State steps up search for valuable minerals
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.
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’.