Video transcript: Stavely Block 4 Community Information Session 2

[Title: Minerals Exploration in Western Victoria - Stavely Ground Release Block 4]

Brett Millsom

A very good evening to you and welcome to this second of two information sessions about  minerals exploration in Western Victoria.

Thank you for taking the time out of your evenings to attend this session.

My name’s Brett Millsom and I’m the Acting Manager of Community and Stakeholder Engagement with the minerals team within the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions.

I’d like to start tonight’s session by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which I’m coming to you from tonight, for me that’s the Gunaikurnai people, and pay respects to elders past, present and emerging.

As this is an online session there will be a number of you joining this from right across Victoria, and I’d encourage you to take a moment to also acknowledge the traditional owners from the land on wherever it is that you might be joining us from tonight.

I’d also like to acknowledge any elected officials we might have on this evening’s session from all three levels of government, state, local and federal, particularly any councillors that might be joining us from within the three local government areas within this block, Northern Grampians Shire Council, Ararat Shire Council and the Horsham Rural City, welcome.

Tonight’s session is really an opportunity for us to provide you with some further information about minerals exploration in Western Victoria and this has really come off the back of the recent awarding of an exploration licence to a company called Gippsland Prospecting, who you will also hear from tonight and they’ll be talking a bit about their plans for exploration in the area.

This has really all come about as a result of a project that was called the Stavely Minerals Exploration Initiative which was a program undertaken by the department, and we’ll talk a bit more about that a little bit later on in the session just so you’ve got the relevant background as to how all this has come about.

This is the fourth licence that’s been awarded as a part of that and we’ve done a number of these sessions over the course of the last several months and years in person, and some due to COVID restrictions we’ve been forced to take these virtual.

And despite COVID restrictions it is still great that we’re able to brief you on this matter and hopefully provide you with a little bit more information about this.

Before we start tonight a couple of housekeeping items.

So, all of you that are on this session are in listen-only mode, so that means we can’t actually see you, that however doesn’t mean that you’re not to ask a question, and there’s two ways of doing that tonight.

[Slide: Microsoft Teams - Asking a question]

The first option you have is in the chat function through the Microsoft Teams platform.

You’ll see on the slide just there two little speech bubbles just next to the leave button there, if you click those there’ll be an opportunity for you to type in a question and we’d encourage you to do so as they might come to mind throughout the night, and we’ve allocated plenty of time at the end of the session to get through as many of those as we can, and we’ll also be circulating any responses to those that we don’t get a chance to answer tonight or that we might take on notice.

Just do be mindful that that button is right next to the leave button, if for some reason you do by accident click the leave button you can just get back in through the link that’s been circulated to you and that you originally used.

Alternatively, if you’re having any troubles with that means you can also phone or text my colleague Donna whose number is there at the bottom of the screen.

You can also text her or call her with any sort of technical issues or difficulties that you might be having with the platform.

Hopefully it’s working relatively seamlessly for all of you tonight.

[Slide: Agenda]

In terms of what you can expect from tonight’s session, we’ll provide an overview of minerals exploration and the Stavely Ground Release Initiative which is really the catalyst for why we’re here tonight, and also some further information about a tool the department has developed regarding land access consent and access to private property for explorers to undertake their exploration programs.

I’ll then handover to the team from Gippsland Prospecting who’ll provide some further detail about their exploration program within the area, and then there will be an opportunity for questions at the end, both questions of us as departmental representatives, and also questions of representatives from Gippsland Prospecting.

That’s really all of it on the housekeeping side of things, so we might get straight into it.

[Slide: Minerals exploration - What does minerals exploration mean for landholders in the Stavely Block 4 area?]

Probably there the first question that comes to a lot of your minds with tonight’s session, is really what does this mineral exploration all mean particularly if you might live within what we call the Block 4 area that has recently been licenced.

Now some of you might have attended some sessions back in 2019 where we spoke about the Stavely Ground Release which was then a tender process to attract explorers to the region, and that have might been your first sort of foray or introduction to this issue.

For others it might have been the letter you received in your mailbox alerting you to this session or some of the local media coverage that you’ve heard promoting these sessions, and it might be an entirely new concept.

So in terms of – there’s probably a number of questions I think that we’ll go to straight up front, and that is what does it actually mean for you, will the explorer be looking to access your land to undertake their exploration program, and what we actually will see in the community.

So I’m going to go through those one-by-one.

In terms of what does it actually mean for you, the answer really to that question is not a great deal.

Minerals exploration is an activity that has gone on for decades right across Victoria and continues to do so, and probably for a number of you that activity has taken place right under your noses and you may not have even observed it or known about it.

So it is very different to mining activity, it’s important to make that distinction between what is minerals exploration, which is much more under the radar so to speak than mining activity that you can physically obviously see a mine.

In terms of access to private land or potentially your land for an explorer to undertake the exploration program, yes, in many cases explorers do approach private landholders and look to access their property to undertake minerals exploration.

The important point to stress here though is that that is often a very small number of landholders, and that negotiation takes place in a very sort of one-on-one fashion.

Minerals exploration by its very nature is quite targeted and so the explorer will often approach a small number of landholders, and obviously commence those negotiations with them to gain that consent to access the property.

In terms of what you might see within the community, most likely the extent of it will be the occasional truck and vehicle here and there.

It might be a regional office presence, but again, when it comes to exploration that the profile in comparison to mining is much, much smaller, and to be honest this is probably activity, and as I mentioned earlier, has been going on for quite some time that you may have been unaware of and will probably continue to do so.

The other important point to note here is that there is an economic benefit associated with minerals exploration activity, so when an explorer does go into a region deliver and undertake an exploration program, they obviously do spend money locally, and that extends things like food, fuel, and car and vehicle repairs at local service stations, accommodation and so on and so forth.

In fact since 2018 minerals exploration expenditure in Western Victoria local government areas has exceeded $41m, and across the Stavely Ground Release area we’re expecting that number to exceed $20m, and that spending supports rural businesses and creates jobs.

[Slide: Map of Victoria]

So, I made the point just then that minerals exploration is really a common occurrence right across all of Victoria, and it’s taking place all around you, it does so now and it has done for a great number of decades.

It’s certainly nothing new to Western Victoria and it’s certainly nothing new to most parts of the state, in fact over 30% of the state is under exploration licence at any one time.

And the important distinguishing point to make here is that only 0.02% of the state actually has a mining footprint, and this goes to the point I raised earlier about being really clear about the distinction between what is minerals exploration which is what we’re talking about here tonight, and what is actually mining activity which is very different.

In essence the exploration activity is obviously the precursor to what might be mining activity but there’s a lot of time and water to go under the bridge before it may get to that point and we’ll come to some of those statistics a little bit later on.

The other point I want to stress here is that minerals exploration readily coexists with other land uses, so a large amount of this exploration that has previously done and continues to take place across Victoria does so on private property rather than crown land, and that’s generally agricultural land.

Farmers and exploration companies have for many years been quietly and successfully negotiating access to private property, and with that compensation where appropriate, to allow for explorers to undertake their work.

In the coming days we will provide registered attendees for this session with some further links that provide some further information about this, and included in that will be a video that has some experiences, it also has some farmers from Victoria accounting their own experiences in dealing with exploration companies that are undertaking work on their property, being landholders from Cathcart and Serpentine, so I’d encourage you to take the time to watch that if you do get a moment.

