Video transcript: Stavely Block 3 Community Information Session 1

[Slide: Minerals exploration in Western Victoria - Stavely Ground Release Block 3]

Annie Farrow, Manager Resource Strategy and Industry Investment

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

Welcome to the first of two community information sessions organised by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions for information about minerals exploration in an area west of Ararat in an area known to us as Stavely Block 3.

My name is Annie Farrow and I manage a small team called Minerals Development Victoria within the department.

Thank you for taking some time out of your busy schedule to attend today.

I’d like to start by first acknowledging the traditional owners.

I’m coming from the lands of the Wurundjeri and Kulin nation peoples, and I pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.

So most of you will be joining us from various parts of Victoria so I would encourage you to take a moment to acknowledge the traditional owners in the lands from which you are coming.

I’d also like to acknowledge any elected officials from State, Federal and Local Government, particularly councillors from the two shires that are in this particular block which is Ararat Rural City and Moyne Shire Council.

So welcome, today’s session is really an opportunity for us to provide some more information about minerals exploration in western Victoria.

This really comes off the back of a recent licencing to a company called Stavely Minerals, you’ll hear from them a bit later this afternoon.

You’ll hear about their plans for exploration activity in this area.

This is the fifth licence that we’ve granted following an initiative undertaken by the department called the Stavely Ground Release which we commenced back in 2018.

We’ll give you a little bit more information and background to that as we go through this session.

We’ve held a couple of early sessions back in 2018-19, they were all live which was great to get out and talk with community members and landholders such as yourselves, unfortunately COVID has restricted us severely and we have to run these events virtually.

Just moving to the next slide please Brett.

[Slide: Microsoft Teams - Asking a question]

All of you are in this and only mode, so we can’t actually see you which is a bit disconcerting, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t ask a question.

And you’ll see that we’ve drawn a red box around, what we call the dialogue box or the conversation box real cartoons, that’s the chat function, and if you click on that chat function then you can type in a question.

We prefer that you type the questions in as you hear something that triggers a question, and we’ll be monitoring those, and at the end of the presentations we’ll come back to them and answer them.

You don’t have to worry about who will answer them we’ll field whether that should be Stavely Minerals or someone from the department.

So please feel free to ask those questions, we will also respond more formally by emailing the responses to all questions to people who registered for today, and you’ll get a copy of that.

Also, if you accidently drop-off, internet falls or you accidently click the exit button and you didn’t mean to, then just come back in the way that you’ve already come in.

If you have any other technical problems please contact my colleague John.

If you want to scribble down his number it’s on the bottom of this slide and he’ll be able to help you with some technical issues.

Just a reminder that this presentation is being recorded and we will send a link to that recording in a couple of weeks’ time when the transcription comes back.

We’ll also send you links to the Land Access Consent Tool and any other relevant information out with that recording link.

For those who have logged in by phone then we have your email address, so we’ll either email it or if you prefer we’ll post a hardcopy.

So just moving onto the agenda quickly please Brett.

[Slide: Agenda]

Thank you.

Now, before I introduce our speakers, we’ll have Brett Millsom and Donna Mongan from the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions to talk to you.

But we also have from Stavely Minerals, Lyall Grey, Stephen Johnson and Sarah Heard.

So in terms of what you can expect from today we’ll provide an overview of minerals exploration and what that actually entails, and a little bit about the Stavely Ground Release.

We’ll also talk to you about the Land Access Consent Tool which we developed to help landholders negotiate access consent to their private property in discussions with the exploration licensee, which is Stavely Minerals.

Then we’ll handover to the Stavely Minerals team who are going to describe a little bit about their exploration program, their approach, and how they approach talking to landholders and the local community.

And then at the end we’ll have an opportunity for lots of questions.

So, I think that’s probably all I need to mention at this stage.

I’m going to handover now to Brett Millsom who is the Manager of Stakeholder and Community Engagement within the minerals development team.

So thanks Brett and please go ahead.

Brett Millsom, Acting Manager Community & Stakeholder Engagement

[Slide: Exploration Licences Victoria]

Thank you Annie, and I think before we start talking about, I guess, some of the nuts and bolts of minerals exploration and what you might be able to expect, and also what it isn’t, it’s worthwhile just reflecting, I think, a bit on the history of minerals exploration and making the point that minerals exploration is not a new thing in Victoria, it’s happened for decades.

As many of you would be aware Victoria has quite a rich minerals exploration and mining history dating back, you know, as far back as the gold rushes and the like, and exploration for minerals has really continued since then for many, many years.

This map that you can see on your screens in front of you at the moment, you might find yourself wondering what are all those little, sort of, red oddly shaped boxes that you can see?

And, all of those actually represent current minerals exploration licences in Victoria.

At this point in time there’s about 45% of the state is currently covered by an exploration licence, and that’s sort of a fairly standard number that we see across the state at any one given time.

It is probably a little bit higher than what it might normally be on average, and that’s probably largely due to the fact that minerals exploration in this state is undergoing something, or experiencing something of a resurgence in recent years, and the state has been attracting record levels of investment in minerals exploration.

Now, the really important point to note with this slide here is, and it’s something we’ll touch on throughout the course of our presentation this afternoon, is the difference between minerals exploration and mining.

They’re two very different things, and mining activity is not permitted on any of those red squares that you see at the moment.

At this point in time, all of those are current minerals exploration licences and mining cannot be undertaken on an exploration licence, you need what’s called a mining licence for that.

