Gemfields sapphire miners raise concerns over proposed limit to mining claim tenures in Queensland

5 months ago
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Amber Betteridge and her husband Matt "gave it all up" to become full-time sapphire miners. Highlights Queensland government proposes 15-year limit for small mining claims Queensland government proposes 15-year limit for minor mining claims Extending mandate will be at the discretion of resources minister Extension of mandate will be at resources minister's discretion A sapphire miner says the proposal would turn Gemfields into a 'ghost town' Ms Betteridge moved her young family to Gemfields in Queensland two years ago; Here they make a living by digging stones with picks and shovels, cutting them and selling the precious stones on social media. That's enough to comfortably support a family of four, but Ms Betteridge fears a new proposal to limit mining claims could destroy their livelihood. “We are absolutely devastated,” Ms Betteridge said. "We gave up everything to get here, and this is our way of life... making the entire future extremely unstable." Matt and Amber Betteridge with their two children, Riley and Elise. The Queensland Department Resources published discussion paper in late September that included a proposal to limit the duration of mining claims to maximum 15 years. Any extension thereafter will be at the discretion of the minister of resources. "This is ridiculous, we're digging here with picks and shovels and mining can be done sustainably for 100 years from small mining claims," ​​Ms Betteridge said. Mrs. Betteridge's husband found the party sapphire. “There are a lot of people living off mining claims, and that's the way of life here.” Ms Betteridge said people would not want to move to the area if the rules were changed. “With these changes, you could see Gemfields turning into a ghost town in 15 years,” he said. "There will be shops, no bars or schools... our children will have future." Almost year ago, the ministry had issued similar document proposing limit tenures, in bid to crack down on people building permanent structures their own claims without improving the land. Many people choose to live off mining claims in Gemfields. Minister defended the proposal Queensland Resources Minister Scott Stewart said the changes would protect small-scale miners and limit "cowboys" living off mining claims. “This is about making sure those who are doing the right thing are protected and continue to do small-scale mining,” he said. Resources Minister Scott Stewart said he would continue to work with miners on reforms. The state government has been reviewing issues related to small-scale mining for almost two years. It published a reform proposal document in November last year and invited the public to comment on the plan. But Ms Betteridge said the feedback was ignored. "It seems like a complete waste of time," she said. An underground sapphire mine in Gemfields. The resources minister said the government received 39 written submissions and 61 questionnaires in response to the