[Slide: Minerals exploration Stavely Block 4]

All right, so why we are here tonight is largely due to the recent awarding of a minerals exploration licence to Gippsland Prospecting as I touched on earlier, as part of the Stavely Ground Release.

Now this is really the culmination of what we’ve termed the Stavely Minerals Exploration Initiative which was a program undertaken by the Victorian Government some years ago, looking at minerals prospectivity in Western Victoria, and as a part of that program a whole number of activities were undertaken including geoscience programs to identify areas with the most potential and prospectivity for minerals discoveries, consultation with regional community leaders about land uses and key environmental, water, cultural and other assets, an assessment of the existing legislation and land use planning processes to confirm the density of areas in that part of Victoria would be protected, and ultimately making available areas suitable for minerals exploration to encourage the best exploration programs, and we did that through a competitive tender process.

As part of that process six successful tenderers have been identified and four of those blocks have since been licenced, the fourth of which is obviously Gippsland Prospecting which is why we’re here tonight.

This is an area, as you can see on the map there, it’s the area shaded within the blue outline and covers an area of just over 800 square kilometres.

I won’t talk too much about Gippsland Prospecting exploration program other than to say that under their licence they are able to look for gold, copper and other minerals, but I will leave the more detailed information for them to provide as a part of their presentation a little bit later on in the night.

The area covered by a licence includes the areas at Mokepilly, Illawarra, Pomonal, Moyston, Willaura North, but an important point to stress here that it does not include Halls Gap, Dadswells Bridge or most importantly for all of you I would think out that way the Grampians National Park.

If you are after further information regarding other licences awarded as part of this process, the Stavely Ground Release I’m referring to there, or other minerals exploration licences in general in your area, there is a tool available on the Victorian Government’s website called Licences Near Me, and what you can do with that tool is essentially enter your own address or you can zoom in on a particular area map and it brings up the minerals and petroleum and other resource licences that might be located over or nearby your property.

[Slide: Minerals exploration]

Before we get to talking about the land access consent tool, I do want to provide some further information about some of the things that we can rule out right up front in regards to this exploration that will be undertaken within Block 4.

The first point to make there is explorers will not be looking for gas or for coal, that isn’t a commodity that’s listed in their licence and therefore they will not be, and are unable to look for that.

As a reminder, fracking is prohibited in Victoria as is exploration and mining of any type in all Victorian national and state parks.

This means no activity in the Grampians and the Arapiles.

In terms of the commodities being looked for I did mention that’s gold, copper and base metals in the case of Gippsland Prospecting, and that’s true for all six of the successful tenderers as part of the Stavely Ground Release.

Gippsland Prospecting has excised some crown land from its licence and with the remaining crown land due native title processes were followed and no claims were lodged on determined crown land.

The other point to note there is the Federal Court has determined that native titles were extinguished in this area, and roads and road reserves are taken as having extinguished native title, however there may be other areas of crown land where native title has been extinguished by some previous exclusive possession act such as commercial or residential lease.

[Slide: Special places, features safeguarded]

I mentioned earlier that minerals exploration and agriculture have coexisted for a number of years, and one of the key reasons for that is that explorers must operate under a highly regulated regime in Victoria, so minerals exploration licences are granted under a piece of legislation called the Mineral Resources Sustainable Development Act, 1990, and that’s really the key legislation that sets out licence conditions and the processes for getting approvals for exploration work programs in Victoria.

It also governs the requirements for gaining consent to private land and for starting work on crown land for minerals exploration.

While that is the primary piece of legislation it’s critical to note here that it’s not the only piece of legislation and regulation that applies to mining and exploration.

In fact there’s more than 20 other acts and associated regulations that provide safeguards over special places and special things, and govern what explorers can do, and some of those safeguards provided through these other acts and regulations extend to things like  national parks, waterways and aquifers, native vegetation, cultural and indigenous heritage and threatened plants and species.

And the explorers legal responsibility to make sure that they’re adhering to all of the laws and regulations that govern their activities, not just the piece of legislation related to mining which you’ll see in this case is the Mineral Resources Sustainable Development Act.

[Slide: Timelines and conversion rates]

I talked earlier about the distinction between minerals exploration and mining, and I want to come back to that point again here to provide some further context around that, and some of the, I guess, timeline and statistics around that.

In Victoria the figure that’s often quoted is that only one one in 300 exploration licences will result in a discovery of a commercially viable resource, and many in fact in the minerals industry would suggest a far more conservative figure and that that’s something far more like say one in 600 or even as far as one in a thousand.

The other point to note there is that takes an average of 12 years to prove the existence of an economically viable deposit and to progress from exploration activity, which is what we’re talking about now, to potentially ultimately becoming a mining operation.

And there’s a whole lot of water that needs to go under the bridge during that period and environmental approvals to be obtained, design and economic studies of course, and community engagement and public engagement about any proposed development or mine.

So that’s quite some way down the track, you can only say a commercially viable resource deposit was to be identified, and it’s very important to stress here that we are just talking about minerals exploration, we’re not necessarily tonight talking about mining activity.

[Slide: Negotiating land access and compensation]

So onto the topic of land access, and the question that we often get asked is whether you have to give consent at all, and then how that can be achieved if you are to be approached by a minerals exploration company that’s looking to access your property to undertake and deliver its exploration program.

There’s a couple of points I want to make here, the first of which is that in Victoria, which is in line with all other states in Australia, the crown owns the minerals on behalf of the people, and that gives the government the right to grant licences to companies to search for minerals.

And they can generally undertake that search on both crown land and on freehold land.

So in response to the question of do you have to give consent to the explorer, the answer to that is that yes, you can say no to the explorer but there is a really important caveat to that and a point that I really want to stress here.

Is that under the Mineral Resources Sustainable Development Act the explorer can take landholders to VCAT or the Supreme Court, and they may only rule on the level of compensation.

So this implies that they will not rule on the matter of access.

So just to repeat that, under the MRSDA the explorer can take landholders to VCAT or Supreme Court and they will only rule on the level of compensation not on the matter of access.

While that is the case if it does get to that point, I will add that such an outcome is in fact quite rare and more often than not explorers and landholders are actually able to come to an arrangement and agree that it’s mutually advantageous to both parties.

So I think the key point there is to really go into this with an open mind and keep those lines of communication with an explorer if you are to be approached by them looking to access your property, keep those lines of communication open, because you do have the right to negotiate the terms and conditions under which an explorer may access your private land, and you may also as part of that, need to negotiate compensation that’s payable to you should you experience any loss of income or amenity that might arise from that exploration activity.

Which lends itself to the question how do you go about doing that?

And I hope that information I’ve just provided has provided some background and some context in terms of starting those discussions and potentially negotiating that consent with an explorer to access your property.

Another key purpose of tonight’s session is to really introduce you to a tool that’s been developed by the department in conjunction with the Victorian Farmers Federation to help landholders and exploration companies discuss and agree upon access to your property for minerals exploration purposes.

We call it a tool but in actual fact it is a commercial contract template that’s supported by a guide, and the clause in this template contract really provide talking points that you can use to negotiate consent for an exploration company to access your land and undertake activities on that land.

[Slide: Commercial Consent Agreement]

A couple of points to remember about this tool, and the first one is that it is a voluntary tool, you may decide, you might have a look at it and decide that you wish to use our tool, but you may also decide that you’d like to use something you’ve developed yourself or a version that the exploration company might provide, it really is entirely up to the parties involved how they wish to go about negotiating and agreeing that land access consent, and whether that’s a hybrid of those three models, it very much comes down to what works for both parties involved.

The tool there, if you aren’t going to use it it also can serve as a really useful conversation started and thought prompting to start you thinking about what are the key points you really want to have a discussion with about, an exploration company, and any special conditions you might want to consider imposing as a part of that agreement, whether that’s for things like a heritage listing or trust for nature covenants or some other conditions that we’ll come to shortly.

It’s really about taking stock of those things that are really important to you and what’s absolutely critical to you in how you undertake your business, and potentially your agricultural business, and making sure that that’s recognised in an agreement with the company.

It is flexible tool, not everything in it will be relevant to you or your business or landholding, and on the flipside of that not everything will necessarily be relevant to the explorer and the particular activity they may wish to undertake.

It’s really about making sure that you take that as an innovative template and tailer it to suit your specific circumstances and the circumstances of the explorer, and start having those discussions about things like access, the conditions under which they may enter, compensation and how that might be calculated, communications and how the parties will keep one another informed, and also importantly dispute resolution, and while we hope that it doesn’t come to that I think it’s an important point to make sure that it is included, if in the event, well we hope it doesn’t, but in the event that it does get to that.

[Slide: Commercial consent agreement clauses]

By law an explorer must ensure that their exploration programs minimise the level of interference with other activities that might be occurring on the land, and this includes personnel and contractors that might be on the land, the dates and hours of operation, the areas of the property they’re wishing to access, the routes and use of roads and tracks, and your preference for communication whether that’s face-to-face, or phone, or email and or written

That information on the screen right now provides you some of the probably really basic consent agreement clauses that you would expect to be included in just about all land access consent agreements, and some of those things that you should really be thinking about right up front if in the event you are to be approached by an explorer looking to access your property.

[Slide: Establish special conditions]

There’s also a condition that’s worth thinking about that may not be as general, and it may be specific to your property and the operations that you have occurring on your property, and these could be things, conditions, that might be applied, just say for example, reinforce your property’s biosecurity, and might relate to vehicle cleanliness, these could be conditions relating to soil management, the protection of important flora and fauna on your property, and also particular access to the property during what are critical times such as lambing, calving and cropping seasons.

[Slide: Compensation]

So the issue of compensation, so a compensation paid as part of an agreement will only equate to the loss of income you have suffered or the loss of amenity you have sustained.

You don’t cut a portion of the value of minerals on your land because at this stage the crown still owns those minerals.

Now, an exploration company may not want to establish a compensation agreement at the start because they may be only doing reconnaissance or low impact work that would not have any adverse impacts on your income or your amenity.

And another point to remember here is that compensation is not just about money.

You can negotiate with the explorer on a whole range of things extending from fencing to road resurfacing to farm equipment and so on and so forth.

When it comes to a particular type of activity, so there will be a point in time where the explorer may not be able to do further work under their exploration until they’ve secured an approved work plan from the Earth Resources Regulator, and at this point in time the explorer is required to gain a written compensation agreement from him, and this is very much different from a consent agreement.

So the key difference being there is that a consent agreement is very much around access to your land, and a compensation agreement details how you will be compensated if you are made worse off by the explorer’s activities.

So consent is very much about access and compensation is essentially very much about that compensation in the event that you’re worse off.

And, you and the explorer may decide to establish the compensation mechanisms up front, or you might decide to wait until the explorer needs one under the legislation.

Again, they’re a really important to stress with this tool and the issue of compensation and consent is that you need to think about what works for you and your own unique circumstances and have that open and honest discussion with the explorer about that to really get an outcome that’s advantageous for both parties.

[Slide: Professional advice]

We absolutely appreciate that this is something that will no doubt be daunting for many of you, the idea of land access consent is something that is probably unfamiliar to a large number of you, and that’s why we developed a tool such as this.

We’d also recommend that you seek professional advice and a professional opinion when it comes to these big matters, particularly if you feel there’s particular matters within that you would like to get a second opinion from, and whether that’s advice from your solicitors or accountant or agricultural advisor, they are there to provide you with that trust and advice, and the government has an expectation that the explorer should reimburse you for any reasonable costs associated with obtaining that advice.

I would just like to stress as well that we have held sessions with agricultural advisors, accountants and solicitors within the region over the course of the last 12 or 18 months so a number of them will be aware of this tool and the Stavely Ground Release more broadly.

[Slide: Dispute settlement]

Another we question we often hear is what if we get to a point where the explorer can’t – you and the explorer can’t reach agreement about access to your property?

And our first suggestion here is that you try and independent dispute resolution service.

Look, critical to getting an agreement in place is obviously those points that I touched on earlier about going into something like this with an open mind and an open and honest communication with the explorer and really understanding what’s critical to you and what’s really important to you, but we do appreciate that there will be times where an agreement just can’t be reached, and as I said we do encourage you to try independent dispute resolution service first and you can go through services such as the Victorian Small Business Commission or Victoria’s Mining Board, and the contact details for these services are provided in the Land Access Consent pack which we’ll circulate to you in the coming days.

You or the exploration company can seek a ruling from VCAT or the Supreme Court in instances where it can’t be agreed as I touched on earlier, but again it’s really important we highlight that caveat there that VCAT won’t rule on whether or not the explorer can access your land.

The explorer can access your land and VCAT will only rule on conditions and compensation that you as the landholder are entitled to.

I think just summing here the really important point to make is that the vast majority of landholders and explorers work well together to negotiate consent that the results in outcome that works for all parties involved and it’s an amicable relationship.

You will see that through our landholder video that we’ll share the link to in the coming days.

It shows real farmers and real explorers that have been able to do this quite well and have had this activity undertaken on their properties and it’s worked for all involved.

So, I think that is a really important thing to remember here.

[Slide: Community engagement requirements]

Now, I’m about to had the floor over to Gippsland Prospecting, but before I do that I just want to make sure you’re aware of the obligations that minerals explorers have for informing the community.

As a part of their licence explorers are required to share information about their plans and programs and provide you with ample opportunity to express your views and feedback.

Gippsland Prospecting does have a local community engagement officer, you will meet shortly and I’m sure will be already known to a number of you in the area, and he’s there to assist in raising the company’s awareness of the community’s expectations, and you’ll be able to have access to Gippsland Prospecting’s contact details as well, they’re also available on the Earth Resources website but they’ll be available on the information that they present shortly.

[Slide: further information]

In terms of the department we’re also more than happy to help wherever we can and keep you informed about the work we’re doing within the area and our contact details are up on the slide there at the moment, both our email or you can phone Donna who you’ll also meet a little bit later on who’s our field based engagement officer for the region.

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

And if you have a question no matter how great or small might be, please don’t hesitate to get in touch we’re always more than happy to help wherever we can and to – if we don’t know the answer we’re always more than happy to help facilitate in following that up.

So I hope that helped in providing some further information about minerals exploration in the area and the Stavely Ground Release, but there will be an opportunity for questions at the end and I see some of those have come through on the chat function which is great to see, and I also note that we had quite a number of questions come through with the preregistration that were submitted and we’ll be getting to some of those as well throughout the session.

So I’d now like to hand over to the Gippsland Prospecting team, so that’s Kent Balas, Danny Grellet and Naomi Scott, and they’ll provide a bit more information around their exploration program.