So, while 45% of the state might be subject to an exploration licence, the footprint of the state that is actually subject to mining activity is much, much, much smaller, in fact it’s only something like 0.02% of the state is subject to a mining licence, obviously that’s the – or one of the relevant approvals that’s required to undertake mining activity in this state, and we’ll come to that a little bit later on.

[Slide: The Stavely Ground Release]

So Annie mentioned a little bit earlier about the Stavely Ground Release which is really the catalyst and the precursor, I guess, to why we’re here today, and you might asking yourself well what in fact is the Stavely Ground Release?

Well in 2018 the Victorian Government released a number of blocks of ground for minerals exploration in an area of western Victoria that’s known in geological terms as the Stavely Arc.

Now, based on some new geoscience research has been completed by the Geological Survey of Victoria, which is the government’s geological research body, there was reason to believe that that particular area that was released had prospectivity for copper, gold and various other base metals, and so a competitive merit-based tender was undertaken to encourage responsible minerals explorers to put in a bid for that ground, and as a result of that tender six companies have been successful.

And as we gather here today licences have been granted for five of those blocks, the most recent of which was Stavely Minerals which was granted its licence a couple of weeks ago.

And the remaining final block is currently progressing through a native title assessment.

[Slide: Minerals exploration, Stavely Block 3]

So you’re probably wondering, well, where is this block, how big is it?

And, there’s a picture of it up on your screens that you can see at the moment.

There is a higher resolution version of this map available on our website that we’ll circulate a link to post, in the days and weeks following this session, but that gives you an idea of where we’re talking about on your screens at the moment.

The block does cover an area of 865 square kilometres.

I won’t go into too much detail about the Stavely’s exploration program as the representatives that will join us a little bit later on this afternoon from Stavely Minerals are much, much better placed than I am to talk about that, but there are 906 properties that have been identified within that block, and some of you no doubt are on this call this afternoon as a result of a letter you received from us notifying you of the recent awarding of the licence and inviting you attend this afternoon’s session.

We did invite all landholders within the block to attend this session, the first of two that we’re doing, and the second is being held tomorrow evening.

One of the really important points to stress when it comes to minerals exploration is that it’s very targeted in nature and quite selective, and minerals exploration programs evolve over the course of their lifetime.

Minerals explorers will, as part of undertaking their exploration activities look to access a small number of sometimes privately held properties to undertake their exploration activities, and if you do find yourself in a position where an explorer might knock on your door and seek to negotiate some access to your property to do some work, agreement is required from the landholder for them to be able to do that.

Now we’ll come to a little bit later on in this afternoon’s session, some of the tools that are available to support you as the landholder if you do find yourself with an explorer knocking on your door looking to do exploration activities.

But I should really stress here that that number of landholders is generally quite small, it’s certainly quite small, it’s not going to be all landholders in the block, not even close to it, that are approached, it’s very small in nature.

[Slide: Minerals exploration - What does minerals exploration mean for landholders in the Stavely Block 3 area?]

So the question we often get asked is, well what is minerals exploration all mean?

So if you were to find yourself in, I guess, any one of those areas within the state that that 45% within any one of those red blocks that I brought up earlier in the presentation, what does it all mean and what might you realistically be able to expect to see?

And the short answer to this question is really not much at all.

Minerals exploration and mining are two very different activities, and we often see individuals confuse the two.

In terms of what you see during minerals exploration it’s really only the occasional trucks and vehicles that might be passing through a town or outside of town as a part of the exploration program.

There is a small economic benefit in the form of employees and contractors of the explorers spending money within the community on things like food, fuel at local service stations, accommodation, repairs at workshops, and as I just mentioned earlier there’ll be a very small number of landholders that will be asked for consent to access their land by the explorer for them to undertake that activity.

But really beyond that you don’t see much more.

Where obviously there’s a much greater profile is if that activity was to progress to mining, and I’ll come to shortly what that pathway might be if so that was to occur, noting that more often not exploration activity doesn’t progress any further than that.

[Slide: Minerals exploration - Exploring for minerals - gold, copper, other base metals]

If we’re talking about what minerals exploration is, I think it’s also important to stress what it isn’t, particularly in the context of this licence that’s recently been awarded to Stavely Minerals.

So under these licences, as part of the Stavely Ground Release, explorers are permitted to explore for gold, copper and for other base metals, they’re not permitted to explore for onshore gas and for coal, those commodities aren’t listed on the licence and therefore exploration for them is not permitted.

I should just stress about that onshore gas point.

Some of you may have seen the media coverage that the conventional onshore gas industry in Victoria has restarted as of 1 July this year, and while that is the case across the state, these particular licences don’t permit exploration for onshore conventional gas.

Fracking is prohibited right across Victoria irrespective of whether you’re exploring gas or otherwise, that ban has been legislated.

And there’s no exploration for minerals permitted in national parks such as the Grampians or state parks such as the Arapiles.

[Slide: Special places, features safeguarded]

Minerals exploration has co-existed for a number of years with a number of other land uses, one of those, the one that we most often see exploration co-existing with it is agricultural activities, and I think one of the key reasons for this is the fact that minerals exploration operates under a highly regulated regime in Victoria.

So the primary Act that regulates minerals activity in Victoria is the one that you can see up there towards the top left of the screen in the larger blue text, the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act, what we know as, or often call the MRSDA, and that’s supporting that is a Minerals Resources Sustainable Development, Minerals Industry’s Regulation that you can see in the bottom, towards the bottom right of the screen there.

But the two key legislative and regulatory instruments that permit and allow for minerals exploration activity to take place in this state, and I guess prescribe the conditions, regulations, safeguards and otherwise that the operations of the industry is subject to.

