The 2019 prospecting season is expected to be busier than ever, with the Western Australian Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) issuing 1480 miner’s rights this year.
But prospecting in Western Australia’s harsh outback has resulted in a number of fatalities and incidents over recent years.
Last year a novice prospector’s body was found 2.5 kilometres away from his campsite.
In 2012, nine prospectors had been reported missing, with only one carrying a personal locator beacon (PLB).
Searches for missing prospectors average 11.3 hours, but many last one or two days. Aircraft searches also cost up to $5000 an hour.
The DMIRS said prospectors visiting remote areas should always carry a PLB, a global positioning system (GPS) instrument and telecommunication equipment.
“Prospecting is a popular and adventurous activity, but these regional and remote areas can also be brutal environments,” DMIRS resources tenure executive director Rick Rogerson said.
“GPS and PLBs are crucial to prospector safety; they’re affordable, cheaper than a mobile phone and may save your life.”
The mobile phone should not be the primary communication safety device while visiting regional and remote areas.
Put safety first
Prospectors need to have enough water, fuel, maps and first aid supplies. They should give serious consideration to take some form of telecommunications and a global positioning system to fix locations, and a PLB, which may turn out to be the most important safety device.
Obtain a miner’s right permit
This permit is essential when prospecting on vacant Crown land, and costs $25 from any mining registrar’s office.
Secure a 40E permit
The permit is valid for prospecting within an exploration tenement if one does not have written permission from the tenement holder.
Get written permission from tenement holder
This written permission is essential when prospecting on a mining lease, an exploration licence (if one is not in possession of a 40E permit) and a prospecting licence.
Comply with all legal requirements
It is important to gain permission from the pastoralist for access to certain areas when prospecting on a pastoral lease.
Show respect when on Crown land
The land is also set aside for many purposes, including pastoral and grazing activities, parks and forests, the use of Aboriginal people and mining activities.
Fill any holes
Holes that have been dug or ground that has been disturbed need to be filled and repaired.