When did looking for gold become a potentially illegal act? When did looking for the shiny metal become an unfeasible journey of jumping through bureaucratic hoops..?
Once the backbone of many Australian towns, gold is now considered by most as only a commodity for big mining companies. The amateur prospector is now shrugged off as a hopeless treasure-hunter, potentially even one who does great damage to the environment!
Is this assumption true? Let’s ask the government.
Photo of gold for sale on KJC.
Recently state governments including Victoria
and New South Wales
began investigating whether to allow prospectors access to national parks. That’s right – the poor, amateur prospector hasn’t been allowed to look for gold wherever he or she chooses since about a hundred years ago!
Furthermore, in Canberra prospecting for gold is just outright illegal. Nobody is allowed to look for the natural element within the ACT.
So, why? Well, as is the case with many hobbies, a few rotten apples spoil the teacake.
The most common methods of amateur prospecting are with a gold pan or a sluice. The material going into the pan and/or sluice is pulled from the ground and scanned intently with care. So, (the theory has long been) if you can dig where nobody else has dug, you might find something nobody else has!
The problems arise when some holes are not filled in afterwards, and in extreme cases, rivers are even being diverted from their original course.
Yes, this may be damaging to the environment, and may warrant a reason to disallow prospector’s access to national parks. However recent research by Australian scientists could hold the key to a prospecting method to find larger amounts of gold that is seemingly environment friendly.
This short video will explain: http://youtu.be/MD35TTjWUfM
Maybe the answer to prospecting in national parks isn’t as black and white as most make it out to be. Instead of an outright “No” or “Nein” from state governments to prospect in national parks, shouldn’t it be about how the prospecting is being performed?
Gold-bearing quartz vein! Photo by S. F. Cox, ANU.
If someone chooses to stroll through a national park with a metal detector looking for auriferous quartz veins, is that damaging to the environment? No! If someone stumbles over a mother lode in the ACT, shouldn’t they be entitled to take some home or tell someone without fear of retribution?
With more knowledge about how to prospect, and more environmentally friendly methods to do so, prospecting should be returned to its heritage status as a national pastime. With the mining boom beginning to slide, it would only take one new gold deposit to potentially boost the Australian economy back to the heights of a few years ago!
So, fellow prospectors, please consider looking for the larger quantities of gold that reside in quartz veins, and in doing so, you will help the image of Australian “treasure hunters” and even increase the chances that we will one day be allowed back into national parks. Or possibly even Canberra!