The prospect of Stawell Gold Mines remaining in operation at least for another five years must surely have many beaming with excitement.
While it's no lay down misere that the mine owners will be granted permission to open cut Big Hill, the fact that the wheels have been set in motion for the appropriate permits to be be applied for, is a major step forward.
Stawell was the centre of controversy many years ago when an application was made to open cut Big Hill. It's fair to say the company at the time fell a little short in advising the community exactly what their plans were and in the end, that itself probably led to the application being declined.
We are seeing a totally different approach this time around. The company has said openly it was 'exploring all options' with regards to expanding the mine's life once underground operations have ceased. This of course, included Big Hill.
Several key areas of concern raised during the previous application have also been addressed, including social impact of the project, filling of any voids and ensuring there is minimal or no impact on the Ironbark habitat.
Big Hill could potentially extend the mine's life at least by five years. Add to that the prospect of between 80 and 100 workers either maintaining or regaining employment at the mine, depending on their current circumstances, then the project has great merit.
No doubt the watchdogs will be out monitoring the company's every move, but it's a microscope management itself is only too happy to be under as it looks to engage the community to provide as much input as possible.