Importantly it’s worth noting though however, that there’s a whole host of other Acts, in fact more than 20 that also provide protection, safeguards, to other areas and other environmental aspects and so on and so forth that may have the potential to be impacted during minerals explorations.

That could include things like Aboriginal cultural heritage, waterways, flora and fauna, so and so forth, and it’s the responsibility of the explorer to make sure they comply with all Acts that are relevant to the operations, not just the MRSDA or the Mineral Resources Regulations, they’re required to comply with all that are relevant to the activity they’re looking to undertake.

[Slide: Timelines and conversion rates]

I mentioned earlier that minerals exploration and mining activity are two very different things, and the question we often get asked well isn’t exploration a precursor to mining activity?

And I guess it’s probably not as simple as a yes or no answer to that question, minerals exploration is done by explorers that are looking to identify a resource that might be suitable and economically viable to mine, but the likelihood of that actually resulting and an explorer actually identifying something that is economically viable to mine is quite low.

We put that statistic at something like 1 in 300 exploration licences will identify a resource that’s economically viable to mine, but if you talk to someone in the industry they’re far more conservative in that number, and I’ve heard figures such as 1 in 600 or even industry representatives go so far as to say it’s 1 in 1,000 as the conversion rate from an exploration licence to actually identifying an economically viable resource.

And even then if you do identify that resource, less than half of those deposits ever get developed.

And the other thing that’s worth noting there is the time it takes to progress from an exploration licence to potentially a mining licence if you do find yourself as an explorer that does happen to strike it lucky and identify one of those economically viable deposits, that time is on average in the order of 12 years to go from exploration licence to a commercial mining operation, and there’s a whole number of water that needs to go under the bridge to allow for that to occur.

Obviously one of the key things that’s needed is a mining licence and often that will require an EES process or at the preparation of an Environmental Effect Statement to allow for the full range of potential environmental impacts that might be associated with a mining project to be considered, and ongoing community and stakeholder engagement and the like.

So look, while that is often the intention of the explorer to identify that resource, that economically viable resource, more often than not it doesn’t result in anything further in exploration activity.

That doesn’t mean that the activity is done in vain, it all certainly provides really useful and valuable information about the underlying geology of the area that’s being explored.

[Slide: Negotiating land access and compensation]

So there is, as I mentioned earlier, a very small number of landholders that will be approached by explorers looking for consent to access their properties to undertake minerals exploration.

So in Victoria, as is the case in all states and jurisdictions within Australia, the Crown or the State owns the minerals on behalf of all Victorians, and when a minerals exploration licence is granted it does give the right to that explorer to undertake those activities over freehold land as well as Crown land.

However, if they are looking to undertake that over freehold land they must seek and secure permission from the landholder to do that.

So if you do find yourself in a position where you are approached by a landholder you might be starting to think well what are some of the tools that might be available to support me, and what are some of the things that I should be considering as I go about that.

And I’m pleased to welcome Donna Mongan from our team who will provide a bit more information about some of those tools that are available to support landholders in those discussions, so over to you Donna.

Donna Mongan, Senior Community Engagement Officer

[Slide: Commercial Consent Agreement - a tool to give you confidence in negotiating with explorers]

Hello everyone, I’m Donna Mongan, Senior Engagement Officer with Minerals Development Victoria.

As Annie mentioned, another purpose of this session is to introduce a tool that’s been developed by the department in conjunction with the Victorian Farmers Federation.

This tool is to help landholders and explorers discuss and agree on access to property for minerals exploration.

We call it a tool but it’s a commercial contract template supported by a guide.

The clauses in this template provide talking points you can use to negotiate consent.

One thing to remember about this tool is that it’s not mandatory to use it.

You might decide to use our tool or one you develop yourself.

You might get one from your Ag consultant or legal people, or a version that an explorer might provide.

It very much comes down to what works for the parties involved.

Even if you don’t get approached by an explorer it is handy to get a grip on the conditions under which someone can enter your property.

Farmers all over the state are being approached for many, many reasons for access to their properties, so it is good to get a handle on it.

But you don’t have to plan to use our template, it can just serve as a conversation starter with the explorer.

It will bring to mind any special conditions you might want to consider imposing as a part of the agreement, things like heritage listing, or for a trust for need to governance and for some other conditions.

It’s really about taking stock of what’s important to you, what’s absolutely critical to how you undertake your business, with so many requirements and regulations imposed on our agricultural sector nowadays, especially on those farmers who export.

[Slide: Commercial consent agreement clauses]

It’s a very flexible document to use, not everything in there will be relevant to you or your business or your landholding, so on the flipside not everything will be relevant to the explorer either and the activities they may wish to undertake.

That information screen right now are some of the clauses you can expect to be included in just about land access consent agreements.

These are some of those things you should be thinking about right up front.

By law an explorer much ensure their programs minimise interference with other activities taking place on the land.

There are also conditions worth thinking about that are not as common and would be specific to your property and your operation.

These could be for example reinforcing your property’s biosecurity, or other stringent requirements you might have.

This might relate to vehicle cleanliness, soil management, or protecting important flora and fauna, and also access during critical times such as lambing, calving and cropping seasons.

I’d like you to think about listing them all and bringing them up in your conversations.

Speak with your neighbours, they may have similar issues to contend with and it just gives a peace of mind that you’ve thought about it all.

I’ll email you all a link to the tool on our website.

We normally hand out packs when we do the live sessions, but if you prefer I can mail you a pack, and I can have a conversation with you on the phone, and hopefully in person at a later time if need be.

[Slide: Compensation]

So the issue of compensation, well compensation paid as a part of an agreement will only equate to loss of income you suffer, or the loss of amenities sustained from exploration activities.

An explorer might not want to establish a compensation agreement at the start because they may only be doing reconnaissance or low impact work that won’t have any adverse impacts on your income or your amenity.

You don’t cut a portion of the value of minerals either, because at this stage the Crown still owns those minerals on behalf of Victoria.

And remember, compensation is not just about money, you can negotiate with an explorer on a whole range of things from fencing, to road resurfacing, to farm equipment and so on and so forth.

There might come a time perhaps when the explorer cannot do further work under their licence and they will need to secure an approved work plan from the Earth Resources Regulator at that point.

The explorer must obtain a written compensation agreement from you, this is very different to a consent agreement, and the reasons why is the explorer may decide to establish a compensation mechanism right up front, or you might decide to wait until the explorer needs one under the legislation.

Again, think about it soon, think about it as a tool to draw on the issue of compensation consent.

It’s what you need to think about that what works for you and what your unique circumstances look like.

Then you need to go on and have that open and honest discussion with the explorer to get an outcome that works for both of you.

[Slide: Professional advice]

Again, if you’re uncomfortable about how to work with explorers you might consider professional advice when it comes to these big matters.

That could be advice from your solicitors, or accountants, or agricultural advisor.

They’re there to provide you with the trust and advice that you need, and the government has an expectation that the explorer should reimburse you for any reasonable costs associated with obtaining that advice.

Over the course of the past few years we’ve held sessions within the region with agricultural advisors, accountants and solicitors, so many of you will be aware that the tool is available and the Stavely Ground Release they will understand more broadly.

[Slide: Dispute settlement]

Now, dispute settlement, under legislation companies holding minerals exploration licences have the right to enter privately owned land and explore for specified minerals.

This is bestowed upon licence holders under the Minerals Resources Sustainable Development Act.

The Act does not provide any leeway on the matter of access, you can’t say no, but as I mentioned earlier they must have either your informed consent or a written registered conversation agreement.

We appreciate there will be times when an agreement just can’t be reached therefore the tool also provides simple steps to prevent a dispute.

All parties should act in good faith and regularly communicate with each other.

You shouldn’t do anything to limit the other party’s rights and obligations under the agreement.

You should try to talk to the other party and resolve it between yourselves, or seek professional assistance from your trusted advisors.

We do suggest you first try an independent dispute resolution service, or go through the Mining Warden or Victorian Small Business Commission, they’re there to offer you advice and help you sort out any areas of disagreement that you might have, but even after doing this agreement mightn’t be reached, so the matter can be referred to the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal, the VCAT, for determination of compensation, but not on the right of access.

Rare though it may be, and you and the explorer company may decide to progress this matter to the Supreme Court, but you know, let’s put this back into context.

The vast majority of Victorian landholders and explorers work very well together, they negotiate the consent that benefits both parties every day, so it’s not new to explorers to work out these difficulties that you might face, but it’s to have those full and frank discussions that so important.

So please watch our landholder video, I’ll send you the link, it shows real farmers and real explorers, not actors, talking about getting on with it.

[Slide: Community engagement requirements]

So now, just before I hand the floor over to Stavely Minerals, I just want to make sure you’re aware of explorer’s obligations for informing the community.

As part of their minerals exploration licence they’re required to share information about their plans and programs.

They must also give landholders and communities ample opportunity to express their views and feedback.

That can be in various forms, but I’m sure that Stavely Minerals will provide you with those options for giving your views and feedback.

Lyall Grey, who you’ll hear from in a minute, is Stavely Minerals Stakeholder Relations Manager.

He lives in the western district, and as Stavely Minerals holds other exploration licences in the area, he and members of the team who are also locals like Sarah Heard, might already be known to many of you.

Lyall’s there to raise the company’s awareness of community expectations, he will share details on how you can get in touch with them.

Their details are also on our Earth Resources website.

[Slide: Further information]

In terms of the department, we’re also more than happy to help you wherever we can, and we will want to keep you informed about the work we’re doing within the area.

Our contact details are up on the slide at the moment, both our email and my phone number, and I’m field-based so I can come and visit you when restrictions allow.

If you have any question, no matter how great or small it might be, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

We’re always more than happy to help you wherever we can.

If we don’t know the answer we’re always more than happy to facilitate following it up and finding an answer for you.

We also publish a regular Stavely Newsletter which can you sign up for on our website.

So I hope that has help provide some further information about minerals exploration in the area and the Stavely Ground Release.

There’ll be an opportunity for questions at the end of the presentation and if anything comes to mind after the presentation please feel free to email us and we will respond to your questions.

So I’d like to handover to Stavely Minerals now, so that’s Lyall Grey, Stephen Johnson and Sarah Heard.

Lyall Grey, Stakeholder Relations Manager, Stavely Minerals

Yeah, thanks Annie, Brett and Donna.

[Slide: Stavely Minerals presenters]

This afternoon you’ll hear from three of the Stavely Minerals team, so there’ll be our Exploration Manager, Steve Johnson, Senior Geologist, Sarah Heard who is also a local farmer and has strong family ties to the area, and me, the Stakeholder Relations Manager.

My contact details are up there because I’m your go-to person if you’ve got any questions or concerns.

Now, a little bit about me, I was born in Hamilton and raised on a farm at Branxholme.

Some of you will know me from my time as the Photo Journalist with Stock and Land newspaper, or as the Communications Director with the Victorian Farmers Federation, or my various roles with the CFA which includes working in incident control centres during major fires and floods, or as a volunteer firefighter and Captain of the Yulecart Brigade.

[Slide: Stavely Minerals 2]

My role as Stakeholder Relations Manager is to ensure effective communications and engagement at all levels including private landholders, local communities, agriculture networks and land care groups, local government and relevant government agencies.

Now while COVID has made it impossible to hold public briefings we have introduced a quarterly newsletter which will be distributed, or is distributed through local shops and via email, and I encourage all of you to register on our website, stavely.com.au, to receive this community newsletter via email.

Under the community tab on the website you’ll also find information sheets covering a range of topics such as:

  • Minerals Exploration Really What is It?
  • Exploration to Mining, so the steps from exploration to mining.
  • Noise mitigation during our exploration activities.
  • Fire prevention.
  • Rehabilitation of drill sites.
  • And, of course, frequently asked questions where we try to answer a lot of the questions that you might have.

There’s also a section on the minerals exploration techniques with videos showing the various drilling methods we’re using here at Stavely, and what the area looks like afterwards.

This is a good opportunity for you to see just what we are doing out there and what the potential is if we did happen to want to come on your place.

Now the community briefings will resume as soon as the COVID restrictions allow.

[Slide: Who is Stavely Minerals?]

So who is Stavely Minerals?

We’re a committed explorer focused on making minerals, sorry, mineral discoveries in this region and have been working here since 2013, so we’re not new to the area.

We’ve built strong reputation for integrity, honesty and transparency.

We deal with all stakeholders with respect and fairness and seek to protect the environment and enrich the communities in which we work.

Stavely, as I said, has been here since 2013 and so far we’ve spent more than $43 million on our exploration in this region, and the vast majority of that has been spent on Victorian employees, suppliers and contractors, so the area is already benefiting from what we’ve been doing.

We actually had a recent breakthrough, that was in 2019 when we came across an outstanding shallow, high grade, copper, gold, silver discovery, and that’s what we call the Cayley Lode.

This area also has the potential for other discoveries in the area, and that’s why we’re looking at Block 3.

But there’s still much work to do, but it will bring significant benefits to the region with local employment opportunities and stimulating local industries.

[Slide: Why are we looking for minerals?]

Now one of the main questions I suppose we get is why do we need to explore for minerals?

Now nearly everything we use each day began life as a mineral or was grown, your car, television, PC, mobile phone and power supply are all made up with materials that are derived from minerals.

Exploration is an essential first step in finding the minerals society needs to meet the increasing demand, not just to maintain our current lifestyle in homes, businesses and industries, but also to achieve our vision for the future for a low-carbon future.

Copper is the ultimate future-facing commodity.

Alternative energy solutions such as solar and wind farms for renewal energy generation requires certain strategic minerals including copper.

Electric vehicles have more than four times more copper than the standard vehicle.

And on an average wind farm contains four tonnes of copper per turbine.

Mineral explorations are also important for Victoria’s economy dating back to the gold rush in the 1850s.

It continues to boost local towns by providing regional employment through expenditure on a range of goods and services, accommodation, fuel and more.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, as you heard earlier there is a very big difference between minerals exploration and mining, and Block 3 is a very large area, 865 square kilometres and we will need to target our exploration to specific areas, so only a small number of agricultural landholders will be approached for access.

If I do contact you I will bring an access agreement that is heavily based on the government’s access tool you’ve heard about here.

So I will now hand over to Steve and Sarah to talk about what’s so special about Block 3.

Thanks Steve.

Stephen Johnson, Exploration Manager, Stavely Minerals

[Slide: Why EL6870 is considered prospective?]

Hello everyone.

So my name is Steve, I’m the Exploration Manager tasked with exploration discovery in our western Victorian exploration teams.

So in order to talk about why Block 3, or EL6870, is prospective, I really need to talk about the discovery that we made at Thursday’s Gossan and the Cayley Lode in 2019.

I was actually lucky enough to be on the rig the day that beautiful piece of drill core came out of the ground.

And as Brett said earlier on that discoveries don’t happen every day, they’re really difficult to achieve and we were lucky enough to be a part of one, the Cayley Lode.

You can see there that we drilled 32 metres at 5.88% copper, 1.00 gram per tonne gold and 58 grams per tonne silver, that’s a really spectacular intercept and what we find when we look at deposits around the world is that once you get hold of one in an area they typically cluster, so your probability of making a discovery in the vicinity or in the region of an existing ore deposit goes up, and so this discovery really elevates the prospectivity of this entire arc.

The Victorian Government Stavely Project in conjunction with Geoscience Australia did a fantastic piece of foundation science that originally attracted us to the area, that demonstrates that this whole part of Victoria was actually, 500 million years ago it actually looked like the Andes in South America, so that’s a bit of a sort of a cognitive leap to make, but that part of the world where you guys are farming and we’re exploring really did look like an Andean style mountain range 500 million years ago which is pretty amazing to consider.

[Slide: What are we looking for? - Geological Model]

So as I said before this arc was operating 500 million years ago for a period of about 100 million years, so the modern analogue to this environment is the ring of fire, a string of volcanoes that heads all up the western margin of South America and wraps around the Pacific into Indonesia, and so we’re familiar with those volcanic environments.

And it’s those intrusions that come up during the formation of these volcanoes that drive the formation of copper deposits.

