DPI quells mining fears

THE Department of Primary Industries has spoken up to ease community concerns after news broke a national minerals exploration company was looking at new tenements in Mirboo North and Callignee.

DPI director of earth resources Doug Sceney reminded the community there were significant regulatory processes in place to provide checks and balances, and the application by Mantle Mining Corporation was the beginning of the process.

“Mining licence holders cannot carry out any work within 100 metres of a dwelling without the consent of the land owner,” Mr Sceney said.

“This law makes it very difficult for mining companies to carry out works in built-up areas like towns and DPI, as regulator, would not approve any work plan that jeopardised critical infrastructure or public safety.”

There was strong community reactions last week after it was made known the Brisbane-based minerals exploration company was looking to expand its Latrobe Valley Coal Project, lodging two notices of applications for exploration licences for coal.

Mr Sceney said the department had received the application from Mantle Mining for an exploration licence in the Mirboo North area and the application was open for public comment.

“People have 21 days after the placement of an advertisement by the applicant to lodge comments and objections; the advertisement for this licence ran on Wednesday, 18 July,” he said.

“As the licence area includes Crown land, the applicant must deal with Native Title before a decision on a licence can be made and this can take several months.”

He said even if the licence was granted, the licensee did not have the right to start ground-distributing works.

“They must first submit a work plan for approval by DPI, detailing how any environmental impacts will be mitigated,” he said.

“If a work plan is approved, the licensee must still gain consent or agree compensation with landholders before carrying out any works on their land.

“The community can have confidence that DPI and other regulators will rigidly enforce these regulations to ensure that we have a sustainable minerals industry in this state which respects local communities and coexists alongside other important land uses like farming.”

Mr Sceney said the DPI recognised a “strong community interest” in exploration and mining in Victoria.

“For this reason DPI and other agencies are launching a series of community information sessions that will give local residents the chance to speak directly to regulators and policy experts,” he said.

“Representatives of DPI, the Environment Protection Authority and Southern Rural Water will be on hand to explain how Victoria’s regulatory regime operates.

“I would encourage people with questions to take this opportunity to come along and put their questions directly to regulators and experts who can give them the facts they need.”

Details of information sessions in Gippsland are as follows:

South Gippsland: 2pm to 7pm 1 August , Leongatha Dakers Centre, 9 Smith Street, Leongatha; Wellington: 2pm to 7pm 9 August, All Seasons Sale, 25-41 Princes Highway, Sale; Bass Coast: 2pm to 7pm 16 August, Wonthaggi Workman’s Club, 75 Graham St, Wonthaggi.