further controls. This has resulted in policies and legislation that quite often does not inter-connect with other policies and programs in existence within other government departments. Current Victorian legislation makes access to Parks impossible even though Geological Survey reports recognise their geological, and therefore economic importance
The result of many studies is poor management plans that often place restrictions upon areas that have considerable recreational and mineral wealth potential, by prohibiting prospecting and mining activities within these regions.
Perhaps most importantly, the major issue that the PMAV faces is the continued neglect by Government, bureaucracy and often large scale gold producers to recognise the significance of prospecting and non-corporate mining to the overall economy. The results of prospecting activities in Victoria have in fact led to the discovery of major gold deposits for example the Heathcote Gold Joint Venture was established by an independent prospector. Furthermore prospectors also discovered the gold deposit at Nagambie, which is currently being worked by Perseverance Exploration Pty Ltd, during the 1980's.
What this issue raises is that one of the most highly productive forms of mining and prospecting is metal detecting, yet it is not accepted by government, bureaucracy, or our corporate colleagues. From a historical and productive perspective the technology boom of the early '80's created Victoria's new wave of independent prospectors and miners following the introduction of an exciting and innovative gold discovery tool - the metal detector - which has since caused the industry to boom.
Gold production figures from independent miners from that time are unknown, however many fortunes were won. It was a time reminiscent of last century's rushes.
In October 2002 the culmination of an investigation into the continued sustainability of the Box Ironbark forests and Woodlands by the Environmental conservation council of Victoria resulted in the inevitable creation of a suite of new parks and reserves by the Bracks Victorian Labour Government.
Throughout the 6 years that it took the ECC to complete this task the Prospectors and Miners Association and its members made numerous detailed submissions to the council as well as highlighting the errors within the draft report released in July 2001. The PMAV was instrumental in organising a public rally held in Bendigo and attended by approximately 3000 people to protest against the creation of more parks in the Box Ironbark region of Victoria. In the days leading up to the introduction of the bill into state parliament the PMAV executive extensively lobbied politicians from all parties not to accept the bill in it current form.
Although the creation of these new parks could not be stopped such was the pressure applied by the PMAV on behalf of all prospectors and miners that access and use the areas covered in the report that some significant concessions were won. These entail the continued availability for prospecting of all areas within the new parks where prospecting was previously allowed prior to the change in land status. The status quo shall remain until at least the completion of individual management plans for the various areas by the land managers in consultation with local advisory committees made up of representatives from the various interest groups in each area.
The PMAV hopes to have a representative on each committee in the areas where prospecting is currently a legitimate activity enjoyed by many. However to accomplish this we need the support and help of as many members as possible so that we can continue to adequately represent the prospecting community as a whole.
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