For explorers

New opportunities - the Goldfields Ground Release Tender

The Victorian Government is offering experienced and progressive minerals explorers the opportunity to secure minerals exploration rights to one or more of four large parcels of prospective ground within Victoria’s north central goldfields region via a competitive, merit based tender.

There remains potential for an undiscovered gold endowment of 75 million ounces (Moz) across the northern Bendigo, Stawell, and Melbourne geological zones. Simulations predict that up to 32 Moz of this undiscovered gold endowment occurs under cover in the northern Bendigo Zone – the blocks available for tender cover part of that area. The Bendigo Zone contains some of the most gold enriched crust in Australia - at least 24 Moz of gold has been produced from this Zone.

Detailed geoscience data packages and resulting interpretations are available for the northern Bendigo Zone – most of this work relates to the Geological Survey of Victoria’s Gold Undercover Initiative that was completed in 2009. The geology is dominated by Ordovician turbidites sequences of the Castlemaine Group that host a series of world-class orogenic gold systems and have been intruded by post-mineral Devonian A-type granites. Younger cover units of the Murray Basin cover these rocks in the northern portion of the Bendigo Zone – these progressively thicken to the north.

The North Central Victorian Goldfields Ground Release area immediately surrounds the Fosterville gold deposit.  The Fosterville Gold Mine is the largest gold producer in Victoria and between 2014 and 2018, has increased annualised gold production by 315 per cent (from ~116 koz per annum to ~367 koz per annum. Production guidance for 2019 is 550 to 610 koz at an operating cash cost of $130 to $150 per oz sold). This increase is related to a transition in mineralisation style from disseminated arsenopyrite-hosted gold to free gold – illustrated by a 540 per cent increase in gold head grade over the same period (4.6 g/t Au to 24.8 g/t Au). Near mine minerals exploration success at Fosterville continues and current total gold endowment (including historical production) is 9 Moz.

Find out more about Victorian gold.

View the area maps, georeferenced images and shape files.

The tender and licensing

Successful tenderers will gain the exclusive right to apply and be considered for a minerals exploration licence for the relevant block.

The emphasis is on gold exploration. Proposals for other minerals will also be accepted, other than for coal and for gas, which are excluded from the tender.

The opportunity is offered to experienced minerals explorers who can demonstrate a history of responsible exploration and a commitment to working closely with Traditional Owner groups, local stakeholders and communities.

The tender opens on 29 October 2019 and closes at 6pm (AEDT) on 31 January 2020.

The invitation to tender documents are available at tenders.vic.gov.au.

Information session and industry briefings

We will hold a one-day technical information session for potential tenderers, featuring presentations by Geological Survey of Victoria about the geology of the ground release area and the publicly available geoscience data.

A tender briefing will immediately follow the technical session.  The tender briefing will be video-taped and made available to registered tenderers from post the briefing.

A Traditional Owners briefing is planned on the same day, to provide potential tenderers with the opportunity to hear from the Traditional Owner groups within the ground release area about their preferences and expectations of explorers.

Details of these briefings are outlined on the North Central Victorian Goldfields Ground Release page of the Buying for Victoria Suppliers Portal (formely TendersVic) at tenders.vic.gov.au.

A globally renowned gold province

With more than 80 million ounces of gold mined since 1851, recent exciting gold exploration outcomes and increased gold production in the central goldfields region in recent times has seen Victoria resurgence internationally as gold exploration destination.

The Geological Survey of Victoria estimates that there may be up to 75 million ounces of undiscovered gold under cover in northern Victoria, at greater depth than has previously been explored.  The central and north central goldfields, located in the Bendigo geological zone, hold promise, with up to an estimated 32 million ounces of gold yet to be found.

Victoria features access to high quality transport and utilities infrastructure, established global markets and export pathways, and boasts a highly skilled, local workforce.  Melbourne is a global mining hub and corporate home to many large mining and mining services companies.

Reducing exploration risk

Underpinning the tender is a comprehensive program being implemented by the Victorian Government to reduce minerals exploration risk, build community understanding and confidence and attract experienced, progressive and responsible minerals explorers.

The North Central Victorian Goldfields Ground Release includes:

  • Pre-competitive geoscience data and knowledge to support evaluation of the geology and perspectivity;
  • Land use planning studies about the regional context, key land uses and features of importance to local communities within the blocks, to assist minerals exploration evaluation, planning and activities; and
  • Engaging with Traditional Owners, local authorities, stakeholders and community group representatives about the tender and minerals exploration and mining more broadly.

Pre-competitive geoscience

A geological overview of the ground release area and the four blocks offered is provided in the tender documents.

To assist exploration efforts, the Geological Survey of Victoria has interpreted and compiled a large volume of geoscience information, knowledge and data into regional geoscience datasets which are available at tenders.vic.gov.au.

This includes historical GSV maps, associated reports and geophysical data for the region which are available for download.

Understanding land uses and features important to communities

To better understand the regional context, we completed an inventory of regionally significant environmental, cultural, infrastructure and land use features and values within the ground release area and features that are important to local communities. This study also considered how these features are safeguarded by legislation and regulations.

Tender process

Experienced and progressive minerals explorers with strong social values and who are committed to working closely with Traditional Owners, landholders and local communities are invited to apply for one or more of the four blocks offered through the tender.

Tenders will be evaluated against the published tender evaluation criteria.

To ensure fairness and transparency of the process, the tender assessment will be conducted by an evaluation panel, independent of government, supported by two advisory panels, evaluating tender proposals relating to responsible exploration and Traditional Owner matters.

The tender and evaluation process is being conducted in accordance with strict probity requirements and overseen by an external independent expert Probity Advisor.

Applications for licensing

For each block for which a successful tender is selected, the successful tenderer will be invited to apply for a minerals exploration licence over that block. A company may be successful in securing the right to apply for a minerals exploration licence over more than one block. The proposals submitted by the successful tenderers for each block will form the basis of the exploration licence application. The tender response will provide sufficient information for a licence application to be assessed by Victoria’s Earth Resources Regulation unit. The proposals of successful bidders will be automatically forwarded to Earth Resources Regulation, which is part of the Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions.

More information

Page last updated: 29 Oct 2019