I’ll just bring them up now, and I’ll hand over the floor too you Kent.

Kent Balas

Thanks very much Brett, and thanks to all your team for the hard work you’ve put in coordinating these sessions, it’s much appreciated, you’ve done a terrific job.

I haven’t got the slides there yet, but yeah, as Brett mentioned we’ve got on the call being myself, Naomi Scott who’s the General Counsel Field, it’s now Battery Minerals, and Danny Grellet who’s next to me here.

So, we’ll be playing our part in explaining what we’ve got coming up.

[Slide: Community Consultation - Gippsland Prospecting Pty Ltd]

The first thing I want to point out Gippsland Prospecting has made a funding agreement with Battery Minerals, it’s an ASX listed exploration company, and I’ll just throwover to Naomi to introduce Battery Minerals and that transaction.

Thanks Naomi.

Naomi Scott

Thanks Kent for the intro, and Brett for hosting the session.

[Slide: The Company]

Good evening, it’s a pleasure to present here this evening.

My name is Naomi Scott and I’m the General Counsel for Battery Minerals.

And as Kent just mentioned, Battery Minerals acquired Gippsland Prospecting, which is the holder of the licence we’re talking about today, in March 2020.

So Battery Minerals is a diversified mining company with assets in Australia and Africa.

It’s a listed, it’s listed on the Australian Stock Exchange un the ticker BAT.

The board and management reflected in this slide here are seasoned representatives of the mining community who developed world-class assets in harmony with the communities around those resources.

Upon acquisition of Gippsland Prospecting this year the former directors of that entity Kent Balas here today, Alan Marlow and Darryl Clark joined us as part of the Battery Minerals team and we’re very grateful to have them on board with their expertise.

As a company we raised $5.5m to complete the exploration on this licence.

So my background is human rights and social development.

I worked in the United Nations as a peacekeeper for much of my career.

And after that I’ve since worked with Battery Minerals as General Counsel which includes supporting the company to develop its assets in a responsible and transparent manner and in collaboration working with the community.

So I look forward to chatting with you and to the discussions that we’re going to have this evening, and to seeing you on the ground sometime in the future.

Thanks Kent.

Kent Balas

Thanks Naomi.

Can we go to the next slide please Brett?

[Slide: Who are we - the people on the ground]

So, I’d like to introduce Danny Grellet who has just joined us as sort of our community relations liaison and organiser for pretty much everything, and we’re good friends so I’ll just hand over to Danny now.

Danny Grellet

Thanks Kent.

I grew up in Great Western on a sheep farm that is [0:39:27] opal.

I’ve got a 600 acre sheep farm there now that I’ve been running for quite a while.

I went to school in Stawell, primary school in Great Western.

Some of you may have been around the district for a while may have noticed me at BP, I was one of the bowser boys at BP for many years in the mid-2000s.

I also worked for IGA.

My training, in the last 15 years I’ve worked as a mining engineer and I currently run my own consultancy business on the side, and I’ve been working for Battery Minerals [0:40:01] last, about a month or so, and I’m pretty keen to help Battery Minerals advance their projects and develop potentially what will be a world-class resource.

For the most part, because what mining could potentially bring to the community and the benefits it brings to us all indirectly and directly, so directly you see – well I have many friends that work at the Stawell goldmine and the fruits of what Navarre Minerals have been doing in the district have flown through to many of the local businesses.

As an example of what a world-class asset can do, the Fosterville goldmine near Bendigo produced approximately 620,000 ounces of gold in 2019, and I think the state government are taking a 2.7% royalty on that, and equates to approximately $40m of revenue, and that’s just the royalties for the state government, it doesn’t consider any of the costs that get spent, so there’s a significant amount of money gets generated through mining and that’s what I’m really keen to try and find it in our district, the next big thing to help boost our economy along in the area where we are.

So, you’ve already met Naomi and Kent and is discussed with Alan Marlow who’s a pretty good rock geek and wizard and knows a thing or two about rocks, so that’s the main team we’ll see on the ground.

We’ll hopefully, or most likely when we start boosting employment as we start to get into things.

Next slide thanks Brett.

[Slide: Environment & sustainability]

So the biggest aspect of what we’re going to try and do as a company within the area, and not putting aside the exploration, is to try and make sure we leave the place as we found it or if not better.

Some of you may be aware that Project Platypus was set up by CRA which is now Rio Tinto, the foundation of Project Platypus were in an exploration company.

We’ve been workshopping in house some ideas as a local landholder I’ve got some priorities and some passionate interests of mine that I’d like to help improve my property and my farm, and the biggest one for me is regenerative agriculture.

The world’s largest carbon sink is in our soil but many of our farms are dirt and trying to transfer dirt into soil is the biggest potential for carbon sink and carbon storage on earth, so that’s a huge one for me.

The other big ticket item we’ve been discussing in house is continuing the good work that’s been done in the past with ridge tree windbreaks and erosion control.

So as I said before Project Platypus is probably a leading land-keeper in our district and we’re hoping to try and team up with them and expedite some of their priority attenders and help assist them in any way we can.

We’re really wanting to be responsible and responsible citizens and work within the groups.

So as I said, these are some of the priorities we’ve come up with, but if there are any issues that you have as a local landholder you think we might be able to assist with, please come forward and suggest whatever you have, and if there’s something of interest we might be able to help out.

The other one there I didn’t touch on was the wildlife rescue, so many of you have probably seen the many kangaroos on the roadsides and a lot of the wildlife rescue ventures are pretty poorly funded and could probably do with a boost, so we’re going to look into that as well.

It should be known that we’re very much serious respect for exploration licence and we’re developing these ideas as we go along, so as we hopefully get out and meet many of you, try and understand what your issues or potential ideas might be.

We can go to the next slide please Brett.

[Slide: Land Holder Consultation process]

I suppose the big thing for landholders is will my property be affected, will the environment be affected, and if so when will it happen?

This is really just an approximate schedule for the next little while.

As I said, we’re in our infancy and we’re developing schedules and targets in the coming months.

So from now until January you’ll see us, we’ll hopefully engage with landholders and get agreements on the ground.

And then from Feb to March we’ll be continuing those agreements and really knuckling down trying to establish those relationships, the meaningful and beneficial relationships for us all.

As Brett succinctly demonstrated that landholders and exploration licence holders have worked very well in the past and we hope to continue that relationship.

And then Phase 3 will be just ongoing engagement on an individual basis once we start to identify some of these primary targets.

Next slide thanks Brett.

[Slide: Future Resource Development]

We’ve touched on some of the odds or the chances that an exploration target might be turned into a mine.

This is just some data pulled from Rio Tinto to further that point a little bit more.

So one in 1,000 are the odds of a greenfield mineral project ever becoming a profitable mine; one in 3,333 are the odds of a greenfield mineral target becoming a world-class mine; and 10% is the amount of gold deposits with enough gold to justify any further development.

The summary of that slide is that it’s highly unlikely that anything will be discovered within our district, but we’re hoping to find something as all explorers do.

And if you’ve been in this area long enough you’ll probably know that there have been many explorers over time that have been fairly unsuccessful let alone the Stawell goldmine and recently Stavely Minerals, so yeah, pretty unsuccessful.

Next slide please Brett.

[Slide: Minerals Exploration]

So, what does minerals exploration mean for the landholders, and Brett’s touched on those but I’ll just quickly brush over it again?

For us as a company we want to make sure we’re operating in the most open and transparent and honest way we possibly can.

We’re not out to go behind people’s backs or to be dishonest in any way.

And as I said, if there’s any issues or potential discrepancies with those types of ideas please come forward, contact me or Kent and try and get them resolved.

So as Kent said before, I’ll be the main point and the community liaison going forward.

As I should have pointed out before, the main crux of what we’re doing in the next few months is just meeting landholders and obtaining agreements, and then from there we’ll put boots on the ground and have some geologists looking over some rocks on properties just trying to identify where the central targets might be.

Where possible and feasible we’re going to try and spend as much money of our budget as we can within the local community.

We’re a season mining community and there’s plenty of people who have got lots of skills in the area so that shouldn’t be a problem spending money for the industry.

Then after that, once and if there is a potential target identified there is potential for more machinery to be mobilised on site and you might see drills and trucks and things in the district on roads.

Approximately five people is the number that you’ll ever see on one exploration target at one time, give and take one or two with the geologist coming down.

Next slide thanks Brett.

[Slide: What are our values?]

So most corporate companies have a set of values and they’re all pretty similar and they basically boil down to being a good person and acting honestly, but these are just some ones to touch on that, open and honest as I said.

Understanding and communicating with people is just true for all aspects of business and we’re striving to be extremely understanding of all our people within our community.

Acting responsibly, conducting heritage surveys were appropriate with the relative authorities and protection indigenous sites of cultural and spiritual significance, so we’ve already reached out to some of the traditional landholders and we’re working through with them to figure out what we need to do to work in with them.

Complying with all applicable legal and regulatory requirements as a minimum standard, so mining companies are probably one of the most regulated industries in our country and we’ll be developing our own procedures and standards, most likely which will be above and beyond what the legislation has in place.

That’s just acting as a responsible business in the mining community.

Next slide thanks Brett.

[Slide: Why do we want to explore in Western Victoria?]

Now I’ll hand over to Kent to talk about rocks.

Kent Balas

Thanks Danny.

Yeah, I’m going to talk about the rocks.

My profession is an exploration geologist a bit too long now.

So the two pictures there, like I guess most people will sort of indecipherable.

I just want to briefly explain a bit about the geology of Block 4.

So I’ll refer first to the image on the right.

Down almost the centre of Block 4 we’ve got a structure known as the Moyston Fault.

So if you look on that picture the gold area lies to the east of the Moyston Fault and purple-pinky area lies to the west, and it’s quite a major division in Eastern Australia that sort of divides one geological time scale to another and one type of terrain from another.

And what that means in a practical sense for us is that in one area we look for a particular type of gold deposit, so in the golden area we’re pretty much just looking for gold, and in the purple area we’re looking for copper and gold in a different type of deposit style.

To us as geologists this area has a fascinating history and what has happened there is incredible.

So the story of earth is amazing, so if you are interested we’ll be running field trips in the coming months when COVID restrictions allow, and we’ll get that notice out to the community through our website or through a mail out and everyone’s welcome to join.

Refer to the image on the left, so that shows sort of the same area what we call prospect mapped out, or prospect areas.

So these are areas that we’ve identified through research and historical data, from other explorers, from satellite data, from our own sort of reconnaissance on the roads, and these are sort of areas that we think, yeah, that’s interesting, they could host a particular deposit.

So the point I want to make there it’s a huge 800 square kilometre block, we’re certainly not going to find a deposit everywhere on that block.

What we’re talking about is something that’s a very small footprint and it’s like a needle in a haystack what we’re looking for.

[Slide: Example of field reconnaissance areas of interest]

Our next slide if that’s okay Brett, yeah.

So this next slide shows a couple of working images of mine, how we think about geology.

The rainbow coloured base maps there are magnetic images. [audio glitch] going on with the blocks.

We collect these datasets and they’re collated by the government over many years, and then we put them all together and we try to understand where a deposit might be.

So in this instance I’ve just drawn red lines in an area that might be prospect, and it will intersect a whole number of properties, and we’re just looking for a small spot along line where a deposit might be.

The image on the right is very similar and the yellow dots show historical geochemical samples taken by other explorers.

So exploration has gone on in this block since the 1850s that gold was first found out in this district, and ever since people have been looking more and more and we think there can be more deposits found out there.

So next slide please Brett.

[Slide: What is our goal?]

So what is our goal?

We want to discover a world-class deposit and we’ve put the team in place to do it, we’ve got the funding in place, and we’re really excited about it.

And the second part of it is we want to be a good citizen of the district, we don’t want to be in conflict with anyone, and as Danny pointed out, we want to leave this place better than we found it.

So planning, all sorts of community initiatives we want to support and over the coming weeks and months we’ll engage with the community and nut out exactly what that will mean.

[Slide: Please contact us]

So there’s our contact details.

Anyone that’s got any issues or problems my phone number is there, email and Naomi’s email, please contact us, we’re approachable people.

Alan and myself we’ve been out today chipping rocks [audio glitch].

You know, a bit hot, but we’ll be around the district.

If you see us on the roadsides say Gidday, Al loves meeting new people, chatting, and yeah, Danny will be in touch with you, a lot of you might know him so yeah, thanks very much, I appreciate your time and hope to see you soon.

Brett Millsom

Thanks Kent, thanks Danny and thanks also to Naomi.

We are just about to get into questions.

Before I do that I do just want to take a moment to introduce another member of our Donna Mongan, who is our Field-based Engagement Officer.

It’s most likely in the coming weeks and months as COVID restrictions ease you will see Donna out and about and she’ll be our face on the ground.

So I am just going to hand over to Donna to do a quick introduction and then we’ll get stuck into the questions which we’ve received plenty of which is great.

There is a question I think from Liz that I’ll just address quickly around what about the questions that were asked with the registrations.

Don’t worry Liz we’ve got all those and we’ll be addressing those throughout the Q&A session.

That being said I’d like to quickly hand over to Donna Mongan to introduce her, so welcome to you Donna.

Donna Mongan

Hello everybody.

As Brett mentioned my name is Donna Mongan, I am the Community Engagement Officer for Minerals Development Victoria.

And I’ve been in touch with some of you over the past few days regarding this session, and during this session with a few little technological details, so I’m really looking forward to actually seeing you face-to-face.

I have connections with the area right through to past Horsham, so I am familiar with your turf, and again I’d really like to send you some information after the session tomorrow most likely, covering off on important details that we covered during this session, and the land access consent tool and video just for your information.

And if you have any further questions please feel free to give me a call.

You’ve got my phone number, you’ve got my email, and I really would cherish the opportunity to work with you through the project.

Thank you.

Brett Millsom

Many thanks for that Donna and I’m sure many of you will be seeing her out and about in the weeks and months ahead.

We now have reached question time which at eight o’clock is fantastic, we have got plenty of time for questions.

I’m going to kick it off by going to some of the ones that have come in with the registrations prior to, and I’m going to introduce to another one of our colleagues here, Annie Farrow, who’s the Acting Manager of Resource Strategy and Industry Investment.

I’m going to start with you Annie.

The question with the registrations, why are landholders only being told about this two years after the government released the blocks for exploration in 2018, is this a serious community consultation?

Annie Farrow

Thanks Brett.

Yeah, a good question, thank you for it whoever posted it.

This isn’t actually the first time landholders have been informed about the Stavely Ground Release and there was an associated tender with it.

