Central Highlands residents could be sitting on land marked for mining exploration, and probably have no idea about it, according to an environmental expert.
Current mining exploration licences have been granted for more than 1800 hectares of land in the Lal Lal area, with licences pending for more than 38,000 hectares of land around Bacchus Marsh.
This information comes after the launch of Environment Victoria’s new website, ‘CoalWatch’, on Wednesday
which uses Google-Earth technology to allow Victorians to see the coal industry’s mining leases and plans
across the state.
Environment Victoria campaigns director Mark Wakeham said most residents probably had no idea exploration licences could be issued for their land.
“There’s no requirements for companies to seek permission from land holders before applying for exploration licences, which is quite astonishing,” Mr Wakeham said.
“It’s only when they begin undertaking significant exploration activities that the land owner’s consent is supposed to be sought by the company.”
Mr Wakeham warned it was unlikely the government would issue exploration licences without intending for mining activities to start shortly after.
“Since the Mineral Resources Development Regulations Act was introduced in 2002, every application for a mining licence has been approved.
“The fact a company looking to export brown coal to India is now seeking an exploration licence for areas surrounding Bacchus Marsh is a real concern. It suggests there is a very large coal resource there, and if that resource was exploited it would have big local impacts and big climate impacts.”
Ballarat Renewable Energy And Zero Emissions community campaigner Andrew Bray also warned the project could have damaging impacts on residents across the Ballarat region.
Energy and Resources Minister Michael O’Brien did not return The Courier’s phone calls.