Proposed changes to mining claims

The Queensland Government supports small-scale mining and we acknowledge the benefits it brings to many regions. It has a long history within Queensland, particularly in the extraction of opals, sapphires, and other gemstones, and sustains the livelihoods of many Queenslanders.

On 24 November 2021, we released the draft Queensland Resources Industry Development Plan, outlining a future vision for the resources sector.

Read the draft plan.

The draft plan recognises that we need a more effective system for small-scale mining. A proposed action in the plan is to remove mining claims from the Mineral Resources Act 1989 and consider better arrangements for small mining and fossicking activities.

Consultation has now closed and while government considers feedback, a moratorium is in place. This means no new mining claim applications are being accepted during this time.

The moratorium does not affect existing mining claims or applications for recreational fossicking.

What will happen during the moratorium

Existing mining claims

You can continue to operate your mining claim in accordance with your conditions of tenure. There is no change to existing mining claims during the moratorium.

You can also still apply to renew or transfer your mining claim.

New mining claim applications

If you applied for a new mining claim on or before 25 November 2021, it will continue to be assessed. During the moratorium, there is no change to how these mining claim applications are assessed.

New mining of gems or opals

New mining of gems and opals can continue under existing mining claims or mining leases during the moratorium. Prospective gem or opal miners can still apply for a mining lease and existing mining claim holders can transfer their tenure to another party.

The moratorium does not apply to fossicking. Prospective gem miners could apply for a fossicking licence.

What changes are proposed

A decision to remove mining claims from the Act was proposed in the draft plan, but a final decision has not been made. All stakeholder feedback received on this proposal is currently being considered.

If it is decided to remove mining claims from the Act, this will be announced in the final plan (expected mid-2022) and further consultation will then occur on options to manage existing mining claims.

Have your say

Thank you for having your say. Consultation has now closed, and we are currently considering all feedback.

Next steps

Here's what we're proposing to do:

Early 2022

  1. Public consultation to understand views on the proposed changes and hear ideas for other arrangements. Consultation closed 11 February 2022.
  2. Queensland Government to consider submissions and feedback, and develop initial options.
  3. Consultation with small mining associations to discuss initial options and understand issues.
  4. Queensland Government to refine options based on feedback from associations.

Mid 2022

  1. Final QRIDP released, including a decision on whether to remove mining claims.
  2. Options paper released* for public consultation seeking feedback on preferred approach.
  3. If a proposed change to legislation is required*, there will be further consultation with stakeholders on the preferred approach and arrangements for existing mining claims.

*Pending government decisions


Small business hotline: 1300 654 687

General enquiries: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)