Gemfields sapphire miners relieved as Queensland government halts small-scale mining claim reforms – by Jasmine Hines (Australian Broadcasting Corporation – April 18, 2024)

When Amber Betteridge moved her family to Queensland’s Gemfields to hunt for sapphires, she never imagined she’d become locked in a “David versus Goliath” fight against the Queensland government.

Soon after she arrived, the state government put forward a proposal to limit small-scale mining claim tenures to 15 years to crack down on people living on claims without mining them. It was a nightmare for Ms Betteridge, who wanted certainty for her young family.

This week the state government quietly released its latest plan, abandoning the proposal to limit claim tenures after gem miners banded together to campaign against it. “We’re very, very happy to see that tenure capping has been removed … it’s a massive sigh of relief for us,” Ms Betteridge said.

“What the Save the Gemfields group has been able to achieve has been nothing short of miraculous. “It really is a bit of a David versus Goliath thing.” Many gem miners opposed the proposal and argued it would turn the Gemfields into a “ghost town” by making the area a less appealing place to live.

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