MINING companies are investigating more than 30 mining opportunities in the Wimmera and southern Mallee, a report has revealed.
Wimmera Development Association launched its Wimmera Southern Mallee Mining Sector Plan in Stawell on Friday.
Association chairman Rob Gersch said the plan detailed the region's mining opportunities and infrastructure that would assist operations, including the Wimmera Intermodal Freight Terminal.
"There are actually 34 inquiries and explorations going on in the Wimmera-Mallee, which is very surprising," he said.
"Stawell Gold Mines is one of the companies but there is a huge amount of inquiry going on in our area, including possible exploration for copper in Hindmarsh Shire.
"The idea or aim of the plan is to promote and assist with any mining that will go on in the future.
"Wimmera Development Association is a leading co-ordinator of economic development in the Wimmera-Mallee and this was a project that was seen as a benefit to that economic development."
Northern Grampians Shire Mayor Wayne Rice said it was good that the plan took a regional approach to mining opportunities.
"There are minerals within the Wimmera that we are not aware of so there is potential for mine sites right across the region," he said.
"Apart from the likes of gold in Stawell and zircon with Iluka's mines, companies have identified other minerals in the region and some of these are viable to mine.
"People need to expand their thinking on mining because it is no longer just about pick and shovel work."
Cr Rice said mining had the power to boost economic development and increase the number of jobs in the Wimmera.
"Mining could bring economic benefits for the region," he said.
"There are also going to be hundreds and hundreds of jobs in mining in the coming years."
Cr Rice said council was considering ways of retaining residents and sparking economic development in the shire when Stawell Gold Mines' underground operations finished within a year.
Council has given in-principle support to the company's four or five-year project to open cut Stawell landmark Big Hill.
"It is vitally important that we retain the population and residents, whether it be in the Northern Grampians Shire or broader Wimmera region," he said.