I first joined in the organisation in late 2017 and certainly we were out and about since then.

We have undertaken quite a number of engagements, particularly when the ground release was announced.

We’ve held sessions across and around the Grampians area.

We’ve also attended Sheepvention at least two or three times, and attended the Horsham Willaura Field days on two or three occasions as well.

As each licensee has received their licence we’ve come out to the region and undertaken community information sessions.

Last year we did Mortlake and Dunkeld and places in the north.

We apologies, we haven’t been out this year, COVID has prevented us from coming out, but yeah, this isn’t the first time.

We’ve had a regular newsletter, I’m sorry if you have missed out and that is the first time you’ve heard about it, but certainly get in contact with Donna and she can provide you with a lot more information.

Brett Millsom

Thanks Annie, and I’m going to stay with you for the next question as well.

Why is government charging rent for private title for the whole area for a peppercorn amount? When government does not own the titles you cannot charge rent for what you do not have the title ownership for, is the question that’s come through.

So I’ll hand back over to you Annie.

Annie Farrow

Thank you.

This is actually quite a complicated question and complicated answer, so hopefully I’ll be able to explain it well.

So the rent is the amount paid to the Crown, i.e. the government, for the receipt of a right to explore for minerals.

So that is, it’s a payment for being granted an exploration licence and with it the ability, subject to all regulations, to conduct exploration activities.

Now, it’s appropriate that that rent comes to the Crown just as a royalty is paid if a mining company is extracting mineral, so too is a payment made for exploring for the mineral.

Now, as it was mentioned by Brett in his presentation, in Australia, in Victoria, the Crown owns the minerals on behalf of all the people.

So your freehold title does not provide you with any rights over minerals found on your land, nor does it provide you with any rights to explore for minerals.

If you want to explore for minerals on your private property you would need to apply for an exploration licence, and you would similarly have to pay rent to the Crown.

So it’s very old-fashioned these terms of Crown, a royalty, rent, I guess it goes back forever, but the rent is basically just a payment to the Crown in lieu of being granted that right.

Now, in terms of whether it’s a peppercorn rent I couldn’t say, it’s actually quite complicated, I know it’s 6.9 units per 10 graticules, and a graticule let’s say roughly a square kilometre, and I think this block Kent is 809 square kilometres, but I can’t actually remember of the top of my head I’m sorry what the fee units is, but when we get back to you with regard to the written answers we will provide that to you.

I think that’s enough on that question.

Brett Millsom

Thanks for that one Annie.

I’m going to pass over now to some of the questions that have come in from the chat.

I’m going to hand over to Gippsland Prospecting on this one.

The question is what does exploration involve? And, I think it might be good Kent if you can just tell us about what exploration involves for your program.

Kent Balas

Yeah, no worries.

So, at an early stage and a good example of the things that we did today, I was just driving around roads in the local district looking at the colour of the soil, the topography, comparing it with maps I have in my iPhone, it’s different if you have paper maps we could roll them out on the bonnet of cars.

At an early stage we just try to understand the geology, it’s geology, you know, it happens over a very, very long period of time, you know hundreds of millions to billions of years.

And so a lot of things happen and it makes it complex to understand the story of the earth.

So when we gain access to a property we typically might go, look for actual rocks, you know, because there’s not rocks everywhere, there’s soil and grass and trees, and we might find a rock and look at it and I’ll hand it Al and he’ll get out his [1:04:01] and look at it in more detail and make an assessment of what that rock means to us.

At the next stage we might bring in a triple rig if we jump through all those hurdles.

And typically, as a guess, we might look at a hundred sites and we might drill at two, you know, so there’s a lot of early stage work that we do, a lot of data collation that leads to a targeted, you know, bringing in heavy equipment and targeting it exactly to achieve our goal.

Brett Millsom

Thanks Kent.

I’m going to come back to you Annie with a question that we received with the registrations, and this may be one you need to take on notice, but is there an obligation to return property to the way it was before exploration in a required timeframe?

Annie Farrow

Good question, thank you Brett.

So all disturbed areas need to be revegetated and reinstated back to the natural surface, or to a stable landfall similar to that of the surround undisturbed areas unless a work plan specifies that that can be different, a work plan being a plan approved by the Earth Resources Regulator.

So the licensee must ensure that those disturbed areas are rehabilitated as soon as possible after the completion of works.

I think the work plan actually would specify the dates but that would be on a case-by-case basis because it depends on the degree of disturbance and the acreage or the area of disturbance.

The licensee must also ensure that indigenous species are used in the rehabilitation and that they’re sourced from the local area.

Now there are specific guidelines provided to explorers in the code of practice around rehabilitation and that kind of practice, I can’t remember whether it was mentioned earlier in your presentation Brett, but it’s a code of practice for minerals explorers and that’s freely available on our Earth Resources website.

Donna will provide a link to it.

And it’s actually quite a useful document full of information that you too as landholders and community members can read up about what are the obligations that an explorer must meet, and the rehab ones are in there as well.

Brett Millsom

And staying with you Annie, the next question, what happens to wildlife protection along the river and Aboriginal cultural heritage if any of it is protected?

Annie Farrow

Okay, yeah, good question again, thank you.

So, I think there was another question about the river I’ll answer the wildlife one first.

So, under the Minerals Resources Sustainable Development Act, an exploration licensee has to submit a work plan approval request if it intends to do any work that would exceed what is defined as something greater than low impact exploration.

And generally that includes matters where the explorer might pose a risk to flora and fauna, and when the explorer submits this work plan the Earth Resources Regulator will review it and also, not only review the proposal but what the explorer explains on how they’re going to mitigate risks to things like wildlife or flora/fauna, but then sends the proposal to DELWP, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, I think I’ve got that order right, who obviously have experts in environmental matters and they would assess that work plan to determine whether the explorer’s actions and mitigation strategies are sufficient to enable them to comply with the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act, the Federal Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act, and any other environment act that protects flora and fauna.

So that’s how that happens in addition to the fact that the explorer cannot operate within 200 metres of a waterway, and if they want to operate closer than that to the river, again that triggers the need for a work plan and in that case it would be assessed both by the flora and fauna people but also all of the water people.

Aboriginal cultural heritage, absolutely that is protected.

That is protected throughout the state of Victoria on both freehold land and crown land.

So any time an explorer is operating they need to be mindful of Aboriginal cultural heritage.

It’s illegal to damage Aboriginal cultural heritage.

If the explorer is intending to operate in an area that is deemed under the Aboriginal Heritage Act to be an area of cultural sensitivity, and it intends to do work under the Aboriginal Heritage Act that is deemed to be ground-disturbing, then the explorer must stop work and obtain a cultural heritage management plan, otherwise it can continue to work.

If the explorer finds, or the exploration activity reveals Aboriginal cultural heritage, it must stop work and those artefacts must be verified by the local registered Aboriginal party, and then a whole lot of other things start to kick in under the Aboriginal Heritage Act.

So Aboriginal cultural heritage is well protected in the state of Victoria.

Enough I think.

Brett Millsom

That’s fantastic, thanks Annie.

There’s a couple of comments I’ll just note in there, the chat function, around some connectivity issues that some people are having, I think John has already made the point in there but I will just reiterate for those of you that may not have seen it, we will be making a recording of this session available online afterwards, so you will be able to catch up on anything you may have missed, and we’ll certainly be circulating the answers to the Q&As via emails in the coming days and weeks.

