Minerals exploration and development is an important part of Victoria’s regional economy, bringing investment and jobs to regional areas and communities.
Western Victoria has a long history of continuous exploration for minerals such as gold and other metals. In fact, over the last decade, an average of around 26 per cent of land in Victoria has been under minerals exploration licences.
Attracting new investment to western Victoria – the Stavely ground release
New scientific research indicates that there is potential for discoveries of copper, gold and other metals to be made in western Victoria.
On 22 June 2018, the department released ground (11 blocks) for minerals exploration in an area known in geological terms as the Stavely Arc. To encourage responsible minerals explorers with good work programs, social values and a commitment to working with local communities and landholders, a tender was held to select the best explorers to have the right to apply for a minerals exploration licence.
On 22 October 2018, the Government announced that six companies had successfully tendered for the right to apply for a minerals exploration licence. The successful companies were selected against pre-determined criteria by an independent panel of experts. The six successful companies will now have their minerals exploration licence applications considered, using the processes set out under the Minerals Resources (Sustainable Development) Act.
Information for local communities
We understand that landholders and residents want to be more informed and have an opportunity to express their views on the benefits, risks and safeguards for minerals exploration and, in the much longer term, potential mining.
Our approach is to help landholders and local communities better understand what exploration involves, the licensing process and the robust regulatory environment which safeguards flora, fauna, waterways, aquifers, cultural and indigenous heritage features.
Over the past few years, the department has engaged with community leaders, key agencies and local government to learn about the region’s experiences with minerals exploration and to identify measures to help farmers and community members better understand the region’s geology, minerals exploration and how it’s regulated.
Regular and ongoing engagement with community leaders over recent years has also enabled the department to better understand land planning, environmental, water and heritage features within the region that are regionally important to local communities, and to consider whether minerals exploration (given the way it is regulated) might affect these features.
Throughout July and August 2018, department staff held nine pop-in information sessions for local communities and landholders in towns across the Stavely Arc region. Sessions were held in Mortlake, Dunkeld, Willaura, Cavendish, Laharum, Balmoral, Ararat, Nhill and Horsham. In the July to October 2018 period department staff also attended a number of agricultural events to meet with landholders and community members.
The department is committed to an ongoing conversation about minerals exploration.
Online discussions temporarily replacing community meetings
Westrock Minerals Pty Ltd has been issued the third Minerals Exploration Licence from 2018’s Stavely Ground Release. The Victorian-based company will be searching for minerals in an area covering Glenthompson, Caramut, Chatsworth, Minjah and west of Mortlake (PDF9.0 MB).
Interactive online information sessions were held on 10-11 June to introduce the licensee and answer questions about minerals exploration, landholder rights, explorer obligations and environmental safeguards. These sessions also included information about a land access consent tool that can assist landholders with negotiations with explorers.
Online information sessions will replace our regular community meetings for the foreseeable future. We will return to face-to-face meetings when safe to do so. In the meantime, we can organise individual telephone discussions or small online group meetings to address local concerns.
For further information, please contact Donna Mongan, Senior Engagement Officer, on 0436 662 399.
Past information sessions
Wonwondah, Laharum and Brimpaen sessions
Wonwondah on 11 November 2019
Laharum on 12 November 2019
Brimpaen on 13 November 2019
Cavendish and Balmoral information sessions
Cavendish on 17 June 2019
Balmoral on 18 June 2019
Jeparit information session
Jeparit Bowls Club on 13 March 2019
Engagement with the exploration companies
As part of the tender evaluation process the six successful companies were judged on their proposed approach to engage landholders and the local community. The department sought to raise the bar over and above what the legislation currently requires.
If they gain an exploration licence, these companies will be closely monitored to ensure that engagement with both landholders and local communities uses best practice and stakeholders are kept informed on a regular and ongoing basis, at both the beginning of their exploration activities and throughout the duration of their licence.
Keeping communities informed
The department will continue to keep you up-to-date via this website, a community newsletter and in small group and through conversations within your local communities.
Staff are available for on-on-one and small group meetings to provide more information about:
- the tender outcome and licensing process
- minerals exploration and how it is regulated
- the geology of the region.
If you're interested in meeting with us please register your interest.
Read our June 2020 Newsletter, Edition 6
If you live in the local community and would like to be kept up-to-date on information as the tender progresses you can sign up to our newsletter.
Read our past editions.
Find out more
Did you know?
Minerals exploration projects usually start with activities which have no or low impact on the ground (like surveying or soil sampling) over larger areas. As the explorer learns more about the geology, they refine their exploration program to focus progressively on much smaller areas within the minerals licence boundary.
Page last updated: 22 Jul 2020