The Mitchell River floodplain at Lindenow has been given special exemption from mining and mineral exploration in changes adopted by the Victorian Government.
East Gippsland’s prime vegetable growing area will now be exempt from minerals exploration and mining licensing in a move supported by mineral sands mining proponent Kalbar Resources.
Under Section 7 of the Mineral Resources (Sustainable Development) Act 1990, the Minister may grant an exemption to prevent a license from being issued within a defined land area.
The exempted area, along the Mitchell River floodplain stretching from Glenaladale to Hillside, is highly valued for its horticultural produce.
Kalbar Resources, the proponent of the nearby Fingerboards Mineral Sands project, worked with Earth Resources Regulation (ERR) to exempt the land, in response to concerns that its proposed exploration activities covered the river flats and could expand into the prime horticultural area.
The outcome provides certainty that there will be no mineral exploration or mining on highly productive alluvial soils.
Kalbar Chairman, Dr Brad Farrell, said: “Mining exploration licenses cover a large part of Australia and significant areas in Gippsland, but they only cover a large area to allow early stage exploration.”
“Once we defined the high-grade resource at the Fingerboards site then the company sought a retention licence over that area, and is relinquishing areas not required over time”, Dr Farrell said.
“We have never had any intention to carry out further exploration in the high-value agricultural land and we are happy that the exemption has been applied”, he said.
The exemption area outlined by Kalbar in its proposal to ERR defines the limit of high-quality deep loam soils. The soils in the area outside of the river flats are used predominantly for grazing and timber plantations.
The land within the Fingerboards mineral sands project area is unaffected by the announced exemption. This is the area under investigation in the Environment Effects Statement (EES).
Dr Farrell said: “We are working through the complex process of the EES to give the community and all stakeholders all the evidence about the Fingerboards project”.
“We propose to return the land to grazing with improved soil chemistry and water-holding capacity for improved pasture, rehabilitate eroded gullies with native vegetation, and carry out large-scale native grassland restoration that is planned to be Australia’s largest grassland restoration project”, he said.
Dr Farrell said: “We are working closely with all stakeholders, to deliver a project that can operate alongside existing agricultural production, restore agricultural land and ecosystems and deliver substantial economic benefits for the region”.
Above: The area exempted from mineral exploration and licensing covers the fertile soils of the Lindenow Valley floodplain.