Government backs Central Highlands Gemfields master plan

Minister for Resources The Honourable Scott Stewart

The Palaszczuk Government will invest $200,000 in a better future for the Central Highlands Gemfields through a joint planning study with Central Highlands Regional Council.

Resources Minister Scott Stewart and Central Highlands Mayor Kerry Hayes today announced the joint project that will have a focus on small mining and fossicking.

The study will include consultation and a state-wide freeze on mining claims.

“Queensland needs a more effective and efficient system for small-scale mining,” Mr Stewart said.

“The Government proposes to replace mining claims with better arrangements for small mining and fossicking activities.

“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.

“All mining projects, big or small, contribute to Queensland’s economy, and are at front of mind for the Palaszczuk Government as we continue to implement our COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.”

Mayor Kerry Hayes said community and industry were seeking sustainable solutions to issues around small mining and fossicking, including competing land uses.

“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,” he 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 Government and council will develop terms of reference as the next stage for the master plan, with consultation on the proposal to discontinue new mining claims to begin shortly.

The mining claim freeze took effect from November 25 and is flagged in the draft Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan, which was released last week for three months’ consultation.

Minister Stewart said the freeze applied to new applications for mining claims and would not affect the state’s existing almost 1900 mining claims and applications for recreational fossicking.

Existing claim-holders can still apply to renew their claims.

Visit resources.qld.gov.au/qridp

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