Concerns over mining
IS YOUR landholding in the Stavely Arc, which runs from Wyperfeld to Terang?
If so, it could be subject to tender under a new mineral exploration ‘Ground Release’.
You need to know that there is nothing you can do to prevent mining explorers coming onto your land, or, some time in the future, digging an open-cut mine in your horse paddock.
Representatives of the state Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources Department have been holding meetings in various towns to provide information on this subject recently.
They will offer a cajoling “helping hand, new tools in consultation, new dispute resolution approaches, free workshops, simple voluntary land access and compensation agreements” – all to achieve “better outcomes”.
The minister involved, Tim Pallas, has even spoken to students at Ararat high school.
That may sound tongue in cheek. Frankly, though, you need these people. However, much of what they say sounds more like propaganda than fact.
I give some examples.
They say: “Minerals explorers can only access private property with the consent of a landholder or compensation agreement.”
But this is outright wrong. If you do not consent, the mining marshal will take you to VCAT to allot compensation and the miners can then enter your land. That is not an agreement.
They say: “We’re attracting minerals explorers with strong social values to invest in western Victoria.” Is this an oxymoron?
When they say: “Sophisticated transport and energy infrastructure … and export pathways” it obviously doesn’t refer to the roads on which I drive.
You would be very naive taking their information at face value.
My message is that we should act together on this issue. This is the only way you will achieve the best for yourself, your environment and region and for your industry.
You could be optimistic that this government expenditure may increase employment, that development of buried resources is good at any cost, or even that you may have a chance of a new bore.
Alternatively, you may wonder, in this land of free enterprise, why 11 leaseholders can be granted up to $500,000 in co-payments to drill under your land.
Agriculture provides 24 per cent of Victoria’s exports but I gather Victoria's miners in recent years have contributed less in royalties than they receive in grants and concessions.
It does seem strange that a government would subsidise a non-contributing industry that potentially threatens one of their most important ones.
You could be pessimistic that any offered jobs will be for FIFO workers.
You may be annoyed that our roads will receive more heavy traffic, and another industry’s trucks would be the last straw.
You could be annoyed that these companies pay a lower tax rate than you do, especially after recent taxation changes.
Or that they are, on average in Australia, 83 per cent foreign owned, put labour prices up, and that we have a system in this country that supported them but wasted a wonderful opportunity in the recent minerals boom.
Whatever your belief, or what these apologists for the mining industry tell you, if you want some compensation for allowing these miners into this area, you should do two things.
Firstly, lobby your local council and politicians to provide more road funding to cater for the increased traffic of what is basically a new industry in the area.
Secondly, talk to this group, and organise yourselves to act together in claiming compensation. Make sure the template for negotiation is set by landholders, not Tim Pallas. Remember, if you don’t consent, or negotiate successfully, you are at the hands of the mining marshal. I am not sure who he is, but I do not think that he is on your side.
My own land is not subject to this release of exploration licence, although various wetlands that I am interested in are.
Doug Craig, Dunkeld
Western Highway route
ROSEMARY Bates wrote on behalf of a resident action group, (July 27 edition) proposing a supposedly better option to VicRoads’ highway duplication in the Mt Langi Ghiran region.
Unfortunately, the group’s stance is based on misleading information.
The approved route has a lower impact in key environmental areas, cultural matters aside.
That is, building through mostly degraded agricultural land with some non-contiguous remnant patches of woodland and grasslands is preferable to destroying the continuous, extremely high conservation value vegetation of the current highway roadsides.
The roadsides provide a haven for several rare and listed species and an ecological community rare for the region.
There are no such proven rarities on the approved route. The claim an EPBC-listed community of Blakely’s gum, yellow box and white box is present without any evidence of Blakely’s gum or white box in the vicinity, is fanciful.
‘Careful renovation’ of the existing road, the group’s ‘Northern Option’, is impractical as the duplication would require both sides of the road to be heavily impacted to meet road design parameters for current and future traffic needs.
The construction of two new rail bridges would be necessary with one impacting on the Langi Ghiran State Park itself.
That would make overall costs far higher and vegetative damage could easily be more than two or three times that of the approved route.
David Leviston, chairman, Western Highway Conservation Group