This type of deposits are called porphyries and this understanding of the science of copper deposits and where they occur, and our understanding about the geology of the Stavely Belt, really highlights the prospectivity of the area and it’s something that our team are really enthusiastic and passionate about taking it through and exploring in detail, and that’s sort of what’s brought us to this area.

In order to talk about our forward program and the type of work you’ll actually see in the field I’m going to pass to Sarah Heard.

Sarah Heard, Senior Geologist, Stavely Minerals

Thanks Steve.

[Slide: How do we know where to look?]

My name is Sarah Heard, I’m the Senior Exploration Geologist at Stavely Minerals.

I’m also very much a long-term resident of Willaura and I’m coming to you today from my parent’s farm in the middle of Block 3.

And as I look out the window here it’s quite obvious to me that there’s no Andes sitting out there, so like Steve said it’s about 500 million years old.

And about 400 million years ago there was a lot of uplift and then it was all – these mountains were eroded.

And then since that time, as you can see, we’ve got a map on the left which shows the surface geology as it is today.

So the green bit there is the bit that we’re interested in, however it’s lying underneath some cover sequences.

The main one you can see there is the newer volcanic basalt, so that’s something that’s very recent and it’s came from volcanoes such as Mount Hamilton or Mount Napier, or even local volcanoes like Kulker or Pepper Hill.

And this can form quite a thick layer over the rocks that we’re interested in.

And then we’ve also got some sandstone sequences there so Bald Hill is an example, that’s made out of sandstone and it’s the same group as what the Grampians is made from, so we’re still interested in what’s underneath that.

And then when we go closer to the mountains we start getting a lot of alluvium, so we’ve got a lot of clay and gravels covering that green area that we’re interested in.

So if we’ve got all this cover how do we know where to drill?

So on the right there we’ve got a geophysical survey, so last, about six months ago, we had an aeroplane that was flying in the sky very low and that was taking this kind of imagery.

What we’ve got there is actually magnetics and that will show us where we’ve got our magnetic minerals like Megatyte for example, and Megatyte can be associated with these porphyry intrusions that we’re looking for.

But we also have an area where we have had a discovery, and we can use the magnetic signature that we see there and see where else that occurs within the licence, and that might be an area that we want to explore first up.

[Slide: Exploration - what will we actually be doing?]

There has been older exploring the area and we have some older drill holes that we can actually look at and see what geology came up.

So this area’s still considered a Greenfields Project so there’s very little exploration that’s been done.

Normally with first pass exploration we probably go through and do a heap of soil sampling, but where we’ve got cover sequences the soil sampling isn’t of any use, so we’ve only got a minimal area within Block 3 that we can use that.

So the main tool that we like to use is an air-core drill rig.

So an air-core rig is a very small rig and it’ll drill holes within a matter of hours to get to the basement so we can then assay that for a whole sweep of elements to see if we’re in the right area for these deposits.

Exploration is a very long process even if you are successful with your first drill program, it’s still many, many iterations before you even get something that you could even consider it’s possibly economic.

So as an example, where we have the Stavely Project, explorers have been there since the 1960s and it’s only now, like 50-60 years later that there’s any real traction.

But to go back into these methods that we’re going to use, if we go to the next slide, we’ve got an example of the soil sampling technique that we use, and we will be using some of that in Block 3.

[Slide: Soil Auger Drilling]

And it’s even got Steve in the video taking the lovely samples, and all it is is a small tractor with a post hole-digger on it.

[Video: Stavely Minerals auger sampling views of drill in operation

  • Text: Auger drilling is a rapid, early stage, low impact drilling method to sample near surface soil.
  • This sampling method often uses the same machinery used for farm fencing.
  • The drill bit penetrates the top one metre of the soil profile, providing a useful sample of the subsurface geology.
  • After sampling, the hole is immediately filled in and rehabilitated before moving to the next site.]

Stavely Minerals]

And then next up we’ve got an example of the air-core drilling, this time it’s myself who’s on the rig.

[Video: Stavely Minerals Aircore Exploration Drilling views in operation

  • Text: Aircore drilling is a quick, low impact drilling method to sample shallower subsurface geology.
  • An air core rig is mounted on the back of a 6WD Landcruiser with a support truck carrying supplies, tools and equipment.
  • The drill bit grinds the rock into chips, compressed air blows the rock chips up the inner tube and out through the large rubber hose attached to the top of the drill rig.
  • A sample is collect for each metre drilled.
  • These samples were particularly sloppy.
  • A geologist selects samples to be sent for analysis.
  • Once the hole is finished, the drill rig and support truck move to the next site to start again.
  • Remaining rock cuttings are taken to a waste facility and the area rehabilitated.
  • The locals kept a close eye on proceedings]

So, those air-core holes take anywhere from a couple of hours to about a day to drill so it is a very quick method.

Anyway, that’s all from Stavely for the moment but I’ll now throwback to Brett for our Q&A session.

Brett Millsom, Acting Manager Community & Stakeholder Engagement

Thank you Sarah, plenty of really great content in that presentation and I think the videos are particularly helpful too in being able to paint a really good picture of what locals might be able to see and what exploration actually looks like.

Thanks also to Lyall and Steve from Stavely Minerals as well for their really great insights as well as a part of that presentation.

That does, as Sarah mentioned, bring us to the end of the formal presentations per se and there is now an opportunity for you to ask any questions of any of us here with you this afternoon about any of the content that we’ve covered.

Just a reminder, you can ask your question, there’s the two little speech bubbles you should be able to see, or a little speech bubble you should be able to see towards the top of your screens in Microsoft Teams, you can click that and a little text box should open up for you to type the question there.