I’m going to come back to you Annie with a question from the chat.

This is one that came in yesterday’s session as well and came through with a number of the registrations, always one that’s of high interest around access and determination on access.

And I think probably more a clarification from someone around what we are saying is we don’t have the right to refuse because the mining company can take it further if they choose.

Is that right?

Annie Farrow

Yes, so another way of putting that is can I refuse entry to my property?

So, to answer that last one first, so I think Brett, you did indicate that the Crown, i.e. the government owns the minerals.

Landholders and occupiers do not have absolute power to control access to their private property.

So, the Crown owns the minerals on behalf of the people, an act of parliament and in this case it’s the Minerals Resources Sustainable Development Act gives the government the right to grant licences to companies to search for minerals, and they can undertake that search on both crown land and freehold land.

But, a licensee must gain your informed consent in order to enter your property.

But, if an agreement to access your property can’t be reached then the explorer may indeed take you to VCAT or the Supreme Court.

We suggest you get legal advice.

The act says, or suggests that VCAT and the Supreme Court would only determine how much compensation you’re entitled to, those institutions cannot decide upon whether or not the licensee has the right to enter your property, that is sort of taken as given.

So that said, most explorers do not want to cause any angst.

They will reassess their exploration targets.

Sometimes they may have sufficient flexibility for them to work instead on a roadside or on a neighbour’s property, but sometimes not, and they’ll try and negotiate a deal with you.

So, I think it’s in everyone’s interest to try and sit down and come to some kind of agreement rather than heading off in a legal track.

Brett Millsom

You can catch your breath, have a glass of water Annie because I’m going to let you off the hook for the next couple of questions.

I’m going to Kent and the Gippsland Prospecting team.

Kent, a question which had come through with the preregistrations: If you need to access our property will you organise a time that suits us?

Kent Balas

Yes is the short answer, so we’ll work with landholders absolutely in all cases, so times of access, you know, like the routes of access, all of the details around this we’ll work with landholders to something that works for both of us.

Brett Millsom

Fantastic, and staying with you.

How much notice is given to landholders if Gippsland Prospecting wishes to carry out exploration on their land?

If mineral explorations take place on my land will I be given more than eight hours’ notice, and how is this information to be communicated?

Kent Balas

We’ll give the minimum of seven days’ notice or by mutual agreement, some other amount of time, but typically we will negotiate a land access agreement and negotiate the hours of access, and have a sort of positive communication with the landholder all along.

So, typically notice of access will be much longer than seven days, months ahead if we need to access for say drilling, we plan things out very carefully, so we’ll have dates and model meetings prior to anything like that occurring.

Brett Millsom

Thanks Kent, and staying with you.

A couple of questions have come through regarding probably more corporate structure just regarding the difference between Gippsland Prospecting and Battery Minerals.

It might just be worth – are you able to just provide – I don’t need you to touch on one of your sites, but just provide an overview of the relationship between those two companies?

Naomi Scott

Yeah, I can speak to that one Brett.

So Battery Minerals owns Gippsland Prospecting, so Battery Minerals is the holding company and it is legally responsible for the actions of Gippsland Prospecting which is the owner of the licence.

Brett Millsom

Thanks for that Naomi.

And, we’re going to go back to you Kent.

What are plans if some minerals are discovered in the area?

Kent Balas

Well, at the end of the day, what I said in the presentation, we’re looking for a world-class mine so we’ll go through all of the processes that are involved in making that happen, which will briefly mean years of exploration, then years of environmental approvals and various other state approvals as per the regulations.

The amount of work involved is enormous and it’s years of work and I often describe it as like a baton race, you know, these projects take many, many years to complete.

As an example our neighbour Stavely Minerals has been at work for, I think, for around a decade or over a decade and has probably spent at a guess $100m exploring in Victoria.

So what we’re talking about is not a mine tomorrow, not a mine next year or the year after or the year after that, you know, it will be a long process to achieve what we want to achieve but every journey starts with the first step and this is the first step.

Danny Grellet

If there are minerals on your property or if they’re not then, as Kent alluded to, or one of the others, we have an open-door policy and if you’d like to find out what’s on your property please come forward and have a chat with us, we’d be more than happy to take you through what might or may not be on your property.

Brett Millsom

Thanks Kent, thanks Danny.

I’m going to you first one Kent, and I might come to you Annie if you’d like to add anything further to it, but it’s a question around compensation and what compensation does the landholder receive if Gippsland Prospecting wishes to come onto their property.

Kent Balas

So, that will be negotiated as part of our land access agreements on a case-by-case basis.

So, we don’t have a set structure but in each case we’ll compensate for the loss of amenity if there is that.

And, farmers may wish to get compensation on other things like a road may need to be built, a new fence may need to be put up.

I know farms are a very capital-intensive venture, so there’s a range of things we can negotiate on, and as we’ve alluded to previously, it will affect a small number of landholders.

We’re not talking about going out to everyone’s property and starting drilling, that’s not the case.

Do you have anything to add there Annie?

Annie Farrow

Yeah, I do, thank you Kent.

They’re great questions tonight aren’t they?

So, under the Minerals Resources Sustainable Development Act landholders and land occupiers must be compensated if there is any loss of income or loss of amenity or any damage directly caused by exploration activities.

The list of things that might be compensated for is actually articulated in the act, but it’s a non-exhaustive list.

Whether or not you can get compensated for the, what I will call the inconvenience of exploration, is purely a commercial matter, so that’s for you and Kent to work out.

So there are some things for which must be compensated for and if you go to the tool that Brett talked about, that’s all documented in that tool.

I understand Donna will send you a direct link to the tool on our website tomorrow or in coming days, but we would sort of suggest that you get some professional advice.

But it’s unlikely that you’ll need to talk about compensation now because the first thing is to talk about consent, providing consent to access your properties.

Compensation is quite a long way off Kent isn’t it, because based on activity.

So that should be it.

Brett Millsom

Thanks Annie.

Kent I’m going to come back to you, and there’s a couple of question we had come through both in the preregistration and also in the chat around what, and I know this is quite speculative and it’s quite some way down the track which is a point that both you and I have been making tonight and others, but what might a mining operation look like if you were to discover something?

There’s questions around would it be open-cut, would it underground?

Appreciate that it is probably all quite speculative but I might just ask you of your opinion on that one.

Kent Balas

Thanks for the question, and it’s a good one.

The answer to that, and most people that are in the district would know the Stawell Mine, you know, that’s how a major mining operation looks in this area.

The Stawell Mine is nearly in the centre of Stawell and if you’re in Stawell you wouldn’t be aware it’s there, so that typically is the type of footprint, what we’re looking for, would have on the surface of the land.

Danny Grellet

And if it comes right down, the Stawell Mine was first developed in the seventies and regulations and environmental procedures then were very much not what they are now.

It’s a much more stringent process to get a mine approved, so modern day mining footprint will be much different to what the Stawell goldmine is.

I’ve worked at the Fosterville goldmine which is just out of Heathcote and their footprint is very small on the property, the farmers have been, I’d say, through four-ironed of the mine in golfing terms four-ironed, and the noise requirement we must comply by and the farmer still lives happily there, and that doesn’t resemble a modern day mining footprint.

Brett Millsom

Thanks Danny, thanks Kent.

I’m going to stay with you on this one because I think you might be familiar with this project.

