By Colin MacGillivray
MELBOURNE mining company Syndicate Minerals is among a throng of groups applying for exploration licences across the north central region, with bids to explore for gold north and to the west of Lancefield.
Syndicate Minerals has lodged applications with the State Government’s Earth Resources branch for exploration licences EL007259 and EL007260, which together stretch from Hesket in the south to west of Tooborac in the north and encompass areas such as Pipers Creek, Cobaw, Benloch, Pastoria and Baynton.
The applications are part of a trend of companies scouring the region hoping to replicate the success of the Fosterville Mine near Bendigo, which produces more gold than any other mine in Victoria.
Perth-based Torrens Mining has applied for licences to explore an area from south of Kilmore to north of Seymour, and other companies with applications in the region include Red Rock Australasia and Currawong Resources.
A Syndicate Minerals spokesman said the success of Fosterville – which produced more than 600,000 ounces of gold last year – and a historically patchy record of exploration in the region made north central Victoria attractive to mining companies.
“Victoria has a great gold heritage, and I think that’s coming to the fore recently given the rapid increase in gold price due to the current conditions,” he said.
“There’s also the Fosterville element. For the past couple of years that amazing discovery at Fosterville has got a lot of eyes on Victoria.
“People are taking another look at Victoria and saying, ‘it was looked at in historical times and there have been some large gaps in exploration – maybe it’s time to look again’.”
The spokesman said a timeline on approval for the application was uncertain, and the company would have to work through various requirements with the State Government’s Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions.
He said if an exploration licence was granted, the company would start with basic sampling that looked at soil chemistry as well as rocks and their elements.
“[It is] similar to what is done in agriculture, or environmental assessments,” he said.
“[We are] trying to follow these sorts of elemental clues that would have been out of reach for Victoria’s fabled ‘old timers’.
“Modern technology allows us to look much closer, while leaving very little disturbance behind, unlike arduous work of yesteryear.”
The spokesman said if signs were promising Syndicate Minerals would look at airborne technologies, such as magnetic or gravity surveys, to give indications of what was deep underground.
“It’s interesting to note that the large granites that underlie the application area were only lightly prospected in the past, due to the prevailing thought that they were barren and the insufficient technology of the times,” he said.
“So our thought is that it’s worth verifying this old presumption.”
The spokesman said the project was a potential boon for the Macedon Ranges region with the potential to create jobs.
“We aim to do this all in minimally invasive ways as possible, using modern technology and having a minimal footprint on the ground, and to foster a collaborative relationship with landholders, for example agriculturalists, who many wonder about our activities,” he said.
“All sampling, all work done, and any possible further more intensive exploration work is done only in accessible areas or areas where we have arranged access permission with the landholder, and within the guidelines of the Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions.
“Given the global uncertainties around the COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic uncertainty that faces Australia after its conclusion, it’s possible that gold exploration and extraction will be a significant asset and a source of employment and economic growth for Victorians.”