For explorers

Opportunities generated by the Goldfields Ground Release

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.

Access the entry point to Geovic.

The tender process

Subject to licensing, successful tenderers will gain the exclusive mineral exploration rights for the relevant block(s).  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.

Tenders will be evaluated against the published tender evaluation criteria.

To ensure fairness and transparency of the process, the tender evaluation is being conducted by an Independent Assessment Panel, supported by two advisory panels for assessing proposals relating to responsible minerals exploration and Traditional Owner matters. The tender and evaluation process is being conducted in accordance with strict probity requirements and is being overseen by an external independent expert Probity Advisor.

The successful tenderer for each block will be invited to apply  for a minerals exploration licence over the relevant block.

The tender opened on 29 October 2019 and closed on 14 February 2020. A one-day tender briefing for potential tenderers was held on Friday 13 December 2019.

All presentations were recorded and have been uploaded to the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions youtube channel.  Video transcripts of the presentations are available.

Tender update – evaluation phase

Evaluation of tender responses for minerals exploration rights is underway.

This infographic is an overview of the six phases of the tender, from ground selection to granting of minerals exploration licences.

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 Moz 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 Moz 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

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

Land use planning to understand features important to communities

The North Central Victorian Goldfields Ground Release comprises over 1500 square kilometres of land within the Campaspe, Greater Bendigo and Mount Alexander council areas. It extends across parts of the traditional lands of the Dja Dja Wurrung, Taungurung and Yorta Yorta nations.

Prior to releasing the ground, the department met with regional authorities, organisations and local farming and community leaders to identify features within the proposed ground release area that required specific safeguarding during minerals exploration.

Jacobs Engineering assisted the department in gaining a better understanding of local land use patterns; land planning and environmental values; as well as water, infrastructure, and heritage features of significance.

Jacobs Engineering accessed data held by councils, water agencies, planning authorities, land managers and resource managers. Almost 50 categories of significant features were identified.  How these features could be protected was also examined.

Have a look at the interactive overview summarising the Jacobs Engineering assessment.

More information

Page last updated: 02 Jun 2021