A STATE Government-appointed panel has finished hearing submissions on the proposal to mine Big Hill, but not before panelists were accompanied by about twenty residents on a site visit.
Panel chairperson Jenny Moles and other panelists Ian Harris, Lyn Denison and Jack Chiodo were provided with a first hand view of sites at and around Big Hill to give them a better idea of the proposed project's location and other places of significance.
Close to 40 people addressed the panel which was sitting at the Federation University Building in Sloane Street from Wednesday, July 2 until Friday last week.
They, along with relevant State Government departments, the Environment Protection Authority and the project proponents Crocodile Gold (the owner of Stawell Gold Mine), made submissions.
Northern Grampians Shire Council was also represented by a submission of its own.
The panel was tasked with assessing the feasibility of operating two open cut mines at Big Hill over a five year period, combined with the planned rehabilitation of the area in conjunction with the Stawell community.
It was also convened to consider the applications made at the hearing, the 350 written submissions made in response to the Environmental Effects Statement completed on the project, the proponent's submissions and the experts it has called.
Stawell Gold Mines announced plans in January last year, to investigate the feasibility of extending its mining operations into the Big Hill area.
The company lodged an Environment Effects Statement (EES) Referral with the Victorian Government for the Big Hill site, to determine the approvals process it would need to follow if it pursues the project.
In May, the Planning Minister Matthew Guy, announced that an Environment Effects Statement would be required for the project.
The EES documents were released for public consultation in March this year and the procedures for the four-person Inquiry panel established at a directions hearing at Stawell in June.
The community now awaits the panel's recommendation to the state government. Its findings will be key to whether the proposed project is to proceed.