Mining advocate: prepare for growth
Victoria’s peak mining advocacy group has urged Wimmera communities to prepare for a potential boom in mining operations in the next few years.
Minerals Council of Australia’s Victoria Division has predicted transformational socio-economic conditions in the region if mining projects either underway or in planning stages live up to expectations.
Victorian Division executive director James Sorahan, on tour of western Victoria, said an area stretching north from Ararat through Northern Grampians, Horsham, Yarriambiack and Buloke shires, was on the cusp of becoming a mining hot spot.
“The chances are very high for significant growth in mining operations in the region, with Horsham primed to be a mining hub,” he said.
“It’s all pointing to a potentially bright future for jobs, business and growth and it is likely to start in the next two to three years.”
The Minerals Council of Australia is the country’s leading advocate for the profitability and sustainability of Australia’s minerals industry.
Companies responsible for more than 85 percent of Australia’s annual mineral production are MCA members.
Mr Sorahan said he had been busy meeting industry, business and local government representatives during his regional tour.
“My main purpose has been to talk with councils about what is on the mining horizon. Mining in Victoria is a sleeping giant, especially in mineral sands, and we want councils and communities to be ready early for what hopefully will be a huge future in mining,” he said.
“This includes looking at local skill needs, jobs in a variety of sectors, education opportunities, partnerships and how locals can be skilled up to meet industry demand.
“It involves talking about environmental impacts, the rehabilitation of land and working with agriculture and tourism to complement the regional economy.”
Mr Sorahan said the influence of mining in regional development would come down to factors such as international commodity markets, government policies and the direction of companies.
“The region is home to one of the largest deposits of mineral sand and rare earths, and there is a high prospect for gold and copper,” he said.
“The industry is busy exploring the viability of the deposits. If it happens, and chances are that it will, flow-on benefits will depend on many factors.
“We want to work with communities, schools, councils, agencies and the State Government to ensure future opportunities can come to fruition.”
Mr Sorahan said a booming mining sector in the Wimmera would bring hundreds of direct and flow-on jobs.
“Mining has the highest paid fulltime jobs of any sector. If it proceeds as it appears it might, employees will look at bringing in their families and the impact of more people settling should have a large flow-on impact on the regional economy,” he said.
“It is another industry for western Victoria – coming on top of agriculture and tourism – leading to more diverse and resilient regional economies.
“Growing populations mean more roads, schools, services, air services and so on.
“It will be a few years before it all happens. But if and when it does, it will be on us before we know it.”
Several mining companies are already busy on mineral-sand and gold projects across the Wimmera.
Mr Sorahan said a community mining forum would be in Ararat in November.