Beneath the plains of Western Victoria, known geologically as the Stavely Arc, could lie the minerals needed to boost the state’s supply of advanced technologies.
Geologists believe that 500 million years ago Western Victoria was on the border of a super-continent called Gondwana, giving it a similar geological environment at the time to the copper-rich Andes in South America. One new mineral discovery has already been made on the back of renewed interest in the region’s geological setting.
Major work over the last decade conducted by the Geological Survey of Victoria and Geoscience Australia led to the 2018 Stavely Ground Release, which is expected to encourage an investment in minerals exploration of over $20 million with potential for more to come.
As part of that, Victorian-based Westrock Minerals Pty Ltd has been issued a Minerals Exploration Licence for an area approximately 35 kilometres east of Hamilton and north of Warrnambool. The licence is expected to generate more than $7.5 million in local expenditure.
Westrock Minerals has been supported by the Victorian Government with a $500,000 co-funded exploration grant from the TARGET Minerals Exploration Initiative program to help with early-stage exploration activity.
Two Retention Licences have also been issued to Stavely Minerals Limited to allow it to conduct more targeted exploration and potential resource development on ground near Ararat.
The company is expected to spend $10 million in the region as it searches for gold, silver and other base metals.
Minerals exploration spending in Victoria has outpaced the nation over the past four years, delivering jobs across regional Victoria.
The pipeline of projects in the sector remains broad with 83 new mineral licence applications received by the regulator this financial year, and February marking a five-year high for applications.
Minister for Resources, Jaclyn Symes said the Victorian Government’s investment in geoscience will support regional jobs and reveal the building blocks for economic growth.
“The interest from companies and our exploration statistics show a vote of confidence in our minerals exploration sector and the role it has to play in supporting Victorian jobs and our economy,” she stated.
Community engagement remains an essential part of the approvals process – new advertising guidelines for exploration licences introduced by ERR ensures communities have every opportunity to contribute to local minerals development decisions.
In Victoria, landholder consent is required before access to privately owned land to explore for minerals is granted. Information and templates to guide negotiations between landholders and explorers are available at earthresources.vic.gov.au