State steps up search for valu­able min­er­als

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

New geo­science re­search, data and ten­ders show western Vic­to­ria might have enough cop­per, gold and other valu­able min­eral de­posits to drive a new wave of in­vest­ment and jobs.

The find­ings are pro­vid­ing the State Govern­ment with in­cen­tive to call for ten­ders for min­ing ex­plo­ration in a Stavely Arc precinct as part of its $15-mil­lion TAR­GET Min­er­als Ex­plo­ration Ini­tia­tive.

Vic­to­rian Re­sources Min­is­ter Tim Pal­las spoke with stu­dents dur­ing a visit to Ararat Col­lege on Fri­day about the science in­volved in de­ter­min­ing what valu­able min­er­als might lie be­neath the sur­face of the ge­o­log­i­cal Stavely Arc.

His visit co­in­cided with the re­lease of new geo­science data and ten­ders for ex­plo­ration of the Stavely precinct that would in­volve up to 11 pre-de­fined blocks, cover­ing a 9500-square kilo­me­tre area stretch­ing north from Hamil­ton, west from Ararat and in­clud­ing Hor­sham, Dim­boola and Nhill dis­tricts.

Na­tional and state parks and other wilder­ness ar­eas would be off-lim­its to the ex­plo­ration and would ex­clude coal and gas.

Low-im­pact min­er­als ex­plo­ration ac­tiv­ity such as sam­pling, sur­veys, map­ping and anal­y­sis could start next year.

The ten­der process is aimed at at­tract­ing ex­pe­ri­enced min­er­als ex­plor­ers, with cre­den­tials in com­mu­nity en­gage­ment and work­ing closely with land­hold­ers across the whole min­ing life­cy­cle.

Min­ing boom

Mr Pal­las said suc­cess­ful ex­plo­ration in the tar­get area could bring a min­ing boom to western Vic­to­ria, and with it, hun­dreds of jobs.

“We’re at­tract­ing min­er­als ex­plor­ers with strong so­cial val­ues to in­vest in western Vic­to­ria and pro­vide long-term, high-qual­ity jobs in towns like Ararat and Stawell,” he said.

Mr Pal­las said many re­gional Vic­to­rian cen­tres were thriv­ing due to jobs in the min­er­als in­dus­try.

He said re­cent gold dis­cov­er­ies at Foster­ville Gold Mine, which em­ployed 445 peo­ple, had been a boon for Bendigo’s econ­omy.

Mr Pal­las added the govern­ment was im­prov­ing the odds for would-be de­vel­op­ers by pro­vid­ing high-qual­ity geo­science data, TAR­GET grants and a fo­cus on suit­able ar­eas for min­er­als ex­plo­ration.

He said a new ap­proach would re­sult in ear­lier and closer en­gage­ment with com­mu­ni­ties to en­sure min­er­als ex­plo­ration was bal­anced with other land uses.

Min­er­als ex­plor­ers could only ac­cess pri­vate prop­erty with the consent of a land­holder or com­pen­sa­tion agree­ment, and their ac­tiv­i­ties were care­fully reg­u­lated.

“This all bal­ances a need to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment and land­holder rights with job cre­ation and di­rect in­vest­ment across western Vic­to­ria,” he said.

Navarre Min­er­als an­nounced ear­lier this month that re­sults from ex­plo­ration drilling had re­vealed a St Ar­naud Gold Project had sev­eral sim­i­lar­i­ties to the Foster­ville de­posit.

The drilling sites were north-west of St Ar­naud’s his­toric gold­field and re­sults sug­gest the po­ten­tial for ‘eco­nomic gold min­er­al­i­sa­tion’.

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