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Rules and obligations

Main legal obligations

Any person who is recreationally prospecting must do so under a miner’s right and associated conditions in accordance with the rules and obligations in this guide and any authority or land access consent conditions issued to them.

The holder of a miner’s right must produce the authority for inspection if asked to do so by an inspector or any person authorised to make this request under delegations.

Recreational prospectors must have an understanding of and apply the Rules and Obligations including land access rules set out here which apply to recreational prospecting and seek consent as appropriate from the landowner, occupier, licence holder or land manager before accessing land.

Although verbal consent is sufficient, it is in the interest of the prospector to seek consent in writing, in case of any disputes relating to the consent, and the prospector is required to produce evidence that consent was sought.

The holder of a miner’s right must not:

  • use any equipment for excavation on the land, other than non-mechanical hand tools;
  • use explosives on the land;
  • remove or damage any tree or shrub on the land;
  • disturb any Aboriginal places or objects on the land; or
  • disturb any historic place or object or archaeological site/relic on the land.

The holder of a miner’s right must repair any damage to land arising out of the search for minerals as soon as possible and prior to leaving a search area.

Caring for Aboriginal heritage

Aboriginal places and objects are protected under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.  Aboriginal cultural heritage must not be injured, damaged, defaced, desecrated or destroyed.

If any Aboriginal places or objects (e.g. stone tools, middens, earthen mounds) are found, these items must not be disturbed or removed from the site.  The location of the items must be noted as accurately as possible and reported to the Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria listed in Contacts.

Descriptions of Aboriginal cultural places and objects can be found on the Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria’s website in mini posters.

Caring for historic heritage

The Heritage Act 1995 provides for the protection of places and objects of cultural heritage significance. Places and objects (including archaeological sites) of State significance are included on the Victorian Heritage Register.  Known historical archaeological sites and relics are included on the Heritage Inventory.  New discoveries of archaeological relics must not be disturbed or removed from the site, and must be reported to Heritage Victoria (listed in contacts) as soon as practicable.

Details on the nature of and range of Victoria’s historical archaeological record can be found on Heritage Victoria’s website.

Victorian Heritage Register places and Heritage Inventory sites can be found on Geovic, Explore Victoria Online.

General obligations

If any treasure troves (hidden valuables) are found on land accessed for prospecting, these belong to the Crown and such findings must be reported to the Victoria Police.

To minimise impacts from prospecting activities:

  • drive vehicles on tracks and roads open to the public and park vehicles on the roadside;
  • take all rubbish home or place it in a bin where provided and do not bury rubbish;
  • minimise any damage to vegetation including the ground layer; and
  • immediately restore the area as originally found, i.e. backfill any holes dug and replace leaf litter.

Children under 18 years of age do not need a miner’s right, if accompanied by an adult miner’s right holder when prospecting.

Safety awareness

A day in the bush prospecting can be great fun. However, prospectors must consider the safety of themselves and others. Here are some safety tips for prospectors to take into account:

  • tell someone responsible where you are going and when you will return;
  • check the weather forecast and wear appropriate clothing and take adequate water;
  • take fire and flood hazards and the declaration of Code Red days into account when planning a trip;
  • check for fire bans before lighting camp fires;
  • beware of mine shafts in the prospecting area; and
  • have a basic knowledge of first aid.