The Department of Minerals and Energy will run an education campaign to help counter the rise in illegal gold prospecting in Western Australia.
Mines Minister George Cash said illegal prospecting had always been a problem in the industry, but it was increasing with the availability on the market of new, improved metal detectors.
"Illegal prospecting infringes on the livelihood of bona fide prospectors and leaseholders, many of whom struggle to make a living as it is," Mr Cash said.
He said the Department of Minerals and Energy had limited resources to deal with unauthorised mining activities and the remoteness of many areas being 'worked' by people using metal detectors made policing difficult.
"To help combat the problem, the department is informing the public of the legal requirements of prospecting with an extensive State-wide campaign," he said.
Posters and pamphlets stating a person's rights and responsibilities when prospecting have been distributed to all tourist centres, tour groups, shire offices and shops that sell prospecting equipment.
"Ignorance is no excuse, but there are many prospectors who genuinely do not know where they are allowed to prospect and the information pamphlet will give them relevant contacts," Mr Cash said.
The Minister said illegal prospecting carried a fine of up to $10,000 and provision for the warden to order rehabilitation of any damage caused. It was important that the seriousness of the offence was more widely known.
Pamphlets and posters were also available at the Department of Minerals and Energy offices throughout the State.
Media contact: Mark Thompson 222 9595