New permit proposed for recreational gold mining

  • Hon Shane Jones

The Government is considering creating a new tier of minerals permitting that will make it easier for hobby miners to prospect for gold.

“New Zealand was built on gold, it’s in our DNA. Our gold deposits, particularly in regions such as Otago and the West Coast have always attracted fortune-hunters. It’s no surprise that this is still a recreational pastime for many Kiwis. Sadly though, the hoops they have to jump through to obtain a permit is a significant barrier,” Resources Minister Shane Jones says.

The proposed Tier 3 permits would allow Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment to streamline the process and ensure the regulatory scrutiny applied is appropriate for the types of activities in non-commercial gold mining.

“Currently under the Crown Minerals Act, the same regulatory burden for a medium-sized opencast mine is applied to a hobbyist who wants to use a small suction dredge to look for gold in a river.

“This is a prime example of where the time, effort and resources regulators and applicants are putting into permit applications vastly exceeds the risks and value of the activity.

“This Government wants to get that balance right so that regulators can focus their attention on the applications that actually need it.”

Non-commercial gold mining, also referred to as hobby or recreational mining, differs from gold fossicking, which can be done by anyone in designated areas using only hand tools.

There are currently around 200 permits for small-scale non-commercial gold mining, generally producing around $10,000 worth of gold per annum in total. These permits often supplement incomes or pensions and, on occasion, can unearth more significant gold finds.

“I want to see more New Zealanders have the opportunity to undertake and benefit from small-scale gold mining, without having to demonstrate things like a mineable resource in their applications or provide the annual reporting that a larger-scale operation would face,” Mr Jones says.

The new Tier 3 permit is being considered together with a range of other potential changes to the Crown Minerals Act 1991 aimed at improving regulatory efficiency.

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