NSW Highbanking Illegal ..... so what is a Highbanker and Highbanking?

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One foot out the door
Sep 18, 2013
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West of the Yarra, East of SA,
So we've all seen the "Compliance Priority" indicating that Highbanking is illegal in NSW.
In my reading of their Regulations/Act in regard to "fossicking" I couldn't really find a definition of a high banker or high banking as a process, thought I'd write to them to see what they say a high banker actually is, will be interesting to see what response it gets.

FYI the address I used (only one I could find) was
[email protected]

If they get enough similar queries it may get them to think about what they're doing (or not), perhaps ask similar question of them to flood them with queries (don't copy it word for word, they get sick of that and just ignore them all)
Just my little bit to help our NSW neighbours.
Cheers T.

Im a Victorian based amateur prospector/fossicker occasionally travelling to/through Central West NSW to undertake a few days of prospecting for gold.

My methods include both metal detecting with an electronic metal detector and where there is access, a stream sluice for use within the waterway or a battery driven pump to provide water flow for what is generically called a Highbanker.

Recent knowledge of a publication Compliance Priorities July - Dec 2017 (RMB reference PUB17/447) makes specific mention of Illegal Fossicking (Sector Fossicking, Period Sept - Nov. 2017), I am now somewhat concerned as to what a can and cant legally do in relation to in stream/streamside prospecting/fossicking.

To ensure my compliance can you please provide and confirm precisely what your interpretations are of:-

Exactly what do you deem to be a Highbanker, I assume there must be a definition detailing exactly what a highbanker actually is to enable enforcement officers to determine that an alleged offender is actually using one.

Exactly what you deem to be the actual process and method of highbanking.

Exactly where the use of such a devise is deemed illegal, would this include its use on private property (i.e. a campground or ratepayer backyard).

Exactly what you deem to be a sluice, essentially the same as a highbanker but powered by water flow directly from a watercourse rather than a battery/petrol driven pump, again I assume there should be a definition within within the relevant act.

Exactly what is meant by a Compliance Priority .

As the Compliance Priority makes reference specifically to Highbanking can I safely assume that sluicing, where all other aspects/references to the relevant Act are in compliance, is a legal pastime that will not be prosecuted.

I was led to believe that till now highbanking had been deemed a legitimate form of prospecting/fossicking for gold. There now appears to be a change in interpretation can you provide any reason for this departmental shift in interpretation/compliance/enforcement.

I further note that although the overall Compliance Priorities are relevant to a July - Dec 2017 period those specific to Illegal Fossicking make mention of a Sept. to Dec. 2017 timeframe.
Is this to indicate that come the end of the compliance period you intend to revert to the previous application whereby highbanking was deemed an acceptable form of prospecting/fossicking.

Await you responses to ensure my travels and fossicking experience within NSW are within your sometimes confusing regulations.

Tom Mohr
Good on you Tom.This letter is very well worded,looking forward to their answers.
Teemore's letter is a beauty but it does involve some risk...once you ask in writing and get an answer... there is no going back. Best you get is to challenge the response.

Let me explain...

last year I phoned a Mines Inspector in QLD to ask about highbanking in QLD (by the way QLD has a dedicated Fossicking Act and a dedicated Fossicking Regulations).

My read of the QLD Act suggested it was ambiguous about using a banker.

Anyway, Mines Inspector tells me what he reckons and explains the ACT...then asks me if I have email so he can send me an email to confirm what he said.

Got his email and now I am stuck as I have a written response that I don't like as it says using a pump attached to a banker is illegal in QLD.

Using a banker where the water is hand fed (like an old time rocker is OK) and using a sluice is OK in QLD. He went on to say that pumping water by hand into a banker would be OK as they would deem it to be 'hand operated'

Most of my fossicking mates up here argue to death over this matter and no-one can agree on anything. Nearly all of us own and use high bankers with pumps.

At the end of the day, I am stuck because I have a personal letter from a Mines Rep and have lost any opportunity to 'claim ignorance'.

So asking the question is a great idea as long as the answer is accepted or used to mount an objection. :)
No offence dougy and i dont usually like to be negative but it seems NAPFA got no where on this issue already as they did what they wanted anyway without even telling you guys a single thing about it. What is NAPFAS next step on this issue?
No offense taken Pawny. :D :D
I am pretty sure there will be a response very soon.
The Regulator has been in talks with NAPFA's Committee
all week.
We all know how important this is and all we ask is just have
a bit of patience.
A lot of work has gone into this.
I see a few members asking others from all states to join NAPFA and lend their concern and actions to the issue that has arisen in NSW where highbankers are deemed illegal.

In another post I said it was great that NAPFA is there to champion concerns and seek change in NSW and that in Qld we are not that organised.

To me, the problem in NSW is just another demonstration that we need a national body with state based chapters to recognise that each state and territory seems to have different laws.

A single national organisation would have some real clout and would address the concern expressed by some NSW members that other states should join them as the problem in NSW will just spread. It might or it might not spread to other states.

