STAWELL’s Big Hill mine will come under more public scrutiny with the help of a state government grant if it’s owner submits a modified proposal.
If Stawell Gold Mines modified its proposal for an open cut project, the not-for-profit community legal centre Environmental Justice Australia would be able to use part of a $50,000 grant help the public engage in the approval process.
Stawell Gold Mines announced in December that 150 workers would be made redundant as the underground operation moved into care and maintenance mode.
Victorian Resources Minister Wade Noonan announced on Wednesday that the government aimed to empowering Victorian communities to have a greater voice on mine proposals.
Mr Noonan said the program would give communities a better understanding of the complex processes involved with mine and quarry proposals.
Many Victorian communities feel disengaged from the process of approving a new mine or quarry – and we want to turn this around,” he said.
“This program will break down barriers so people can better understand what’s happening in their local areas, and take part in the consultation process.
“I look forward to seeing Victorians engage with Environmental Justice Australia so their voices can be heard.”
Mr Noonan also said the mining industry was a key driver of the Victorian economy and created jobs in regional communities.
The program will be trialled over the next 12 to 18 months, focussing on three proposals across Victoria:
The money will come from the Community Education Grant Program.
Under the public engagement trial, communities will be guided through the environmental assessment process and laws.
They will also have an opportunity to participate through written submissions and presentations at public hearings.
Residents will be able take part in community education workshops and have access to online resources to help them engage in public consultations.
The program was also designed help project proponents better understand and respond to community interests.
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