STAWELL - Northern Grampians Shire Mayor, Cr Wayne Rice, is urging residents of Stawell and district to ensure they are fully informed about the proposed Big Hill Enhanced Development Project before making any judgement.
Cr Rice said he was in favour of the move by council to support Stawell Gold Mines in its pursuit of the Big Hill open cut project.
"This really is just moving through the steps at the moment and will go to government for approval," Cr Rice said.
"We as a council will have to decide whether we are going to support this in principle or not eventually.
"What we have to take into account is what is in the best interests of all ratepayers within the Northern Grampians Shire."
Cr Rice said the retention of jobs at the mine was one vital factor in him supporting the proposal.
"By having this project go ahead, I don't like to use the word create an additional 80 to 10 jobs, I prefer to use the word retain 80 to 100 jobs.
"Once again and most importantly, I ask the community to attend the community consultation sessions that will be held, be fully informed before making any decision.
"I know it is very hard to go along to these sessions and leave emotion out of it, because if your home, which is your biggest single asset, is in any way threatened, your lifestyle is in any way threatened, then you can't help but get emotional about that. That's only a fair position to be in.
"I would ask the community to go to the community consultation sessions, hear what is being said and weigh it up at the end of the day, what is going to be the best for the Northern Grampians Shire. You might suffer a little bit yourself individually, but will it help your next door neighbour?
"When you look at it that way and take everything into account, some people might have to go through some hardship. Some people are going to go through very difficult times and I certainly feel very sorry for those people as well, but at the end of the day, we don't want to put the whole shire through hardship."
Cr Rice said the flow on effect of keeping other businesses open and people employed in manufacturing and engineering was also vital.
"If we can find a way to keep jobs, not only jobs in the mine itself, but the other associated industries," he said.
"Part of what makes the Northern Grampians Shire such a strong manufacturing area is the fact that we have so many people who support the mine in the manufacturing, engineering, mechanical and electrical industries, so the flow on effect throughout the shire is very wide and we need to take this into account.
"We have to learn to live without the mine. It will happen sooner rather than later. We know that day is not very far away now.
"Please think about all sorts of things and think to yourself, I might have to suffer a little bit, it might be very tough, but what is going to be the best outcome for the shire at the end of the day.
"Certainly my position on this one is that if we come out of this in a better situation than we are in today, then I will support this proposal to open cut Big Hill."