This week, forums hosted by the Victorian Government provided local farmers and landholders with information on mineral exploration activity in the Stavely Arc.
"While statistically the likelihood of discovering a commercially viable deposit is low, there was significant optimism that our local geology suggests that a world-class deposit of gold and copper will be found here," he said.
"If that does occur, it will take years for a new local mine to become operational, but while our region is a focus of exploration activity; it is already returning millions to the local economy.
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"Much of the economy has struggled throughout the global pandemic. In contrast, gold has become a safe haven for investment, continuing to sharply rise.
"An increase in mining activity provides enormous confidence for the local economy and the creation of many new jobs that will help drive our regional growth and prosperity."
To date, minerals exploration licences have been issued in four blocks in the Stavely Arc - this includes areas surrounding Willaura, Wickliffe, Lake Bolac, Moyston and Pomonal.
"We understand the Victorian Government is currently investigating options for a community benefits scheme that would see royalties from mining reinvested in the communities where activity occurs. This is an initiative we would strongly support," Dr Harrison said.
"More than 160 years have passed since Chinese miners en route to the goldfields discovered gold in Ararat, which resulted in a boom that established our town.
"During the goldrush era, more than 80 million ounces of gold were discovered in Victoria. Today this would amount to more than $200 billion in value.
"Not only did this transform the economies of our regional cities and towns but people from right across the globe came here searching for a brighter future.
"It's a boom that has never been repeated, perhaps until now, with advances in technology and smarter exploration showing that we have an abundance of strong geological potential for new gold, copper and other metal discoveries."
To find out more about the Stavely Minerals Exploration Initiative, please visit: https://earthresources.vic.gov.au/projects/stavely