Exploration freed up in western Victoria

Applications are now open for minerals exploration in parts of western Victoria, following the lifting of an exemption which temporarily restricted minerals activities across an area of around 11,000 square kilometres.

Minerals exploration licence applications can now be made for ground which has potential to uncover copper, other base metals and gold along with mineral sands and gypsum.

The newly available ground covers parts of the Wimmera, north and east of Hamilton and around Mortlake, from within the geological zone known as the Stavely Arc.

Geologists believe that 500 million years ago western Victoria was on the border of a super-continent called Gondwana, giving it a similar geological environment at the time to the copper-rich Andes in South America.

Exploration is different to mining, as an exploration licence gives the holder exclusive rights to search for evidence of minerals within an area using mostly low impact methods such as mapping, surveying, soil sampling and drilling.

It is expected that minerals exploration companies work closely with traditional and local landowners, as well as the broader community, in addition to meeting strict regulatory conditions.

Licence applications will be accepted for assessment on a first in basis. Multiple applications for the same area received on the same day will be subject to a competitive assessment and subsequent public comment process run by Earth Resources Regulation.

Successful applicants will be required to publicly consult on any licence application before it is considered for approval.

The Geological Survey of Victoria has been briefing and updating stakeholders across western Victoria about the current state of exploration and talking to communities about landholder access rights via street stands recently at Nhill, Dimboola, Mortlake and Terang.

Information about the process for licensing and where ground is available can be found at earthresources.vic.gov.au/stavely

Geological Survey of Victoria Director Paul McDonald said demand for gold, copper and other materials used to make technology and renewable energy products is high.

“We are seeing more companies investing in exploration activities across regional Victoria – they are spending seven times the amount they were six years ago,” he said.

“Minerals exploration is not permitted in national parks, wilderness parks or state parks; explorers must obtain consent of landholders before accessing private property.”

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