So if you do have any questions pop them in there and we’ll work to get to them over the course of the next 25 minutes or half hour or so.

And I might take the first one which someone’s asked will these slides and presentations be made available later for people who could not attend today?

A whole recording of this session, including those of us that have presented and the slides will be made available online on our Earth Resources website over the course of the next – I might just say hopefully next fortnight but it can often depend on how long it takes us to get the transcript from these sessions.

So as soon as we have that transcript we’ll upload that onto our website and Donna will share with you a link to how you can go about accessing that recording, and how you might be able to share it with those that maybe weren’t able to attend other sessions.

I should just get a plug in as well, we are delivering another one of these sessions tomorrow evening for those that may be are the sort of 9:00 to 5:00 hours don’t really work for, and that’s 7:00 to 8:30pm tomorrow night and the registrations for that are open on our website.

So if you do know someone that might be interested and is looking to attend and get that information by all means just steer them towards our website and they’ll be able to register for tomorrow evening’s session.

There’s also another question, and this is a great one and one that often comes up in these sorts of presentations whenever we deliver them.

And this one is around refusing access and someone’s asked, I’m going to pass this one over to my colleague, Annie Farrow, what’s the level of legal rights we have over our land, and can we refuse access?

I might pass that one to you Annie.

Annie Farrow, Manager Resource Strategy and Industry Investment

Yeah, great thanks Brett, and it is a terrific question.

So what is the level of legal rights we have over our land, that’s the first part of the question.

And to answer that, that is specified in your land title, you’ll see on your land title that it specifies the actual area of your ownership.

It also specifies a depth of ownership, and I can’t say what that is generally across Victoria because it does vary a little bit, but I can tell you that it’s not actually very deep.

But irrespective of all that, the Minerals Resources Sustainable Development Act vests the ownership of all minerals in the state of Victoria to the Crown.

That’s absolutely the exact same that happens in every state of Australia, so the Crown owns the minerals.

The Act also provides the authority to the Minister for Resources the ability to issue licences to companies that the Minister deems fit to have a licence to explore for those minerals, and there are usually conditions on that licence that the explorer has to abide by.

So the explorers have the right to explore for those minerals.

The Act however is silent about whether the landholder, the private property owner, can deny access.

The Act does specify that the explorer, as Donna explained, the explorer must seek you consent, verbal consent in the case of reconnaissance exploration, if it’s more than that they must obtain your written consent.

So if the Act is silent about whether you can deny access please note a couple of things.

One, that explorers do have a licence to explore for minerals, and if you don’t wish to give them access then you can take that matter to VCAT or the Supreme Court, or the explorer can take the landholder to VCAT or the Supreme Court.

Please note that VCAT will usually require you to demonstrate that you’ve actually taken some action to try and mediate the dispute and find a solution.

But, it’s also important to recognise that under the Minerals Resources Sustainable Development Act the ability of the Supreme Court or VCAT to make a ruling is actually quite constrained.

They can only rule on the matter of the level of compensation for which landholder is, or should be, paid, they don’t make a determination on whether or not the explorer can access your land, so it all comes back to the MRSDA, the Act itself.

So can you refuse access?

Well, yes you can but it can be taken to court and you’ll be only given compensation not ruled that you can refuse access in the long term.

But that all sounds really very negative, and please bear in mind that explorers never want to come out and cause angst with landholders, they will work with you.

As you saw right at the beginning of this presentation there is exploration occurring all over this state, in fact about 46% of the state is under exploration licence.

It’s been happening for decades and exploration really co-exists with agriculture.

Explorers and farmers generally just get on with it and it all happens, and it all happens amicably.

So please raise all the concerns that you have with Lyall and Sarah’s team and, yeah, but any further concerns about that particular issue please direct them back to the department.

Back to you Brett.

Brett Millsom, Acting Manager Community & Stakeholder Engagement

Thanks for that one Annie.

And I might come back to you for this next one, and we might also split this one up a bit and got to both you and to Steve, but I might start with you Annie.

We’ve got a comment – I should also mention just quickly as well before I come back to you Annie, that our colleague, John, has posted in the chat a link to register for tomorrow night’s session, so to that earlier question around if you are interested or know someone that might be interested in attending the session tomorrow night, you can grab that link from the chat and forward it on to them.

But Annie, the next question, we’ve had a comment from someone in the chat saying they’re concerned about the effect of exploration and mining on local wetlands including the smaller ephemeral wetlands, how will groundwater, hydrology and surface water quality be affected?

It might be worth sort of touching on some of those Acts that I referred to earlier, and some of the protections that they provide, and then Steve, might come to you for any further additions.

Annie Farrow, Manager Resource Strategy and Industry Investment

Again, fantastic question, thank you for putting that one.

So, when an explorer intends to work that is no longer considered low impact, they must approach the Earth Resources Regulator who issued them with a licence in the first place, so it’s a slightly different part of the department than us, they must approach the Earth Resources Regulator with a work plan and that work plan must identify all the potential risks that their proposed exploration activity may create.

They should identify risks to ephemeral wetlands, to groundwater and to rivers, streams, whatever, to endangered species and all sorts of matters.

They put this work plan and identify the risks and how they propose to mitigate those risks.

Then the Earth Resources Regulator assesses that work plan and assesses those mitigation strategies.

Most often the Earth Resources Regulator will refer matters to experts if they’re outside exploration and mining kind of issues.