It's a real shame that when these issues arise, people don't care until it affects them. Now everyone in NSW are jumping up and down and would like those in other states to support them. I will be doing that...as a Queenslander I will join NAPFA and support its actions on this matter.

While there is so much focus on NSW and highbanking a little story.... on 29 Dec 2015 a Qld member of PA posted in the PA Forum a post called "Change.org Petition for Qld Fossickers" and asked all members to read, sign and pass it on.

As a matter of interest...that post got 15033 views and 169 responses.

Despite 15000 views, that petition (seeking improvements for fossickers in Qld and opening up of more fossicking areas) could not raise even 1000 signatures and still sits a couple of hundred short of the 1000 signature target that was hoped for.

18 months after asking for help from all PA members we are still struggling to make the petition effective and those championing it are frustrated to say the least.

I am hopeful that all members of PA will support NAPFA and get this ridiculous highbanking law changed. When that is done, Qld fossickers would also like some help. :)
It has been great, but not all surprising, to see such an active response from fossickers on this sluicing matter. THANK YOU! :Y:

NAPFA notes that various suggestions are being put forward to protest against this unreasonable policy and to seek to have it fixed. These range from letters and petitions to rallies and media activity.

While individuals are free to undertake their own campaigns, at this stage, our view is to leave it with NAPFA as we are in dialogue with both Planning, Environment, Resources and Energy (PERE) and the Resources Regulator on how to get a fair and reasonable outcome for fossickers.

If you have not done so already, I would urge you to read our May 2017 Sluicing Report

http://www.napfa.net/upload/NAPFA Regulation Changes to DRE 2017 Final .pdf

because it provides a comprehensive review on the current policy, why it needs to change and how it needs to change. It is possible that you wont agree with all of it, but I can assure you we have consulted at length within the fossicking community, and with manufacturers, in arriving at our final position.

We have an important meeting next week with PERE where we hope that resolution of this issue can be fast-tracked. Our immediate goal is to prepare for that meeting.

Depending on what comes out of the meeting, then we may well seek to rally fossickers and sluicers from all corners of NSW and elsewhere in a strategic communications campaign aimed at overturning this unfair and flawed regulation.

If you are not already a NAPFA member, please get on board as a member and support the organisation that is supporting your fossicking interests. Here is a link to our membership page



Stephen Dangaard
Have signed and posted to facebook page :Y: All power to our Qld brothers and sisters..the Force is with you ]:D cheers ..reefer(Rossco).
Sincerely appreciate the update from Stephen Dangaard on the course of action in light of the betrayal of PERE.with their 'Strong-arm' tactics in the face of a concerted effort by the NAPFA Executive to build mutual trust and respect as part of the general cause of fossickers and the 'Highbanker' issue in particular. It does not surprise me however that all the 'TALKING', they have done appears to have been a downright subterfuge..a plot, calculated to deceive us of their real intentions, being to persist with their ill thought out regulations which fly in the face of constructive and 'facts based' opposition.
We need a 'Stockade' type protest to complement efforts being done at the departmental level by NAPFA.We need to be seen as, 'in their face' we need to be seen as the Mum and Dad and the Kids, being trodden on by Big Ugly Beaurecrats.
We need to take Action! Because Action Speaks Louder Than WORDS.
I've got my flag, my resolve and a well traveled ice box to hold some liquid refreshments :cool:

Don't let the bastards win!!!!!
No response as yet, but time will tell .....
While I appreciate all the effort that volunteer organisations such as PMAV and NAPFA (and other states equivalents) put in to argue the case for prospectors/fossickers I doubt that they will ever get the voice and exposure that National Parks associations receive. For many years I actively worked on amateur fishing related issues at local, state and national levels and appreciate the time, effort and sacrifice that volunteers put in, more power to you and also thanks.

In regard to national parks associations (and that type of Org.) THEY have the ability to argue, and get public reaction to the plight of cute furry creatures that Joe Blow public associates with and such things get them PUBILICTY and FUNDS. (i'm not saying that it's them who are a problem with the current Highbanker issue just trying to show why they seem to have the power that we don't).

Lets not kid ourselves they have heaps of cash, paid 'volunteers' and can afford the expense of lobbyists (you'd be surprised at how many businesses/local councils etc utilise people such as ex Vic. Premier Jeff Kennet), to help push their causes, the use of such lobbyists also gets them heard in parliament etc.

To make inroads Mr Joe Blow public needs to see the positives that PMAV/NAPFA/etc bring to the nation, at a local/state/national level.
Not an easy task, the one suggestion I had for the PMAV to to this was the production and erection of signs within detecting areas advising people to "Fill Their Holes" with the PMAV logo prominent and visible .... people, not just those detecting but all 'bush user' people, start to see and associate the PMAV with something positive. Not a big effort but it would have been a start.
I'm sure there must be other similar low cost initiatives that could be implemented. Power is in getting the public to recognise you.

Sincerely thank this that are volunteering their time,
Cheers Tom

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