THE state government’s modest $2 million investment in nine mineral exploration projects in western Victoria could reap enormous economic benefits in the years to come.
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Five mining companies seeking to assess the viability of copper, gold and other base metal deposits near Ararat, Horsham and Nhill have received a share of the funding.
Perth-based company Stavely Minerals, which has an office in Ararat, was one of the big winners with $1 million to help fund five exploration projects in the Ararat region.
Navarre Minerals will use the $626,000 grant it received under the government’s TARGET program to explore the Irvine and Benno gold prospects it holds near Stawell.
GBM Resources was given a $185,000 grant for a project south-west of Ararat, Murray Basin Resources $74,000 for exploration north-east of Horsham and Austpac Resources $53,000 for work near Nhill.
Stavely Minerals managing director Chris Cairns said exploring all five tenements at this stage would need government assistance.
He said while the very nature of mineral exploration was highly speculative, the discovery of a viable copper or gold deposit could create hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs.
“In regional areas such as western Victoria and the Stavely region, these co-funded exploration programs, if successful in helping to identify significant new mineral discoveries, could provide substantial economic benefits and employment opportunities for local communities.
“It must, of course, be stressed that mineral exploration is a high-risk business as the mineral discovery rate is low and there is no guarantee of discovery or that a discovery will prove economic.”
Resources Minister Wade Noonan said the money would cover up to half the cost of the licence holders’ exploration activities, which will include geophysical surveys, drilling and sampling analysis. “… this program will help determine what minerals really lie beneath the surface so we can further capitalise on our natural resources.”
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