The Future of Queensland Small Scale Mining
If small scale miners throughout the country do not take a stand and collectively act to protect our historic industries, these rights hard won by our forebears will soon be gone forever.
Small scale mining operators will be regulated out of the mining industry, and relegated to the annals of history with little or any potential for future generations to experience and enjoy the pleasures and investment opportunities that only gem and gold mining and prospecting can afford!
Small scale miners and prospectors, be it for gold, opals or sapphires are being intentionally over-regulated by departmental staff as a means “to our end”, destroying our employment, vocations & hobbies by wilfully executing the “death by a thousand cuts”!
The decline of Gem and Gold producers will continue to diminish the regional communities which are appreciative of investment stimulus that small scale miners invest in these communities and the tourism opportunities which they can attract.
The QSMC therefore look to our members, industry compatriots and the general public to support the Queensland Small Scale Miners so that the future for these Gold and Opal and Sapphire Industries in Queensland is assured!
Important News Update 24/11/2021
The Small Scale Mining Registrar Ben Johns, advised the Queensland Small Mining Representative groups that all applications for "New" Mining Claims including Prescribed Mining Claims would no longer be accepted, as of today!
This is a major blow to the States Small Scale Mining Sector who utilise this form of tenure to remain viable, which is imperative since the financial strain caused by the COVID 19 crisis.
This “Extraordinary order” was authorised by the new Minister for Resources, The Hon. Mr. Scott Stewart and published in the Queensland Government Gazette.
This act would indeed seem “extraordinary” given the Small Scale Mining Groups were not forewarned nor consulted about this shock move by the State, and could not be implemented at a worse time given border lockdowns and local & international gem buyers and tourists being unable to travel to Queensland.
The only option now available for miners to progress a tenure application will be to apply for mining leases, which attract a significantly higher annual rental fee to Mines Department, and also forces small scale miner’s to apply for Environmental Authority's with the EPA, which will also attract annual Environmental Fees of around $800.00 per annum & annual reporting requirements and associated costs.
It is uncertain at the moment how Small Scale Mining Explorer's, who have current Exploration Permits, if they are able to exercise the entitlement for which their EPM tenure application rights which were "sought , entitled and permitted"...........to peg a mining claim!
Given now the retrospective effect on existing tenures by the actions the Minister in imposing the Gazette Notice under MRA section 391 (1), it must be examined how this power can be exercised given the most controversial manner it has been applied
The MRA's, section 391(2) states -"The Minister must consider the public interest before acting under subsection 391(1)
The Ministerial Code of Conduct and ( Ministers Handbook) (Appendix 1 ) states ....Ministers must "observe fairness in making official decisions" , with "consultation" appropriate to the matter at issue & and giving due consideration to the rights and interests of the persons involved & should observe procedural fairness and natural justice...to the greatest extent possible!
It is not remotely apparent that the Minister has considered the Ministerial Code of Conduct when applying the Extra- ordinary Gazette Notice prohibiting Mining Claims , as the QSMC delegates nor tenure holders consulted prior to this Gazette Notice being published, and "procedural fairness" & "natural justice" or consideration to the rights and interests of tenure holders" afforded and even avoided!
Legal opinion is currently being sought as whether the Explorer at the very least may be able to seek losses from the State for "exploration and other costs" if the Explorer deems the Mining Lease option, (which is now the only tenure available), not fit for purpose, ...given the States granting of the tenure & the procedural processes which this Gazette Notice was derived & applied !
The Mines Department had initiated this action in conjunction with the Queensland Resource Industry Development Plan (QRDIP) which has not only dismissed Small Scale Miners Representative Groups submissions to the QRDIP, and who have also neglected to advise the Small Scale Mining Representative Groups about the implementation of the Gazette notice which now removes Mining Claims as a legitimate form of tenure.
To support this disingenuous ploy, the Department of Mines, authorised a “Cost Benefit Analysis” of the Queensland Gem mining sector, which limited scope ensured an orchestrated result which support the established Departments motive…..to repress small scale mining in the State.
The SSM - Cost Benefit Analysis which was undertaken by Synergies Economic Consulting (SEC), is, at the very best, inconclusive, as SEC possessed a piecemeal knowledge of these industries & hence limited their investigative scope of the economic benefits derived from small scale mining to contentious “mine face” production and tourism benefit figures, both of which only procure a fraction of the value of gem production to the State and Australia!
There has been no encouragement or consideration by Synergies to look farther then where they were pointed to by the Department, and therefore Synergies have failed to even recognise let alone consider the value adding of gemstones by miners, local gem cutters, merchants and jewellers, all of which exponentially increases the values of these uniquely Queensland mined goods.
The processing and value adding of these “high demand”, Queensland gemstones employs and support the many hundreds of local retailers and e-shops that export these stones daily all over the world.
This arbitrary SSM Cost Benefit Analysis Report has, at least for the moment, provided the outcome which supported the Department of Mines agenda!
To enquire further or query the Governments bizarre form of Industry support please call the Ministers office on 07 3008 3500 or his electorate office 07 4766 4100 as the QSMC nor the QSMC member groups are unable to provide any detail or rationale for this decision.
Disclaimer :- Despite Synergies claims of consultation with Stakeholders including the QSMC in the Cost Benefit Analysis document,…the Qld. Small Mining Council (QSMC) and the majority of Small Scale Mining Representative groups did not participate in this Cost Benefit Analysis because of impositions caused by the COVID lockdowns.
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