By Colin MacGillivray
MINING operations are again in the spotlight across the Macedon Ranges and Mitchell Shire after a fresh wave of exploration licence applications and approvals.
Several mining companies have been granted the right to explore for minerals – primarily gold – across the region, while others have applied for licences through the Earth Resources branch of the State Government’s Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions.
Among current licences are several held by Perth-based company Torrens Mining, whose applications were reported by the North Central Review in August last year.
Torrens has been granted five licences in an area centring on Mount Piper near Broadford and stretching south of Kilmore, north-west to Pyalong, Tooborac and Glenaroua, and north and east of Seymour, including Whiteheads Creek.
The group has also applied for a licence covering most of the Puckapunyal Military Area, although the request has not yet been granted.
Bendigo-based Currawong Resources was granted exploration licence EL007052 for an area encompassing Broadford, Tyaak and Strath Creek, and in March applied for licence EL007504 for an area east of Tooborac.
Clonbinane Goldfield holds two current licences, the second of which was approved in December, covering an area that includes Wandong, Clonbinane and Sunday Creek.
In the Macedon Ranges, company Red Rock Australasia was last month granted a licence for an area designated EL007329 stretching west of Kilmore and Wallan towards Monegeetta and Romsey, encompassing Darraweit Guim, Chintin, Forbes, Willowmavin and High Camp.
Red Rock Australasia has also applied for a licence designated EL007460 covering an area skirting Lancefield and Romsey in the north, stretching south beyond Monegeetta and then turning east to incorporate Clarkefield and Kalkallo.
The company’s application drew the ire of comedian and Romsey resident Tom Gleeson, who encouraged residents to object to the application.
“Another … mining company wants to dig mines into farming land. Mining lasts for decades at best. Agriculture lasts for centuries. Stop it before it starts,” Mr Gleeson wrote on his Facebook page.
Red Rock Australasia community and environmental liaison Kiara Reddingius fired back at Mr Gleeson and said he was helping to spread ‘misinformation and misunderstandings’.
“In 2018 Tom Gleeson was MC for the Australasian Exploration Geoscience Conference, promoting the importance of exploration, innovation and integration,” she said.
“I would have hoped he would use his public influence help educate the community on the value of scientific understanding developing a more responsible, economical, environmentally sustainable future.”
Ms Reddingius said Red Rock Australasia was committed to the responsible growth of Victoria’s minerals sector in a way that met the community’s environmental expectations.
“Well-planned and managed exploration projects should have little or no lasting impact on the environment and impose minimal disruption to other land users and the community,” she said.
“All licensees have a duty to consult with the community throughout the period of the licence. We cannot and will not enter onto private land without the permission of landowners.”
Ms Reddingius said Red Rock Australasia’s forecasted exploration activities were classed as reconnaissance, meaning there would be no lasting social or environmental impact.
“I majored in conservation and wildlife biology … [with a] minor in mathematical modelling (environment) as well as a grad diploma in secondary science and maths education,” she said.
“I grew up rurally in a small town and I am passionate about the education of not only our future generations, but our community as a whole toward the importance of the earth sciences and the essential changes in industry, both farming and mining, which foster more sustainable operations through practical tools, knowledge and innovation in the areas of decision-making, environmental management, social responsibility and social licence to operate.”
Deep Creek Landcare Lancefield, Romsey and Monegeetta president Phil Severs said while he agreed mineral exploration had minimal environmental impact, mining did not.
“Obviously if they do find things there would be a lot of pressure to establish a mine, and that’s when the real issues would emerge. An actual mine would be a huge problem for us,” he said.
“We don’t believe that mining and the Macedon Ranges go together. We see the Macedon Ranges as being all about agriculture and the environment.
“All the people I’ve spoken to … seem to be of the one view in the sense that they’re anti-mining for our area. They just don’t think it’s a good fit.”
Mr Severs, who lives near Lancefield, said the benefits of mining in the region would comparatively minor and short-lived.
“Yes, there would be some jobs created, but I would say there would be very few jobs for people from this area. The jobs that would be created would be mainly people coming in from outside areas on a short-term basis,” he said.
“It would be some short-term gain and certainly long-term pain. If you look at all the mines that have been established in Western Australia, generally they haven’t been rehabilitated afterwards.
“I think we need to keep up the fight, because it’s completely inappropriate. We don’t think mining is a fit for the Macedon Ranges, because it harms the unique values of the area.
“Places like this aren’t that common. We feel very lucky to live here and I think the whole area is already under pressure.”
Currawong Resources chief operating officer Neil Motton said central Victoria’s previous record of gold discoveries made it an attractive area for further exploration.
“We want to utilise modern technology and geological advancements to explore historical workings and discover their further, untapped potential,” he said.
“We understand we have a responsibility to uphold excellent environmental and social practices to ensure the long-term sustainability of the area, and work in accordance with all relevant legislation and regulations.”
Mr Motton said he encouraged community members who had questions about Currawong Resources’ exploration activities to call 0429 822 364 or email email@example.com.
Current Victorian mining exploration licences and licence applications can be viewed by visiting website earthresources.vic.gov.au/licensing-approvals/location-of-mining-petroleum-licences/mining-licences-near-me.
People can make submissions on new licence applications by visiting earthresources.vic.gov.au/licensing-approvals/have-your-say, or contact Earth Resources for more information by phoning 1300 366 356 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.