• Big numbers of first-time prospectors spark safety call

    A cooler than usual summer has created an early start to Western Australia’s prospecting season and a record number of treasure hunters in the field, prompting a safety warning from the Department of Mines and Petroleum (DMP).

    “We usually run a safety campaign at this time of year, but this year we really need to get our message out there to what appears to be record number of first-time prospectors,” DMP Executive Director Dr Ivor Roberts said.

    “Prospecting is fun for young and old, but people need to be aware of the dangers that claimed the life of a prospector only a few years ago.”

    Dr Roberts said that nearly 1000 Miner’s Rights had been issued since the start of the year, with almost 600 issued since 1 March.

    “That means a lot of first-time prospectors will be heading out into regional WA and exposing themselves to the dangers of going bush,” he said.

    “We are to telling people to obey what we call the Seven Golden Rules for prospecting and the number one rule is to put safety first.

    “The department is also encouraging prospectors to carry Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) when prospecting in remote areas.”

    The device, which can be purchased from most outdoor stores, is considered by search and rescue organisations to be ideal for use in remote areas as it does not rely on telecommunication networks to submit a signal.

    “PLBs are the best way of avoiding the sometimes tragic results of getting lost in the Goldfields and the outback,” Dr Roberts said.

    “If you're not carrying a beacon, you're not taking enough responsibility for your life and It doesn't matter how much gold you find, if you get lost, you risk losing your life.”

    The Seven Golden Rules for prospecting campaign will target tourist bureaus, libraries, caravan parks and DMP offices with posters, brochures and booklets.

    For more information about prospecting, please visit your nearest Mining Registrar’s office to obtain a copy of Prospecting in Western Australia or download it from

    Fact file:

    A Miner’s Right is the most common prospecting permit used by tourists visiting Western Australia and allows holders to prospect on Crown Land with hand-held tools, such as a metal detector, and to take and keep samples or specimens up to 20 kilograms.

    The first Seven Golden Rules prospecting campaign in 2014 was in response to a recommendation by the State Coroner for prospectors to carry a Personal Locator Beacon (PLBs) following the death of a prospector.

    In 2012, lost prospector Michael Graham sparked a 15-day search involving aircraft, motorbikes, horses and expert trackers covering 1500 square kilometres. The body of the 46-year-old father-of-two was never found.

    The Coroner’s Court was told that of the nine prospectors who had been reported missing that year, only one had been carrying a PLB and was found within four hours.

    Searches for missing prospectors average 11.3 hours but many last one or two days, while aircraft searches cost up to $5000 per hour

    The Seven Golden Rules of Prospecting

    1.Put safety first

    Make sure you have enough water, fuel, maps, first aid supplies. Give serious consideration to taking some form of telecommunications and a global positioning system to fix locations, and a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB) – it may turn out to be your most important safety device.

    2.Obtain a Miner’s Right permit
    when prospecting on vacant Crown land ($25 from any Mining Registrar’s office).

    3.Obtain a 40E permit
    before prospecting within an exploration tenement (if you don’t have written permission from the tenement holder),

    4. Get written permission
    from the tenement holder when prospecting on:

    • a mining lease
    • an exploration licence (if you don’t have a 40E permit)
    • a prospecting licence

    5. Comply with all legal requirements
    when prospecting on a pastoral lease. You cannot prospect within 100 metres of any occupied building or within 400 metres of any livestock watering point

    6.Show respect when on Crown land
    because it is used or set aside for many purposes.

    7.Fill any holes
    that you dug and repair ground that has been disturbed.

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