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Minerals Exploration

Victoria has a long and continuous history of exploration for minerals dating back to the gold rush of the 1850s. Mineral deposits which may be found in the Stavely Arc include copper, gold, silver, tin, lead and other metals. These minerals are in demand as they are used in nearly all aspects of modern life – in homes, businesses and across many industries.

Minerals exploration is the process of looking for mineral deposits in the ground and includes techniques that have no or low impacts on land, such as aerial surveying, ground mapping, rock sampling, water and soil testing, and focused drilling.

Technology, research and scientific methods are continually evolving, which means that some exploration activities can now be done without the need to enter private properties at all (for example, airborne surveys using light aircraft).

New mineral discoveries, if developed, bring local jobs, new investment and other economic benefits to regional communities.

Where is minerals exploration allowed?

All areas in Victoria are open to minerals exploration unless it is prohibited under legislation.

Exploration is not permitted in national parks, wilderness parks or State parks.

Minerals exploration is carefully regulated in Victoria to ensure minerals exploration is conducted in a manner which meets environmental and other standards.

Minerals explorers must have a licence

In Victoria, minerals explorers must have a licence before they can start any exploration activities. This would usually be a minerals exploration licence or retention licence.

These licences relate to a defined parcel of land, which may include privately owned and/or Crown (i.e. government owned) land. Licences are issued and managed by the Victorian Minister for Resources, through the department.

Exploration licences are generally issued for five years, with the option to renew the licence usually for a further five years.

A full minerals exploration program typically takes up to five years or longer, and in most cases will not find a sizable mineral deposit. If a significant deposit is found, a licence holder may apply for a mining licence, which is required to build a mine and extract mineral resources.

The process for being granted approval to build and operate a mine in Victoria is very rigorous and typically takes several years.

It involves detailed environmental, heritage, land planning, water and other approval processes and assessments, and detailed studies to assess potential environmental, social and economic impacts.

Extensive consultation with communities is required and members of the public have the right to lodge objections and make submissions.

To meet all the regulatory requirements and to attract required investment, it can take up to 10 to 15 years for a mine to become operational.

Less than one per cent of exploration projects typically progress to establishing a mine.