But, how will Gippsland Prospecting minerals exploration activity impact the propose East Grampians Pipeline Project?

Danny Grellet

My farm is on the Great Western Moyston Road and the pipeline is going through my property.

I’m going to link up to it and be part of it.

The trenches that we dug and the pipes that will be laid will be helpful for us in trying to identify what minerals are there if there are any, but it’s largely not going to influence or impact anything that we do or they do and we’ll be very much independent from what they do.

Brett Millsom

Great, thank you.

And a couple of questions around animals on properties, so two in particular here I’ll ask them both to you.

If you access our property what protocols are in place if our dogs roam our whole property and we have livestock?

And a follow up to that one, an overarching question of is it safe minerals exploration can be safe for livestock?

I think you might be on mute, you might just need too unmute your microphone.

Danny Grellet

My family have got a water boring business in the district and if you’ve ever seen a water boring drawing it is a very similar set up to that.

In terms of individual policies in the biosecurity for all your farm we will make sure we comply by the standards you have to control your animals or stock above and beyond what our policies are, so we’ll always make sure we complement whatever your requirements are in that respect.

Brett Millsom

Thanks Danny.

And another one looking probably a little bit further down the track but again I might just ask you to offer your opinions on this one.

But, if it does include our land is the question, what exactly does that mean for us and the farm?

Do you actually purchase the land?

And, I’m going to assume that this question has come if you were to progress to something more commercial.

Danny Grellet

Depending on what the deposit is, a top deposit and the depth of the deposit, style of the deposit that will largely govern what type of footprint it is, so the main differences are that we either an open pit, and this is all very hypothetical if we do find something, which the odds are we [audio glitch] so keep in mind, but if we were to find a deposit which is an open pit obviously the footprint of an open pit is much more drastic than an underground.

But in saying that an open pit the environmental and regulatory requirements to get an open pit approved are much more stringent and heavy duty going than what it is to get an underground footprint approved purely because of the size of the land and the effort required to get something like that happening.

But yes, if and when there is a deposit found on the property it will be acquired and the landholder will be compensated very generously.

Brett Millsom

Thank you.

And I’m going to come back to your Annie for this one.

Why is the heritage-listed Wimmera River and reserves included in the area?

Annie Farrow

Yeah, good question.

So, where a river is safeguarded by a number of regulations under the minerals act and the water act and presumably the heritage act, so that’s why it was retained within the boundaries of the ground release and subsequently the blocks that we tendered, and likewise for reserves.

So you can’t, I think I said earlier, you can’t undertake exploration activity within 200 metres of a waterway.

Now, if an explorer wants to operate within that 200 metres it will automatically trigger the need for a work plan, which has a much higher level of regulatory oversight, so the explorer would have to submit a plan which identifies all of the environment risks that its proposed activities would pose, and the plan for mitigation strategies are around those risks.

Now, Earth Resources Regulator would then review the work plan, but also refer that work plan to experts.

So it will send the work plan and the mitigation strategies over to DELWP, but also in this case if it’s around a river, to the local catchment management authority and the local water authority.

Now, the regulator, our Earth Resources Regulator, will not approve that work plan until DELWP and the water authorities approve the mitigation strategies and is able to say to the Earth Resources Regulator, yes, the mitigation strategies and the plans within this work plan are sufficient to ensure that Gippsland Prospecting will be able to comply with the Water Act and all of the other related environmental acts.

With regard to reserves, again these are safeguarded by regulations in other acts depending upon the type and nature of the reserve, but the same process applies as I’ve described for the river, that DELWP would have to sign off.

Now in most cases special permission is needed for any exploration on what we would classify as restricted crown land, and restricted crown land does include flora and fauna reserves, wildlife reserves, natural feature reserves, scenic reserves, cave reserves, geological reserves, I can’t remember them all, scenic reserves, bushland reserves, so reserves.

And because they’re restricted crown land the explorer can’t go onto those until it has a work plan and that DELWP has given its permission for activity to take place in those areas.

Brett Millsom

Thank you Annie.

We are just about at time folks, but I am going to squeeze in one or two more questions that have just come in, only recently on the chat function.

And Kent and Danny, I’m going to pose these ones to you.

These ones are in regards to potentially target areas or where you might be targeting.

There’s a question on there around does the company know what properties they will be drilling on now, or potentially which companies would be looking more preferable due to the geology?

Kent Balas

The short answer on drilling is no, we don’t know which properties we’ll be drilling on now.

The second part of the question is yes, we do know some areas that we think are more preferable due to the geology.

So, some farmers we’ll be contacting over the next coming weeks to arrange for the land access consent, and then progressing further.

As we go on there’s different activities that we’ll undertake, different studies using satellite data for instance, and this may enable us to narrow down our search.

Brett Millsom

Thank Kent.

And I think this will be the last one for the evening, but coming back to you.

It’s a question around size of areas likely to be accessed.

The question is what size land is likely to not be accessed?

Are small acreages likely to be of interest or not of interest?

Kent Balas

Typically we would focus on large acreages, but in some cases small acreages may be of interest, but there’s a whole lot of government regulation around proximity to housing and these sorts of things.

So our strong preference is to do our work on large acreages.

Brett Millsom


Thanks Kent.

And I think that brings a number of the questions we’ve had to a close, and I’m really going to bring tonight’s session to a close now.

A couple of sort of wind up points I would just like to make.

Firstly, thank you to all of you for your participation tonight, for your registrations, for your calls over the last couple of days.

I know many of you have spoken with Donna about the session and for showing an interest and for attending tonight, we appreciate that.

We are heading into what is a very busy time of year in what is a very strange year for all of us, so we certainly do appreciate you making the time available to attend this evening’s session.

In terms of the questions that we did receive with the preregistrations that we maybe didn’t get time to get to tonight, or those that we may have missed in the chat function, don’t panic, we will be getting written responses to all the questions, both those we have answered and those we didn’t quite get around to in the coming weeks and days.

Do give us a little bit of time because there is quite a volume of questions which is great to see, I think it’s just reflective of the level of interest that there is in this issue in the area.

I’d just like to take the opportunity to pass on a big thank you to all of my colleagues and to the Gippsland Prospecting team that have been involved in tonight’s session, so Kent Balas, Danny Grellet, Naomi Scott, many thanks to the three of you for making the time available tonight to participate.

To Annie Farrow and Donna Mongan thanks to both of you for all your efforts tonight.

One person you haven’t seen tonight although you may have seen his name on the chat, John Dunlevy, another colleague of mine who’s put in a large amount of work in the days leading up to tonight’s session, and also tonight to make tonight happen.

Despite the luxury of sitting in front of a computer at home, there is still an equal amount of work that goes into making virtual sessions like this tonight happen, so I think for some of us in some respect think it’s more work in some respects to make something like this happen, and as much as we would all prefer to be out with you in person in the region, we much prefer to do things that way obviously, certain restrictions don’t quite allow for that.

But we certainly do hope you’ll be seeing some more of us early into the New Year and beyond.

And a final note from me, and I will say this now, today is the 25th of November which of course means it is exactly one month until Christmas, so in signing off I’d just like to pass on my best wishes to all of you for a happy and a safe festive season, and I look forward to chatting, and certainly the team look forward to chatting with hopefully many of you if not before Christmas into the New Year.

Thanks all.

Annie Farrow

Thank you Brett, thank you everybody.


Thanks everyone.

Page last updated: 02 Sep 2022