So if there were potential impacts on wetlands and groundwater, the Earth Resources Regulator will refer the proposed work plan and mitigation strategies to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and the water people in that department, who are the experts, would assess the work plan and come back with their recommendation to the Earth Resources Regulator sort of saying that in their opinion the mitigation strategies are sufficient or not, to meet the requirements specified in the relevant Acts.

So there’s a Water Act, I think there might be some other associated regulations about groundwater etcetera, etcetera.

And because they’re wetlands that probably also has an impact, or potential impact, on various species so they may also comment on the mitigation strategies and whether they ensure compliance with Acts around native flora and fauna etcetera.

So basically that’s the way that these regulations and Acts that, in that circle I think there was a slide that showed there are over 20 Acts that govern the behaviour of explorers, and that’s an example of how this happens.

So if there are concerns the explorer must prepare a work plan.

Now when you come to negotiate access with the licensee, you should raise specific issues like that and say well, there’s a patch over there that’s got a wetland, you can’t see that now because it’s summer, or spring and summer coming on, but late winter it does fill.

They may not be necessarily aware of that particular one, so please raise those issues with the explorer.

Now, for a more practical response to that question I’m going to handover to Sarah.

Thank you.

Sarah Heard, Senior Geologist, Stavely Minerals

Okay, so I’ve actually authored many of these work plans myself, and it’s actually quite a long process.

I’ve always had work plans come back to me with suggestions and also the work from experts about how we should go about mitigating all those issues.

But we want to do most of our first pass exploration and low impact exploration and that means for it to classify as low impact exploration we can’t go within 200 metres of a named waterway, so we’ll essentially be avoiding those because we don’t want to disturb the wildlife either.

And just to comment about all those Acts that we’ve got to work under, I mean it might be hard for you to imagine that we have all that in our heads, so we actually have a guideline, an easy to follow guideline, that the government has written for us and there’s actually access for you guys to have a look at that if you so wish.

Brett Millsom, Acting Manager Community & Stakeholder Engagement

Terrific, thanks for all of that Sarah.

That seems to be the last of the questions that we’ve had come in through the chat function.

Lyall, I might put you on notice and just throw one your way here.

In terms of if the community is looking for updates or to be kept informed of the work that Stavely will be doing over the course of the coming months and years, maybe what’s the best way for them to go about engaging with Stavely?

Lyall Grey, Stakeholder Relations Manager, Stavely Minerals

Well possibly the best way to engage with Stavely would be to, hopefully if you’ve copied down my contact details earlier on, if not as soon as, as Brett said, this will be coming out on their Earth Resources website so you’ll be able to see it again if you want, but you can get my details there.

The other option is to get onto the Stavely website, so that’s stavely.com.au, and if you get onto the community pages you can have a look at the videos, you can have a look at a lot of those fact sheets that I talked about earlier.

But you could also get my contact details and I’d welcome anyone who’s got any questions at all to call me, my mobile number’s there, it’s on 24/7, preferably don’t call me through the night unless there’s something specific, but no, I’m happy and my email’s there as well, so use whatever that suits you to contact me.

I’m very happy to come out and have a chat to people or you can come and have a look at what we’re doing, more than happy to have whatever contact.

We’re there to work with the community, and as I said earlier, we’ve got 13 year – sorry, eight years, been here since 2013, it might feel like 13 years, but we’ve been here a long time and we really do endeavour to work very closely with the community as well as the landowners out there, and so we do encourage contact.

Thanks Brett.

Brett Millsom, Acting Manager Community & Stakeholder Engagement

Terrific, thanks Lyall, and hopefully no-one takes up the challenge of seeing if your mobile phone really is on 24 hours a day seven days a week, you may have set yourself up for that one.

Look, thanks to my colleagues as well who also posted some links in the chat function, you can find the Code of Practice that was referred to earlier, a link to accessing that there in the chat function, and also the contact page for Stavely where you can get their information.

Now, did I just – I don’t think I’ve seen any new question popping in at this point in time, so with that in mind we might draw to a close, a little bit earlier than expected.

As sort of all of us have mentioned over the course of this presentation, we have shared our contact details and if you didn’t jot them down you should easily be able to access them through one of the links that have been shared in the chat, and please don’t hesitate to get in contact with any of us if, you know, you might be sitting at home tomorrow and have a question that springs to mind that you wish you’d asked or a particular point that you wish for some further information on or wish to know a little bit more about, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with anyone of us, and we’re only too happy to answer those.

Or, as Donna mentioned, if we can’t answer them, certainly try and chase down the answer for you or steer you in the right direction of someone who can.

A very big thanks to all of you that made time, and took the time out of your day to attend this afternoon’s session.

I’m based in the southeast of the state in Gippsland, I’m just looking out my window here as we’re talking and it’s an absolutely sensational day and I’m hoping it’s the same wherever you might joining us from.

So understand we certainly value your attention noting that we’re competing with some really glorious spring weather at the moment.

So thank you for joining us, also a big thank you to Lyall Grey, Sarah Heard and Steve Johnson from the Stavely team for their great presentation materials and for participating in this afternoon’s session, and thank you to my colleagues, Annie Farrow, John Dunlevy who you didn’t hear from but who’s been driving a lot of the behind-the-scenes IT this afternoon, a big thanks to him.

And also a particular special shout out and thanks to Donna Morgan who has worked tirelessly over the course of the last couple of weeks to pull these sessions together, and also for her great presentation this afternoon.

On that note at approximately 17 minutes to five o’clock and 17 minutes ahead of schedule we will draw this session to a close and thank you all once again for your time and enjoy what’s left of your day.

Bye for now.

Page last updated: 12 Oct 2021