Northern Territory Government

Fossicking in the Northern Territory

Rights and obligations


Fossicking is a non-commercial, recreational activity allowing a person to collect, extract and remove a limited amount of rocks, minerals and crystals by means of digging by hand or using hand held implements, to a depth of up to one metre.

Authorised fossicking in the Northern Territory is permitted under the Mineral Titles Act (the Act) and Mineral Titles Regulations, which are administered by the Mineral Titles Division of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade, who are responsible to the Minister for Primary Industry and Resources.

This document briefly outlines the rights and obligations of the fossicker and the landowner/occupier of the land (the landowner) and/or the mineral title holder (title holder).

General information for the landowner or mineral title holder

(Regulations 100 and 103)

Fossickers are expected to conduct themselves in a lawful and courteous manner at any time they are engaged in fossicking, or other related activities, on relevant land or a mineral title area. Additionally fossickers are expected to respect the activities of the landholder, by leaving gates as they find them, (e.g. open or closed), remove rubbish and cause minimal disturbance.

Before entering certain areas to fossick, a person may be required to give at least seven days’ written notice (a fossicking notice) to the landowner and/or the title holder.  In circumstances where written consent is required, a fossicker must request consent in writing (a Fossicking Request PDF (175.2 KB)) from the landowner and/or title holder, at least 14 days in advance.  Entry onto the land is not permitted until consent is received.

Full details of land or mineral title areas that require a notice or request to be given is outlined in the information bulletin: fossicking - land access.

Rights of the landowner or title holder

Refusal of consent

(Regulations 104 and 105)

Where a fossicking request would substantially interfere with the landowner’s and/or title holder’s use of the land i.e. mustering, farming, exploration operations, the landowner and/or title holder may refuse a person’s fossicking request by giving written notice, stating the reasons for the refusal.  However, the landowner and/or title holder may not unreasonably refuse a fossicking request.

If the fossicker has entered the land to fossick, as authorised by section 168 of the Act ‘Constructive consent of landowner’ and the landowner subsequently gives notice refusing the fossicking request, the fossicker must leave the land without delay.

If the fossicker believes that consent has been unreasonably refused, the fossicker may apply to the Lands, Planning and Mining Tribunal to have the matter decided.

Withdrawal of consent

(Regulation 105)

The landowner and/or title holder who has consented to a person’s fossicking request may, by written notice to the fossicker, withdraw consent if they reasonably believe that the person has contravened requirements or conditions under the Act relating to fossicking, or the person’s fossicking is interfering with the use of the land i.e. cattle mustering, land improvements, exploration etc.

The landowner and/or title holder must give reasons for the refusal in the notice and on receipt of the notice, the fossicker must leave the relevant land without delay.

General rights and obligations of the fossicker

All land within the Territory is available for fossicking, provided the necessary notices and consents (where required) are obtained.

A person conducting authorised fossicking has the right to extract the following amounts of rocks, minerals or crystals:

  • 100gm of gold, including nuggets
  • 1kg of gemstones
  • 20kg of a mineral other than gold or gemstones
  • 100kg of mineral bearing material
  • 100kg of ornamental stones

If a fossicker is lucky enough to find a nugget/s in excess of 100gm, they can keep the gold provided that all other requirements including reporting, notification and any required consents have been complied with.

NOTE: This only applies to the discovery of a nugget/s weighing over 100gm each and does not imply an increase of the general prescribed amount of 100gm.

A person DOES NOT have the right to remove fossils, meteorite fragments, diamonds, aboriginal artefacts or heritage objects.

Compliance with conditions

(Section 143 and Regulation 110)

  • a fossicker in a declared fossicking area must comply with any conditions imposed by the Northern Territory Minister in addition to any other laws in force in relation to the land. Any specific conditions relating to a declared fossicking are outlined in the individual site information pages
  • if not within a declared fossicking area, a fossicker must comply with the reasonable conditions or requests of the landowner of the land on which he or she is fossicking; and
  • must not use water conserved artificially, such as a dam, on the land without the landowners consent.

Documents required to be in a person’s possession

(Section 168 and Regulations 108 and 110)

When carrying out fossicking activities, a person must have in their possession:

  • photographic identification of the person; and
  • in relation to land or a title area where a person is required to give a fossicking notice - proof that a fossicking notice was given;
  • in relation to all land where consent has been given to fossick – the document giving consent; or
  • where a person is required to obtain written consent of a landowner; has served the landowner and no written response is received within 2 months, consent is deemed. If a fossicker has entered the land under this condition, they are required to carry proof that they gave a fossicking request to the landowner.

The person must show the documents to any of the following persons who ask to see them and failure to do so can result in penalties:

  • the landowner/occupier of the land
  • if the land is in the title area of a mineral title, the title holder
  • an authorised officer or police officer.

The fossicker is also obligated to comply with other laws in force in relation to the land on which the fossicker is fossicking.