The owner of Tallebung and Doradilla mines in NSW has applied for a six-year licence to search for gold across 141 square kilometres in and around Yass and Murrumbateman.
The Australian and New Zealand-owned Sky Metals lodged the application under its subsidiary company, Aurum Metals, and expects an outcome from the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment within about two months.
If granted, the licence will give the Orange-based company exclusive rights to explore for gold in the area outlined in the application.
Sky Metals chief executive officer Mark Arundell said the company is aiming to begin work on the ground early next year, and that it has already found signs of gold near Murrumbateman.
“The first phase of work would involve following up known mineral occurrences and old mines in the area,” said Mr Arundell. “So once we’ve negotiated access with the landowner, this would entail collecting rock samples from the old mines and sending them off for gold analysis.
“If we get encouraging results, we would ask whether we can return to do more work, which might be surface sampling – for example, soils – or a geophysics survey. Both are considered low-impact activities.
“If positive results are obtained from this work, we might consider shallow drilling as a follow up.”
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While landholders in NSW own the surface land of their properties, most resources that exist below the earth’s surface belong to the state of NSW.
However, that doesn’t mean exploration companies can walk onto private land without consultation.
Sky Metals would need to get permission from landholders through an access arrangement, which outlines when the company can access the land, which parts of the land they can work on, the types of exploration activities they can carry out on the land and compensation.
Also, exploration companies cannot explore land within 200 metres of a principal place of residence, or 50 metres from a garden without the written consent of the owner, under the Mining Act 1992.
There are currently 1698 active titles – current applications, licences, leases, authorities, authorisations and tenements – for mineral exploration in NSW, according to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.
However, an exploration licence doesn’t guarantee a mining or production lease will be granted.
According to government office NSW Resources and Geoscience “only a very small percentage of land that is subject to exploration licences ever proceed to production”.
Sky Metals would also have to purchase the land by negotiation to build a mine.
The following information is from NSW Resources and Geoscience:
What is exploration?
Exploration allows companies to find out the quantity and quality of resources and consider if they are worth pursuing a mine for. There is a rigorous approvals process in place for exploration activities and companies have strict requirements imposed on them to ensure land is progressively rehabilitated.
There are also separate and independent approval processes if companies proceed to a mine.
If there is an exploration licence over my land, can I still carry on my regular business?
Yes. However, if there is an access arrangement in place, both landholders and titleholders will need to act in accordance with that agreement’s terms and conditions. This includes any notification requirements.
How do I find information on any exploration titles in my area?
Information on areas under exploration licences, or applications for new exploration licences, can be obtained from the department’s website through the Common Ground web portal or through Minview. These websites contain extensive information on exploration and production in NSW.
Find out more about exploration and landholder rights here.