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Miner’s rights for recreational prospecting and fossicking

Recreational prospecting and fossicking

Recreational prospecting and fossicking involves the use of hand tools e.g. metal detectors, pans and sluices, in the search for gold, gemstones and other minerals.  Prospecting is a recreational experience with many of the world’s largest gold nuggets found in the Golden Triangle in central Victoria.  Similarly, elsewhere, gemstone fossickers have found sapphires, zeolites and agate.

Some significant discoveries from prospecting include the legendary 27.27 kilogram "Hand of Faith" nugget found at Kingower in 1980, and the 5.5 kilogram gold nugget found near Ballarat in 2013.  In addition to being an exciting recreational activity, prospecting provides an opportunity to exercise, relax, socialise and connect with Victoria’s history, cultural heritage and the natural environment.

Information about how you can get involved in this activity, where you can prospect and the rules and obligations involved are detailed on this site.

The information presented here is a guide and does not replace legislation applying to recreational prospecting. For further information, prospectors can contact the relevant authorities.

This Prospectors and Miners Association of Victoria (PMAV) movie provides a video representation of recreational prospecting and fossicking in Victoria (YouTube).

Find out more information about the PMAV.  

Miner’s rights

In Victoria, recreational prospectors must have a miner’s right to search for minerals on Crown land or private land where the activity is allowed.  In addition to holding a miner’s right, recreational prospectors are expected to seek permission to access land as explained here.  A miner’s right can only be issued to an individual and not corporations.

Miner’s rights are not to be confused with tourist fossicking authorities or prospecting licences which are separate authorities requiring consent to be granted (may be subject to conditions) or refused.  Unlike miner’s rights, these authorities require the application for the granting of the authority to identify the land to be accessed. Tourist fossicking authorities and prospecting licences can be issued to individuals or corporations.

In Victoria, all minerals belong to the Crown, even on private land.  A miner’s right transfers the ownership of any minerals found whilst prospecting, to the holder of the miner’s right.  A miner’s right is required, even if you are prospecting on your own land.  A miner’s right gives the holder the right to remove any minerals discovered by him or her on the land.

Purchasing miner’s rights

A miner’s right valid for 10 years can be purchased for $17.70.

If the rules and obligations including land access rules have been read and understood, a miner’s right can be purchased.

purchase a miners's right