Engaging with minerals exploration companies
Minerals exploration companies have a duty to consult with local communities for the duration of their licence and must give locals opportunities to provide feedback about their activities.
As part of the tender process, the six successful companies were evaluated on their proposed approach to community engagement and commitment to informing stakeholders.
Minerals exploration is regulated to protect communities and the environment. A robust regulatory framework means that well-planned and managed exploration projects should have little or no lasting impact on the environment and impose minimal disruption to other land users and the community.
The Code of Practice for Mineral Exploration (pdf 1.44 MB) and Community Engagement Guidelines for Mining and Mineral Exploration in Victoria help the industry to understand their requirements under the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990 and the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) (Mineral Industries) Regulations 2019.
New licensees are also invited to participate in community information sessions and events organised through Earth Resources.
Minerals exploration activities
The purpose of undertaking exploration activities is to prove an economically viable resource. The search for minerals involves a wide range of activities from desk-top literature reviews and surveys to drilling programs.
Once a minerals exploration licence is granted, a licence holder usually starts looking for the most appropriate places to commence exploration targets.
An explorer’s initial reconnaissance does not involve explosives and does not involve removal or damaging of any tree or shrub. Reconnaissance activities include geological mapping and geochemical sampling (rock chip, soil and stream sediment sampling), geophysical surveys and airborne geophysical surveys.
A step up from reconnaissance activities, explorers may undertake low impact exploration which including drilling for core samples, the construction of tracks, and limited removal of certain native vegetation.
These activities have relatively low social and environmental impacts, do not require an approved work plan and can be carried out provided the required public liability insurance, bond and landowner consents are in place.
Whilst a work plan is not required for reconnaissance or low-impact activities, explorers must adhere to all standard licence conditions and comply with the Code of Practice for Minerals Exploration.
Before an explorer can access private land to undertake any activity, they must obtain written consent or informed verbal consent.
For low impact exploration activities that involve disturbing the ground disturbing or the removing native vegetation written consent is required.
Land access consent tool
New support for landholders is being trialled as part of the Stavely Minerals Exploration Initiative. This includes free information sessions for landholders about minerals exploration, the land access process, negotiating land access and compensation agreements with explorers.
Workshops are also being held for local farm management, financial and legal practitioners to equip them with the right information and boost capabilities around land access.
The department has developed a simple, voluntary land access consent and compensation agreement template with supporting guidance material, to help landholders negotiate land access with explorers.
The Commercial Consent Agreement for Access to Private Land in Victoria can be tailored to individual needs.
If you’re not involved in exploration activities in the Stavely Arc region, you can still use this material. We are interested in your feedback.
You can contact us by emailing Minerals Development Victoria.
Keeping you informed
The department is having conversations with people in the Stavely Arc region and will continue to provide opportunities for them to express their views on the benefits, risks and safeguards involved with minerals exploration and, in the much longer term, potential mining.
We have spoken with the region’s community leaders, key agencies and local government in order to identify and consider important land planning, environmental, water and heritage aspects and whether minerals exploration might affect these features.
We also learnt about their experiences with minerals exploration and ways to help landholders and the wider community better understand the region’s geology, minerals exploration and how it’s regulated.
Throughout July and August 2018, we held community sessions to help locals find out more about the Stavely Ground Release Initiative. Sessions were held in Mortlake, Dunkeld, Willaura, Cavendish, Laharum, Balmoral, Ararat, Nhill and Horsham.
Meetings with small and local community groups and landholders continued throughout the licence application process. We also attended several agricultural events to meet landholders and community members.
Following the licensing of Block 11 to P&G Forwood Pty Ltd, and Block 10 to WIM Resources Limited, community information sessions were held in June 2018 at Balmoral and Cavendish and at Wonwondah, Laharum and Brimpaen in November 2019.
Westrock Minerals Pty Ltd was issued the third Minerals Exploration Licence for Block 1 in April 2020. Online information sessions were held in June 2020, around Glenthompson, Caramut, Chatsworth, Minjah and west of Mortlake.
Gippsland Prospecting Pty Ltd was issued the fourth Minerals Exploration Licence for Block 4 in October 2020. Online information sessions were held in November 2020, for communities south of Ararat and Stawell, including Halls Gap, Moyston, Pomonal and Willaura.
Through these sessions agricultural landholders were informed about their rights during minerals exploration, environmental safeguards, and new tools to assist in negotiating land access consent and compensation agreements with minerals exploration companies.
Meetings and information sessions
We are committed to informing Victorians about minerals exploration and aim to ensure that anyone with an interest in minerals exploration and mining activities can provide feedback and have a say.
Over the coming months we will hold online information sessions and meetings to provide updates on minerals exploration and hear community views. Minerals Development Victoria presentations cover minerals exploration and its regulatory framework, licensing, tender outcomes, and environmental, heritage and other legislated safeguards.
If you are interested in meeting with Minerals Development Victoria, we can arrange individual telephone discussions or small online group meetings to address local concerns.
Please register your interest.
We will continue to keep you informed via this website, community newsletters and online information sessions.
For further information, please contact Donna Mongan, Senior Engagement Officer, at email@example.com or on 0436 662 399.
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.
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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: 30 Sep 2021