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Keeping you up to date on the North Central Victorian Goldfields Ground Release and Tender

Edition One - January 2020

In this edition:

  • What is the ground release and tender?
  • Community and landholder briefings on minerals exploration
  • Earth Resources at Elmore Field Days
  • Common questions from community and landholder briefings
  • Safeguarding groundwater aquifers
  • Does minerals exploration always lead to a mine?
  • Information at your fingertips
  • Did you know
  • Contact list
What is the ground release and tender?

On 31 October 2019, the Victorian Government invited companies to submit an expression of interest (tender) for the exclusive right to apply for a minerals exploration licence over ground to the north and east of Bendigo, previously withheld temporarily from exploration.

Recent minerals exploration activity in the area has delivered promising results. This exploration, together with high-grade gold discoveries and production success at Fosterville, highlights the potential for high-grade, low-cost gold discovery and development opportunities in north central Victoria.

The North Central Victorian Goldfields Ground Release, which covers 1,565 square kilometres, has been divided into four minerals exploration areas or blocks (see map). Companies may apply for one or more of these blocks. The tender process is part of a strategic approach to managing Victoria’s mineral resources.

The standard practice in Victoria is for exploration companies to apply for a minerals exploration licence “over the counter”.  This tender process adds an additional layer by requiring companies to address more strict selection criteria relating to community and Traditional Owner engagement and environmental safeguards.

An enhanced focus on responsible exploration

The North Central Victorian Goldfields Ground Release tender process aims to attract companies that will deliver a well-designed landholder and community engagement program, collaborate with Traditional Owners and be active in safeguarding the environment as they undertake their exploration programs.

The tender closes on 14 February 2020. Proposals will be evaluated by a panel of independent experts, supported by specialists in community engagement, environmental management and Traditional Owner representatives.

Only successful tenderers will earn the right to apply for a mineral exploration licence, where they will then need to pass the same legislative requirements as standard licence applications.

Community and landholder briefings on minerals exploration

The Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions held information sessions in November and December last year. Sessions in Lockington, Rochester, Elmore, Goornong and Axedale updated the local community about the North Central Victorian Goldfields Ground Release, mineral exploration and landholder rights, exploration company obligations and environmental safeguards.

Further community information sessions and pop-up information booths will be held in early 2020. For more information please contact Lyall Grey, Senior Community Engagement Officer on 0436 662 399.

If you are a member of a club or group that would like to learn more about the ground release and what it means for you, register your interest.

Community members will be kept updated through this newsletter.

Earth Resources at Elmore Field Days

More than 500 people called into the Earth Resources stand at the Elmore Field Days to have their groundwater samples tested, rock samples identified, to look at local core samples and to learn about minerals exploration.

The teams from Minerals Development Victoria and Geological Survey of Victoria were kept busy throughout the three days, answering a range of questions from the locals who attended.

Geological Survey Victoria team with Field Day visitors
Common questions from community and landholder briefings

Answers to common questions about minerals exploration can be found on our website under FAQs.

Safeguarding groundwater aquifers
Minerals Exploration and Groundwater factsheet

Water is subject to well-established controls and a very robust regulatory framework that safeguards the environment. Conditions to safeguard groundwater resources are imposed on an exploration or mining licence.

The code of practice for mineral exploration sets out the recommended practices for drill operation and bore construction, managing aquifers, operating sumps and decommissioning drill holes. Once sampling and testing activities have been completed, drill holes are decommissioned.

Get the Fact Sheet about Minerals Exploration and Groundwater

Does minerals exploration always lead to a mine?

Mineral exploration is very challenging and the chance of a mineral exploration project leading to a mine is very low. In Victoria, only one in 300 exploration projects leads, on average, to an operating mine.

These low conversion rates reflect how hard it is to discover a mineral deposit that is commercially viable to mine. Commercial viability depends on many factors, like the quantity and quality of the minerals in a deposit, mine establishment and production costs, commodity prices, transport costs, international supply competition and demand, as well as exchange rates.

To build a mine and conduct mining activities, a company needs first to apply for, and be awarded, a mining licence, then gain all the environmental and other planning approvals that are required under legislation. The approvals process can take several years. On average, the time between discovery of a minerals deposit and production from an operating mine is about 12 years.

The type of mine that develops depends in part upon the economics of the alternative extraction methods (e.g. open cut or underground) and this would be a key consideration in the rigorous approvals process for mining.

Information at your fingertips

The Earth Resources website makes it easy for everyone to find more about the North Central Victorian Goldfields Ground Release.

Another great resource on the website is the Mining Licences Near Me tool which shows all current licences across Victoria. The tool provides information regarding the name of licensee, the minerals being targeted and and licence expiry dates.

Did you know?
Agriculture and minerals exploration already co-exist
Image showing the extent of minerals exploration in north central Victoria

Extensive mineral exploration activity has occurred across Victoria for nearly 170 years. There have been 102 minerals exploration licences granted over the area of this ground release since the licensing system was introduced in 1965.

Some of those licences led to the highly successful Fosterville Gold Mine. Many others have come and gone, and while they haven’t led to an operating mine, they have provided valuable new geotechnical information. The odds of making a mineral discovery in Victoria are very low, with only one in 300 exploration projects leading to an operating mine.

Geotechnical information generated by mineral exploration licence holders is highly valuable to the next explorer and it is a condition of a licence that all data is submitted to the State. At the end of a licence this information is made public and used by the next generation of explorers with better technology, greater expertise and new funding to invest in minerals exploration.

Contact list




Lyall Grey
Community Engagement Officer
Minerals Development Victoria, Bendigo
0436 662 399

Enquiries about licensing and approvals (Earth Resources Regulation)

1300 366 356


Workplan approvals
1300 366 356


The North Central Victorian Goldfields Ground Release Update is distributed by the Department of Jobs, Precincts, and Regions. You are receiving this Update because you recently attended one of our information sessions in the region, been in contact with one of the Earth Resources team or registered on the website.

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Minerals Development Victoria update newsletters are distributed by the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions